FRANK FRANGIE: Thoughts from around college football and Jaguars training camp

FRANK FRANGIE: Thoughts from around college football and Jaguars training camp

By Frank Frangie

I hated to see Iowa drop four sports this past week — men’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s swimming and diving and men’s tennis. It hit me the same way it did when Stanford cut 11 sports not long ago, the way it did when numerous MAC schools whittled Olympic sports just before that.

Know this, the athletes in those sports work just as hard as they do in football and basketball. They grind at all hours, they live in the weight room, they somehow find a way to excel in their sport at the highest level while often taking a full load of classes. And their sport matters as much to them as football does to you and me. I hurt for all of them.

But I wasn’t surprised.

Which is one more reason I will never join the chorus of those criticizing the leagues that are at least trying to play football this fall. Because, among the other things it does, moving forward in football allows schools to save the careers of countless other athletes in less glamorous sports.

By now, we’ve all read it a thousand times — football revenue is what makes it possible for those other sports to exist. At the highest level of college athletics, football pays for ALL of them. Period. It pays for all the athletic scholarships at all the big time schools. A common example at an average big time university: the football makes program makes north of $50 million, the other sports combine to lose at least $30, and the athletic department nets the difference of $20 million or more.

So it is not a coincidence that the schools dropping sports, or at least the ones we’ve read the most about — Stanford, Iowa, the MAC schools — are from leagues that have decided not to play football this fall. And it is not a coincidence that most of the schools in the major conferences playing football — the SEC, ACC and Big 12 — don’t seem to need to drop other sports. At least not yet.

I’m not in the business of throwing around blame. I don’t think the Big 10, Pac 12 or anyone else deciding not to play this fall is trying to get it wrong. Or to hurt their students who play sports. On the contrary, the leaders of those leagues are hoping to do just the opposite — they truly are trying to protect the athletes. I get it.

But the schools playing truly believe they can do both. They believe they can move forward with fall sports — by adhering to protocols, by testing, by monitoring, by contact tracing — can bring in significant revenues, and in so doing, can keep the non-revenue sports alive on each campus. And keeping those sports alive is vitally important to those athletes, many of whom have spent their entire lives pursuing excellence in their specific sport.

There are tons of reasons I hope college football moves forward as expected this year. I love watching it. Most people I know love watching it. It provides content for my radio show. It provides college players the opportunity to pursue their NFL dreams. It gives others the chance for memories of a lifetime. It raises huge money for the schools overall.

And did I mention I love watching it?

So feel free to accuse those of us who want football to happen this fall of being self-serving. That’s fine. But never lose sight of the fact that it also allows hard-working college athletes in other sports to pursue their dreams, too. That part is so important. As they found out at Stanford, Iowa and all over the MAC. …

Add running back to the Jags position groups that I feel really good about. Leonard Fournette is in a contract year and looks to be in great shape. His two primary backups, Ryquell “Rock” Armstead and Devine Ozigbo, look like entirely different players than they did a year ago. At least to me.

Both are big physical runners, but I’ve seen more cutting ability, more wiggle and change of direction, than I remember from either a year ago. They look so much more seasoned, so dynamic. And speedy veteran Chris Thompson looks like the ideal third down back.

The Jags have some work to do in lots of areas. But I really like the backfield. …

It’s hard to fathom how much attrition the Jags have had on the defensive line. Between injuries, opt outs, suspensions, or players unable to play because of health conditions, the team has lost, either for the season or for awhile: Al Woods, Rodney Gunter, Aaron Lynch, Lerentee McCray, Dontavius Russell, Brian Price, Carl Davis, Josh Mauro. And of course Yannick Ngakoue is holding out.

That is NINE guys, all either defensive tackles or defensive ends, who were on the roster a month or so ago. That’s a lot of guys to replace. …

Gardner Minshew, who is as honest as they come, admitted on national radio last week that he will never have a “plus arm” by NFL standards. He has a good arm, but not a great one. So he will be at his best when he is able to step into throws, has a clean pocket or even a moving one.

But man does he throw a tremendous deep ball. When given time to set his feet, Minshew has the ability to drop a deep ball off the table like all the great ones. If the Jags are going to be decent, they are going to have to protect Minshew and consistently push the ball down the field. He is an extremely accurate deep ball thrower. …

There was a tremendous one-on-one battle between two physical rookies at practice this past week, offensive lineman Ben Bartch and nose guard DaVon Hamilton. Both are big, tough guys. Really big. Really tough. Both will be good NFL players. …

FSU’s football team is probably a few years away, but the Noles’ defensive front might be as good as any in the country. Tackles Marvin Wilson and Robert Cooper, ends Josh Kaindoh and Fabien Lovett may all be NFL players. Really good group. …

Many wondered whether the shortened baseball season would alter the power structure of the sport. A third of the way through, we have our answer. In a true 162-game season, the Yankees, Rays, Twins, Astros, A’s, Braves, Cubs and Dodgers were expected to be the best teams. Guess what? They still are. …

It hasn’t gotten much attention because it’s been a long time since Miami was an important part of the college football landscape, but I’m very excited about watching D’Eriq King quarterback the Canes. That has been a missing piece in Coral Gables for SO long. He’s an electric player. Going to be fun to watch. …

Other than Justin Fields at Ohio State, players who have transferred out of Georgia have had a tough time gaining immediate eligibility at their new school. Tight end Luke Ford (Illinois) and defensive end Brenton Cox (Florida) both lost their waiver appeals last year and offensive tackle Cade Mays (Tennessee) lost his this year. It’s not the Dawgs’ fault, it’s up the NCAA. But it is weird.

All of which continues to underscore the belief by everyone EXCEPT the NCAA that players should all be allowed to transfer one time without needing a waiver to play immediately. That rule will get passed. But it should have been passed already. …

Chilean Sea Bass is the best seafood. It’s just tremendous. Thought you should know. …

I saw in a story by Chris Harry of FloridaGators.com that combo guard Tre Mann, who tested the NBA waters before deciding to come back to school at Florida, is now 6-foot-5 1/2, which means he grew an inch and a half since last year. I’m still not sure sure the Gators have enough quality big men to be a factor in the post-season — if there even is a season — but the thought of him stepping up his game alongside 6-5 Keyontae Johnson and 6-5 Scottie Lewis, who also will be improved, in a faster paced offense, is really intriguing. …

Bumped into Jumbo Shrimp owner Ken Babby and his wife at dinner last week. What a positive, upbeat, forward-thinking guy he is. Despite losing his entire season to the pandemic, and I’m guessing huge dollars along the way, Ken is always smiling, appreciative of the world he has, looking forward to the next challenge. Great dude. …

Late last night on AXS, Ann and Nancy were flat out rocking, “Barracuda.” Love it. So 70’s. Love the 70’s. …

The Trail Blazers got the Lakers’ attention by beating them in Game 1 of the opening round of the NBA Playoffs in the Orlando bubble. LeBron and company have gone off in the last two games. …

Even in this world of Netflix and Amazon Prime and Apple plus and all the rest, the wife and I still miss going to the movies. Where else can you get two gallons of melted butter poured on your overpriced medium popcorn? To go with a fountain Diet Coke the size of Idaho. The movie theater rocks. …

Cheers.