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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

Florida Gators' Mark Thompson to return this week at Arkansas

Mark Thompson was cited by police last week for marijuana possession.


Mark Thompson was cited by police last week for marijuana possession.

GAINESVILLE - Florida Gators running back Mark Thompson will be back this week after a one-game suspension.

The junior college transfer was cited by police last week for marijuana possession. Coach Jim McElwain said Thompson will be back and "ready to go" Saturday at Arkansas.

With Thompson and Jordan Cronkrite out as he evaluates his future, UF relied heavily on Jordan Scarlett and true freshman Lamical Perine.

McElwain was asked about Cronkrite's status today during hsi weekly news conference. McElwain's response: "His choice." 

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Florida Gators back in top 10, FSU football falls

Florida jumped four spots to No. 10 in the latest AP poll.


Florida jumped four spots to No. 10 in the latest AP poll.

The Florida Gators are back in the top 10 for the first time this season after Saturday's win over Georgia.

UF jumped four spots to No. 10 in the latest AP poll, which was released Sunday afternoon. The 6-1 Gators travel to Arkansas this week.

Florida State fell seven spots to No. 19 following a 37-34 home loss to Clemson. The Tigers stayed at No. 3, behind Alabama and Michigan.

Check out the full AP poll here.

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Jimbo Fisher: 'Hold the (darn) officials accountable. It's garbage'

Jimbo Fisher was still livid at two penalties that helped fuel Florida State's 37-34 home loss Saturday night against Clemson.

AP photo

Jimbo Fisher was still livid at two penalties that helped fuel Florida State's 37-34 home loss Saturday night against Clemson.

UPDATE, 5 p.m. Sunday: The ACC publicly reprimanded Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher and fined the program $20,000 following his officiating comments about Saturday night's game. The league announced the punishment Sunday and said it will have no further comment on the matter.

My original story is below.

TALLAHASSEE - Coach Jimbo Fisher was still livid at two penalties that helped fuel Florida State's 37-34 home loss Saturday night against Clemson.

In the fourth quarter, fullback Freddie Stevenson was called for an illegal block that negated a long Dalvin Cook rush.

"It's ridiculous," Fisher said after the game. "It's not a chop. It was not a chop. I'm going to tell you what. You hold coaches accountable, players accountable, hold the damn officials accountable. It's garbage..."

Fisher argued the penalty at the time, and he wasn't happy when someone on FSU's sideline was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct afterward. He said after the game that that call was "even more garbage."

"Cowardly," Fisher said. "Gutless and wrong. Take it, fine it, do whatever they want to do with it. That's a fact. Look at the film. It's ridiculous." …

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Florida Gators' Mark Thompson suspended after marijuana citation


UPDATE, 4:30: Florida Gators running back Mark Thompson was cited for marijuana possession (less than 20 grams), according to Alachua County court records. 

Thompson was pulled over early Thursday morning for failing to stop at a stop sign, and a University of Florida Police Department officer smelled marijuana during the stop, according to an incident report. Thompson admitted that marijuana found in the car was his, according to the report. 

Arraignment in the case is scheduled for Nov. 17. 

The original story on his suspension for Saturday's Florida-Georgia game is below: 

The Florida Gators will be without running back Mark Thompson against Georgia on Saturday "due to some choices and decisions he's made," the program announced Friday morning. That's typical Jim McElwain language for "suspended."

Mark Thompson will not be making the trip to Jacksonville due to some choices and decisions he's made. #Gators

Thompson, a juco transfer, is UF's third-leading rusher with 252 yards on 57 carries. His two rushing touchdowns trail only Jordan Scarlett, and Thompson has started three games this season. Thompson is listed at 6-foot-2, 228 pounds and is Gators' biggest back. …

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Could a two-loss team make the College Football Playoff?

Coach Jimbo Fisher was asked this week about the possibility of a two-loss team getting in.

Associated Press

Coach Jimbo Fisher was asked this week about the possibility of a two-loss team getting in.

Saturday's primetime, nationally televised matchup between No. 3 Clemson and No. 12 Florida State isn't as big as I thought it'd be. The Seminoles' two losses made sure of that.

But it's still pretty big. Clemson hasn't dominated this season but remains undefeated. I have the Tigers in my final four. That means this game will still have an impact on who comes to Tampa for the Jan. 9 national title game.

So what about FSU? Do the ‘Noles have any shot, at all, of sneaking into the College Football Playoff?

Coach Jimbo Fisher was asked this week about the possibility of a two-loss team getting in. Here's his response:

"Anything can happen. (If) you can figure out college football right now, tell me. I mean, you're not going to. We're in a crazy time right now. You don't know what's going to happen. But no, I don't see that. I could see it happening, I could see it not happening. It wouldn't surprise me a lick. …

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FSU football rules out Jesus Wilson for Clemson game

No. 12 Florida State will be without wide receiver Jesus Wilson in Saturday's primetime matchup against No. 3 Clemson, coach Jimbo Fisher announced Thursday.

Wilson did not practice this week after injuring his foot two weeks ago against Wake Forest. Wilson's 133 career receptions are 10th in school history, and he ranks third this season with 30 catches for 390 yards.

With Wilson out, Nyqwan Murray and Wharton High product Auden Tate will likely see more playing time.

Star safety Derwin James officially remains "out indefinitely" on the Seminoles' injury report. He is not expected to play Saturday.


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WATCH: Stetson University's crazy, walk-off kick-six overtime finish

The craziest college football finish of the weekend involved one of Florida's teams and a game-winning play that will be hard to top.

Stetson University was on the road and tied with Campbell University in overtime when Campbell lined up for a field goal. Check out what happened next.

That was Donald Payne who blocked it and eventually scored, after Jeb Boudreaux took the return the first 85 yards.

The game was crazy before that, too. The Hatters led 24-10 in the fourth quarter before Campbell scored two touchdowns in the final 2:13 to force overtime.

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Florida State football: No update on star Derwin James for Clemson game

Florida State star safety Derwin James is continuing to progress from a left knee injury, but there is still no timetable for his return.

Coach Jimbo Fisher said James' torn meniscus can't be evaluated with an MRI, so it's hard to gauge his status. During his weekly Monday news conference, Fisher didn't sound optimistic that James would return for Saturday's big, primetime game against No. 3 Clemson.

James has been out since he injured his knee in Week 2 against Charleston Southern. He had surgery six weeks ago to repair the cartilage, and Fisher said then that James would likely miss 5-7 weeks.

James wasn't on the FSU depth chart released Monday. 

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Jim McElwain: Georgia's Jacob Eason is the 'future of the SEC'

The Florida Gators tried to poach five-star quarterback Jacob Eason at the end of the last recruiting cycle, so it's no surprise that they're very high on the Georgia starter.

"He's the future of the SEC," UF coach Jim McElwain said Monday during his weekly news conference. "He's that good."

Eason is seventh in the league in passing yards (1,366) with nine touchdowns and five interceptions as a true freshman. 

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Jeff Tedford, Doug Nussmeier potential coaching candidates at Fresno State

Another college football coaching carousel move could lead to some local action.

Fresno State fired Tim DeRuyter on Sunday after a 1-7 start to this year and a 4-16 rut.

The top name to replace him seems to be former Bucs assistant Jeff Tedford. I use the term "former Bucs assistant" loosely. Tedford was hired to be Lovie Smith's offensive coordinator before the 2014 season but had health problems and never got to call plays for the team. His departure opened the way for the Bucs to hire Dirk Koetter as their offensive coordinator the next season.

Another name that has been mentioned for the Bulldogs' head coaching job: Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.

Nussmeier was a candidate for the Southern Miss job last year and seems destined to become a head coach, sooner or later. He was Fresno State's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2008. …

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Florida Gators' bye week included recruiting time in Tampa

The Florida Gators' bye week is over, but before we dive into Georgia week, let's look back at one of the most important bye-week duties: recruiting.

UF missed a key recruiting opportunity when its Oct. 8 home game against LSU was postponed because of Hurricane Matthew (and eventually moved to Nov. 19 in Baton Rouge).

The Gators' recruiting stops included some time in the Tampa Bay area. Coach Jim McElwain stopped by Hillsborough High (home of four-star defensive end and UF commit Zachary Carter).

McElwain stopped by the Borough today to chop it up with Coach G. #GoGators #GoBigRed


Jesuit High running back Malik Davis - Hillsborough County's newly minted all-time leading rusher - claimed an offer from the Gators.

Blessed to receive an offer from the University of Florida #Chompchomp #AMDG

When McElwain first took over the program, he joked (I think) that he had to convince some schools that he was in fact the Gators' new head coach. Now? There's some buzz around a program ranked No. 14 nationally. …

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Jim McElwain and the Texas Longhorns? USA Today raises the possibility


USA Today's Dan Wolken has an interesting thought on this season's college football coaching carousel (in the second item here). 

The Florida Gators' Jim McElwain might be a candidate at Texas.

This, obviously, is pure speculation. The Longhorns still have a coach (Charlie Strong). For all we know, Texas will win out, finish 9-3 and somehow win a wild Big 12. Unlikely, sure, but possible.

If Texas fires Strong, the obvious hire is Houston's Tom Herman. But if that doesn't work out, Wolken expects McElwain, Larry Fedora (UNC), Chris Petersen (Washington) and Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss) to be among the potential candidates.

So that's a lot of ifs to go with the speculation. But it's educated speculation; Wolken broke the story that UF was hiring Scott Stricklin as its new AD, so he knows what he's talking about. 

For what it's worth, I don't expect McElwain to be in the mix. He got a contract extension from UF seven months ago to become the highest paid coach in the SEC East. The Gators have announced plans to build a new stand-alone football complex - McElwain is involved in that. …

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Miami Hurricanes in a post-Florida State letdown (again)


In a span of three weeks, the Miami Hurricanes have fallen from No. 10 in the country to 4-3 and likely out of the ACC Coastal Division race. That's what three consecutive losses will do to you. It's also what happens after the ‘Canes play Florida State.

I touched on it last week in the Baker's Dozen, but let's look deeper:

2016: Miami lost 20-19 to FSU thanks to a blocked extra point in the closing minutes.

After that... Miami couldn't overcome a 17-point deficit, falling 20-13 to North Carolina. Five days later, the ‘Canes gave up eight sacks in last night's 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech.\

2015: Miami gave up a late score in a 29-24 loss in Tallahassee.

After that... Miami beat Virginia Tech 30-20 the next week but got trounced 58-0 the week after that by Clemson. The debacle cost Al Golden his job.

2014: FSU scored with 3:05 left to cap off a 16-point comeback in a 30-26 win at Miami.

After that... Miami lost by 17 points to a five-win Virginia team, then lost their final two games after that to finish 6-7.

2013: FSU blew out Miami 41-14 in a top-10 showdown on the Seminoles' way to the national title. …

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Florida Gators' Dontay Bassett out 4-6 months with foot surgery

Florida Gators power forward and Oldsmar Christian product Dontay Bassett will need surgery to fix a stress fracture in his right foot.

Bassett will likely need 4-6 months to recover and will redshirt this season.

The 6-foot-9, 222-pound freshman was a three-star recruit and is originally from California.

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Is the SEC East worse than the ACC Coastal?


Miami plays at Virginia Tech in a big ACC Coastal game a battle between a pair of 4-2, unranked teams. That says something about the division, which continues to be the little brother to the Atlantic (home to Clemson, Louisville and Florida State).

It also got me thinking about another overlooked, mediocre division. The SEC East. Maybe Florida's ugly 40-14 win over Missouri is still fresh in my mind.

So, I wonder, which division is worse: The SEC East or the ACC Coastal?

Here's a breakdown of their Sagarin ratings (an imperfect but solid set of numbers designed to rank every team in the country):

SEC East
Florida: 16
Tennessee: 21
Georgia: 50
Missouri: 57
Vanderbilt: 68
Kentucky: 76
South Carolina: 77
Average: 52

ACC Coastal
Miami: 22
Virginia Tech: 24
North Carolina: 34
Pitt: 40
Georgia Tech: 45
Duke: 59
Virginia: 78
Average: 43

Non-conference records are tricky to compare, just because the SEC East has played weaker teams. The East is 13-3 out of conference, compared to the Coastal's 17-7 record.

The East has a better record against Power Five opponents, too, at 2-2 (compared to the Coastal's 4-5). …

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