Hooker: Florida schools working to close borders

Dave Hooker

Tennessee and Florida State are hoping they've found something they long took for granted: stability.

Remember when it was a given in Knoxville and Tallahassee.

Bobby Bowden was the head coach at Florida State since 1976. Phillip Fulmer led the Vols through the 'T' since 1992. Johnny Majors did the same before Fulmer for 15 full seasons.

Time, however, brought change. Since firing Fulmer, UT has hired two coaches in little more than a year. Bowden begrudgingly turned over the reigns at Florida State to head-coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher.

Credit both UT's latest staffs and Fisher's with salvaging recruiting classes that could have easily slipped into the dumpster.

Playing time, academic support and facilities are all important in recruiting. But all pale in comparison to stability.

Think any of the prospects who signed to play for Lane Kiffin thought he'd be gone in a year? Not a chance.

Think any of the prospects who signed with Derek Dooley have doubts about his longevity? Nope, or they would have signed elsewhere.

Florida State's change brought some much-needed stability. Recruiters from other schools regularly used Bowden's age and pending retirement as a reason to look elsewhere.

It was evident in Bowden's final few seasons, as the Seminoles looked like just another team, instead of the ultra-talented 'Noles who struck fear in opposing programs during the 1990s.

"What people want is clarity," Fisher said. "They don't want any indecision. They don't want any confusion."

With stability (or at least the perception of it), the Seminoles' recruiting soared. FSU picked up two highly rated prospects, linebacker Jeff Luc and defensive back Lamarcus Joyner, soon after Bowden officially stepped down. Those two signings helped the Seminoles to the 10th-best class in the nation, according to Rivals and Scout.

"You saw once it happened (but) I don't think it had anything to do with me or that Coach Bowden left," Fisher said. "Jeff Luc and LaMarcus Joyner and those guys got on board right away because they knew exactly where it was going."

The stability in Tallahassee won't be a good thing for the Vols when they recruit in Florida.

The three big schools in Florida haven't looked collectively stronger in more than a decade. The Gators are as good as ever. Miami appears to be re-emerging and Florida State has a long-term plan for the future.

Moreover, South Florida has shown an ability to stand toe-to-toe with other schools for the second-level prospects who used to venture elsewhere.

"We're starting to get a grasp," Fisher said when asked if those schools could close Florida's borders. "We're getting much more aggressive.

"We are definitely trying to lock this state down to make sure we get the guys from within this state that we need."

Fisher thought so much of in-state recruiting that he tabbed a former Vol to head up his recruiting in South Florida. Eddie Gran spent one year at UT, but quickly surfaced as one of its best recruiters under Kiffin.

Now he's ready to cover the Miami area for FSU.

"We're very, very lucky to have him," Fisher said.

Fisher said stability - and a family environment - helped FSU lure Gran from UT.

Florida State helped ease the transition from Bowden to Fisher by giving Fisher a massive amount of input into the 2008 and 2009 recruiting classes. The Vols were forced to provide the same sense of stability during their most recent transition.

UT assistants Lance Thompson and Jim Chaney offered vast recruiting connections and an offensive system that could excite prospects.

Still, that's not true stability, which makes one wonder what a young, up-and-coming coach can do at UT when he's got stability to sell along with the school's other strengths.

Maybe this time we'll find out.

Dave Hooker covers recruiting. He can be reached at hookerd@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 52

Ironcity writes:

I wonder if Gran would have stayed if he knew Kiffin was going to leave and he would be working for Dooley. Its my understanding that he really liked Knoxville.

HtownVol writes:

in response to Ironcity:

I wonder if Gran would have stayed if he knew Kiffin was going to leave and he would be working for Dooley. Its my understanding that he really liked Knoxville.

I doubt it, unless he was getting the O-coordinator job.
I wish we kept him though, he did great with M. Hardesty. We all know he is a great coach and he will do great at FSU.

FWBVol writes:

OK Dave, There will always be kids that want to leave Florida for whatever reason. Some kids grew up a Tennessee, Auburn, Clemson...fan. Other kids are just tired of all the heat and humidity. And still others want a change of scenery.

The Vols have never been able to get every player from the state of Tennessee they wanted even during the best of times.

The big thing is to identify the kids in Florida, Georgia and the other states that will give Tennessee a serious look.

77VolFS writes:

From what I know about Eddie and his background, he really is not a fit with Kiffin. UT was a good opportunity to stay in SEC area after Turbeville was let go at Auburn. He would be a good fit with Dooley but definitely understand why he left for FSU asst. head coach position.

lincolncovol writes:

being agodly man of morals you have to believe thats one reason he left the k----- deal. he would have probably loved working for CDD,a man of sound morals.

Cldvols1 writes:

Wish the Noles luck on their upcoming season, afterall they're my favorite collegiate FL team. But first and foremost I'm a Vol all the way baby!!! GBO

volunteer_cowboy writes:

wish gran was still here

99gator writes:

it wasn't bowden's pending retirement that cost florida state recruits, it was the fact that he couldn't remember their names.

FLAVOLS writes:

Miami re-emerging??? No.

letthebigdoghunt writes:

Any team that has an opportunity to beat fl is a team to cheer for. I like most thought Gran to be a good coach and wish him success.

SEAL_9821 writes:

Makes me wonder how B.Brown will develop now that Gran is gone. I just hope he stays with us and doesn't decide to leave.

joeaubie writes:

Friend of mine knows Gran from Auburn days. Gran realized pretty quickly he wasn't going to be at UT very long-not because of anything except Kiffin. Lil Lane was a controlling little punk to his assistants as well. Wish Gran well, he is a class act.

TLepage writes:

We will ALWAYS be able to get kids from florida..... How many, i don't know... Some kids want to go away from home for college, if they have the opportunity.... I for example am from Virginia and decided to leave the commonwealth for my undergraduate education.... I could have gone to school in virginia, but i wanted to experience another part of the country.... I am back in virginia now, but I wouldn't trade my experience of going to school out-of-state for anything.... Every stud player from florida isn't going to want to stay in-state... I acknowledge the fact that distance from home can be a factor in decision making and that it will be harder to convince kids to come to UT if the three major fla programs are competing at an elite level, but there is plenty of talent to go around in florida and some of the elite players are going to want to experience and explore other parts of the country... Kids from all over the country decide to leave their homes to go to school in other areas all the time, football players aren't any different.... I wouldn't read into this article too much...

richvol writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are right DC...I have noticed this to my dismay. Urban is going afer,and signing,the national players that UT goes after every year.

Spurrier didn't do that...as he said he hated to recruit further than 50 miles away.

VOLS_SEC_RULES writes:

in response to Ironcity:

I wonder if Gran would have stayed if he knew Kiffin was going to leave and he would be working for Dooley. Its my understanding that he really liked Knoxville.

I would agree. He may have liked Knoxville but Gran never put his signature on his contract and therefore did not have to pay any penalty when he left early. When Tuberville was fired, Gran needed work. Gran pressed Kiffin hard to get a job. He did a great job for us and I wish he had stayed...... I imagine it was difficult for him as a Christian to work around Kiffin and his lack of ethics. Best wishes to Coach Gran.

TLepage writes:

in response to Cldvols1:

Wish the Noles luck on their upcoming season, afterall they're my favorite collegiate FL team. But first and foremost I'm a Vol all the way baby!!! GBO

who did you want to win the '98 NC game????

TLepage writes:

in response to VOLS_SEC_RULES:

I would agree. He may have liked Knoxville but Gran never put his signature on his contract and therefore did not have to pay any penalty when he left early. When Tuberville was fired, Gran needed work. Gran pressed Kiffin hard to get a job. He did a great job for us and I wish he had stayed...... I imagine it was difficult for him as a Christian to work around Kiffin and his lack of ethics. Best wishes to Coach Gran.

he did a good job for the most part, but failed miserably as our special teams coordinator.... We stunk in every single aspect of special teams......

TLepage writes:

by the way, i just saw an article on scout about Hunter long (top OL recruit in Memphis for 2011)..... He will be attending our junior day this weekend.... Not related to this article, but i thought it was interesting....

DingoVol writes:

I have told all my FSU buddies that they will love Eddie Gran. He can coach and is a great recruiter. He moved into our neighborhood and I have not had a chance to meet him yet, but I will. I will ask him if Kiffin was as big an a-hole as we all think he is.

V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO writes:

in response to richvol:

You are right DC...I have noticed this to my dismay. Urban is going afer,and signing,the national players that UT goes after every year.

Spurrier didn't do that...as he said he hated to recruit further than 50 miles away.

Maybe that's why South Carolina still sucks... I'm just sayin'...

RoyaltyVol writes:

I think Jimbo Fisher and Derek Dooley both will do a fine job and get their programs back to where they belong.

TLepage writes:

in response to DingoVol:

I have told all my FSU buddies that they will love Eddie Gran. He can coach and is a great recruiter. He moved into our neighborhood and I have not had a chance to meet him yet, but I will. I will ask him if Kiffin was as big an a-hole as we all think he is.

if you do get the chance to talk to him, let us know what he says.... I'm pretty interested....

TLepage writes:

in response to V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO:

Maybe that's why South Carolina still sucks... I'm just sayin'...

the funny thing about south carolina fans is that they think they have a really competetive program.... they are so dumb, they are hard to talk football with.... They've never even finished better then third in the SEC east....

Ayres_Hall writes:

Urban Meyer has mentally left the building. When he made the decision to resign, he left something behind, even though it was only an overnight resignment. Same for Billy Donovan when he resigned (again overnight) after the second NCAA title... Florida BB has never been the same.

VOLS_SEC_RULES writes:

in response to TLepage:

he did a good job for the most part, but failed miserably as our special teams coordinator.... We stunk in every single aspect of special teams......

very true!

LCfastball writes:

That a boy hooker, keep up the good work on the Schools from the " TOOL " state of the U.S...... Look at the Map and tell me what it looks like...

TLepage writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

one player away from what????? The NIT????

kman29 writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Getting Brandon Knight next year will be a big piece to getting Florida bball back. Then 2011 will bring in already comitted top PG Austin Rivers (Doc's son) to UF. Thats the season I think people will see the program back to where it was.

TLepage writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Donovan is a great coach and has a good job in the PAST.... but we live in the NOW.... You guys are a bubble team right now and may not even make the ncaa.... Its going to take more then one player to go deep in the tourney.... try 2 or 3.....

TLepage writes:

in response to kman29:

Getting Brandon Knight next year will be a big piece to getting Florida bball back. Then 2011 will bring in already comitted top PG Austin Rivers (Doc's son) to UF. Thats the season I think people will see the program back to where it was.

Rivers is more then likely going to end up at Duke.... He fell in love with the place when he was there the other weekend... And i'm pretty sure Knight is still undecided... Unfortunately, he will probably end up at kentucky (not UF)... Basically, you guys aren't going anywhere....

kman29 writes:

in response to TLepage:

Rivers is more then likely going to end up at Duke.... He fell in love with the place when he was there the other weekend... And i'm pretty sure Knight is still undecided... Unfortunately, he will probably end up at kentucky (not UF)... Basically, you guys aren't going anywhere....

lol! oh alright. Always have to love fans like yourself who have no connection to any of these kids or the schools, but already have the answers as to who is going where. Maybe some where down the line Rivers does switch his committment. But in the mean time he is committed to UF. Then again, I remember plenty of fans like yourself who were certain Boyton would not end up at UF. Certainly UF has hit a bump missing the tourney twice since winning the National title, yet at the same time they are still 1 win away from winning 20 games for the 12th striaght season. Certainly a far throw away from being a program going no where.

kman29 writes:

in response to TLepage:

Donovan is a great coach and has a good job in the PAST.... but we live in the NOW.... You guys are a bubble team right now and may not even make the ncaa.... Its going to take more then one player to go deep in the tourney.... try 2 or 3.....

Yes, Florida is a bubble team right now, which is a far better position than North Carolina is. Think the defending national champions wouldnt trade positions with UF right now? Elite program like Louisville are bubble teams too. It happens to even the best programs. As for needing more than one player to go deep into the tourney. Really? Must not follow college basketball much. Can you name another player other than Carmello Anthony from the Syracuse national championship team? college basketball is a sport where you can get 1 elite player and 4 serviceable players, taking you deep into the tourney.

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

........sigh....and we care why?

TLepage writes:

in response to kman29:

Yes, Florida is a bubble team right now, which is a far better position than North Carolina is. Think the defending national champions wouldnt trade positions with UF right now? Elite program like Louisville are bubble teams too. It happens to even the best programs. As for needing more than one player to go deep into the tourney. Really? Must not follow college basketball much. Can you name another player other than Carmello Anthony from the Syracuse national championship team? college basketball is a sport where you can get 1 elite player and 4 serviceable players, taking you deep into the tourney.

for you to think that UF can make a championship run with only one more player, makes me think that you don't watch basketball.... in your own words, really?????? The facts are that you guys are fourth in the SEC east, in a down year in the sec.... The only teams in the SEC that will make the tourney are UK, Vandy, and UT.... Your only quality win was against Michigan State... Other then that you haven't beaten anyone remotely decent... You must be wearing Gator-Goggles if you think UF is only one player away from being a championship contender... You will clinch a trip to the NIT after you loose to BP and Co. tomorrow night..... You are really dumb if you think one player can solve all of your problems....

lakesidegator writes:

in response to 99gator:

it wasn't bowden's pending retirement that cost florida state recruits, it was the fact that he couldn't remember their names.

Amen....uhhhh, what did you say your name was?
Signed,

Bobby Bowden

kman29 writes:

in response to TLepage:

for you to think that UF can make a championship run with only one more player, makes me think that you don't watch basketball.... in your own words, really?????? The facts are that you guys are fourth in the SEC east, in a down year in the sec.... The only teams in the SEC that will make the tourney are UK, Vandy, and UT.... Your only quality win was against Michigan State... Other then that you haven't beaten anyone remotely decent... You must be wearing Gator-Goggles if you think UF is only one player away from being a championship contender... You will clinch a trip to the NIT after you loose to BP and Co. tomorrow night..... You are really dumb if you think one player can solve all of your problems....

Thank you for proving what I thought. You really don't follow much college basketball. Yes, not just Florida, but ANY school can make a championship run with just one more player. Now that does not mean with just any player, that one player has to be a special player like a John Wall, but you get a kid like that and now your Kentucky the #2 team in the nation. Yes I know they have some good support players, but UK without Wall is not #2. But you go ahead and think that 1 player in college basketball CAN NOT carry an entire team. It happens every year, maybe you should actually watch the game.

As for your analysis of Florida. Every sports site that does bracket predictions have Florida in. Right now they are 19-8 with remaining games of Tennessee (Home) Georgia (Away) Vanderbilt (Home) Kentucky (Away). UF was a missed layup away from beating UT in Knoxville, so the notion they can beat them at home is not very far fetched.

As for who Florida has beat..

Michigan State (21-7)
Florida State (19-7)
NC State (15-13)
Rutgers (14-13)

And before bashing NC State and Rutgers lets remember, 1 they are programs out of the ACC and Big East respectively (the two best conference in bball) with winning records, with NC State having key wins over Duke and Wake Forest. Rutgers with wins over Princeton and Georgetown. But you go ahead and think that wins over 2 ACC teams, 1 Big 10 team and 1 Big East team out of conference is only beating "1 team that is remotely decent". I wont even get into the games where UF gave schools like Syracuse and Kentucky a scare all the way until the end of the game, before finally falling.

Clearly you are one of those who needs to follow the game a little better before commenting on it.

TLepage writes:

in response to kman29:

Thank you for proving what I thought. You really don't follow much college basketball. Yes, not just Florida, but ANY school can make a championship run with just one more player. Now that does not mean with just any player, that one player has to be a special player like a John Wall, but you get a kid like that and now your Kentucky the #2 team in the nation. Yes I know they have some good support players, but UK without Wall is not #2. But you go ahead and think that 1 player in college basketball CAN NOT carry an entire team. It happens every year, maybe you should actually watch the game.

As for your analysis of Florida. Every sports site that does bracket predictions have Florida in. Right now they are 19-8 with remaining games of Tennessee (Home) Georgia (Away) Vanderbilt (Home) Kentucky (Away). UF was a missed layup away from beating UT in Knoxville, so the notion they can beat them at home is not very far fetched.

As for who Florida has beat..

Michigan State (21-7)
Florida State (19-7)
NC State (15-13)
Rutgers (14-13)

And before bashing NC State and Rutgers lets remember, 1 they are programs out of the ACC and Big East respectively (the two best conference in bball) with winning records, with NC State having key wins over Duke and Wake Forest. Rutgers with wins over Princeton and Georgetown. But you go ahead and think that wins over 2 ACC teams, 1 Big 10 team and 1 Big East team out of conference is only beating "1 team that is remotely decent". I wont even get into the games where UF gave schools like Syracuse and Kentucky a scare all the way until the end of the game, before finally falling.

Clearly you are one of those who needs to follow the game a little better before commenting on it.

First off, Kentucky isn't just John Wall.... They are a championship contender because of their big three: John Wall, Cousins, and Patterson... UF has no one of that caliber, therefore you need three more players to be a contender... Secondly, you are out of your mind if you think rutgers and NC state (last place in the acc) are quality wins... Have fun loosing to us tomorrow night....

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

No. Seriously, I don't care. Will Tn beat them in 2010? No. 2011? Maybe not. It will happen. I care about my team and no other. I don't understand the Florida love from these writers.

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

Wow kman29, that kind of defending your team when they aren't that good is like what us TN fans did in football last year. Moral victories won't get you in the tourney.

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

Well TN went 3-1 against Gators in their 2 Title years. We did what we had to do, sorry if none of the other teams could. BP OWNS Donovan.

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

I'm outta here before these lizards kept the comments coming and them brag a UF post got more comments than any TN post has in weeks. That's how they are....I'll go to another VOL site to read on my team rather than going to a KY or MSU site to see what THEY are saying about my team! Classless.

kman29 writes:

in response to AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons:

Wow kman29, that kind of defending your team when they aren't that good is like what us TN fans did in football last year. Moral victories won't get you in the tourney.

Im starting to believe most of you dont follow college basketball. What do you do, just wake up see a score and thats the depth of following the sport? Is Florida a great team? No. But for a UT fan to say they arent very good is funny especially when comparing both Tennessee and Florida.

Tennessee 20-6
Florida 19-8

Tennessee 8-4 (SEC)
Florida 8-4 (SEC)

Head to Head:

Florida 60
Tennessee 61

UT fan does realize a UF win tomorrow does put Florida ahead of Tennessee in the SEC standings dont they? lol!

99gator writes:

got to hand it to DC and kman....

turned a discussion centered around football recruiting in the state of florida into a discussion about the florida basketball program.

that takes skill

kman29 writes:

in response to TLepage:

First off, Kentucky isn't just John Wall.... They are a championship contender because of their big three: John Wall, Cousins, and Patterson... UF has no one of that caliber, therefore you need three more players to be a contender... Secondly, you are out of your mind if you think rutgers and NC state (last place in the acc) are quality wins... Have fun loosing to us tomorrow night....

UF has nobody of that caliber? Maybe your one of those who are still hung up on Patterson because of his rep out of highschool, but there is a reason he is still at the college game.

Patterson averages:
14.8 pts, 7.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists.

By Comparison:

Tyus 12.5 pts, 7.0 rebounds, 0.5 assists.
Parsons 11.4 pts, 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists.

Parsons wasnt even a starter until after the middle of the season and yet both him and Tyus are almost comparable with Patterson in overall numbers give or take a couple points. Then add in...

Boynton: 13.5 pts, 2.8 rebounds, 2.7 assist
Walker: 13.0 pts, 3.1 rebounds, 5.1 assist

So yes, UF does have the caliber of Cousins or a Patterson on their team, just not Wall and I cant believe that you really can be that ignorant to believe that a John Wall on UFs team instead of Kentucky does not raise those numbers even more for UF players and minimize the impact of a Cousins and Patterson for UK. Teams play UK to stop Wall. You shut down Wall you shut down UK. Thats a fact.

kman29 writes:

in response to 99gator:

got to hand it to DC and kman....

turned a discussion centered around football recruiting in the state of florida into a discussion about the florida basketball program.

that takes skill

Hey! we saw an opening and ran with it. lol! Next week is March, how can college basketball not become a topic on most posts?

TLepage writes:

in response to kman29:

Hey! we saw an opening and ran with it. lol! Next week is March, how can college basketball not become a topic on most posts?

Go away swamp rat... let me guess, you either have a rat-tail or mullet.... You must secretly love UT... You spend an awful lot of time on UT websites, reading UT articles, and posting message on UT message boards... you are a loser and so are your friends DC and 99gator....

TLepage writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

actually, we have more basketball tradition then you (with exception to your two nc's)..... We still have more sec championships, more wins, and more trips to the big dance.... I can't wait until you guys loose to us tonight....

TLepage writes:

in response to AthensHomerDawg:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

i'm shocked that we are 17, considering the fact that we have had two 5-7 teams and one 7-6 team over the course of the past decade.... I'd be interested to see that ranking system for the 1990's... I'm guessing UT is #2 or #3....

TLepage writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What happens when you "lose" to us, kentucky, and vandy????? Answer: a trip to the NIT and I will be laughing at you..... Let me guess, you are from a doublewide in central or northern florida... You are very bitter at the world, thats why you spend all of your time on UT websites posting garbage... Here is some advice, go away and start posting on gatornation.com or some of the other garbage florida websites....

TLepage writes:

in response to kman29:

UF has nobody of that caliber? Maybe your one of those who are still hung up on Patterson because of his rep out of highschool, but there is a reason he is still at the college game.

Patterson averages:
14.8 pts, 7.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists.

By Comparison:

Tyus 12.5 pts, 7.0 rebounds, 0.5 assists.
Parsons 11.4 pts, 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists.

Parsons wasnt even a starter until after the middle of the season and yet both him and Tyus are almost comparable with Patterson in overall numbers give or take a couple points. Then add in...

Boynton: 13.5 pts, 2.8 rebounds, 2.7 assist
Walker: 13.0 pts, 3.1 rebounds, 5.1 assist

So yes, UF does have the caliber of Cousins or a Patterson on their team, just not Wall and I cant believe that you really can be that ignorant to believe that a John Wall on UFs team instead of Kentucky does not raise those numbers even more for UF players and minimize the impact of a Cousins and Patterson for UK. Teams play UK to stop Wall. You shut down Wall you shut down UK. Thats a fact.

I want to go back to this argument, to show how little you know about basketball... The two top teams in the country this year and the favorites to win it all right now are Kentucky and Kansas.... If you look at both teams closely, they are more then just one player.... Kentucky for example has three players projected to be drafted in the top ten(wall#1, cousins#4, and patterson#10)... how can you say that kentucky is only john wall???? If you take away any of Kentucky’s big three, they would be a completely different team and not nearly as competitive.... The same thing goes for Kansas (Xavier henry#11, Aldrich#14, and Collins#26).... Again, Kansas has a big three that they rely on... Take away one of those three and they are a good team, but not a dominant team... How many Florida players are projected to be drafted in the first round???? Answer: ZERO!!!!! Therefore, you guys have a lot of work to do and the only single player that would make you a contender is Lebron James... If you don't understand that you need more then one elite player to be a championship contender, then you are obviously the one that knows very little about basketball....

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