All kinds of loose ends to update ...
I'd told you guys that Alabama coach Nick Saban would address the possibility of running back Jamar Taylor transferring to USF after one semester with the Tide. It's almost as if I knew he'd be in Montgomery on Wednesday and talking with the Advertiser's Tim Gayle, who got Saban to say everything short of "we wish him well."
"We'll make an announcement relative to that," Saban told the Advertiser on Wednesday. "Jamar is a guy that has personal things where we thought and he thought it would be better for him if he could go closer to home. I think we all agreed with his family on that, so we were all very supportive in helping him to get some place where it was going to be closer to home for him. When that occurs, we'll let everyone know."
Again, there is legwork to be done to get Taylor into USF in a short amount of time, and another challenge to try to get yet another hardship waiver that would allow him to play immediately this fall. But USF certainly seems committed to doing that legwork to help get a prospect who was ranked by Rivals.com as the fourth-best running back in Florida and the 25th-best nationally in this year's class.
-- The Sarasota Herald-Tribune had a solid story Wednesday on freshman running back Mike Ford, his turning himself into police last week on an outstanding warrant, and his relationship with his father, Robert Ford Jr., whose funeral will be Saturday in Sarasota. It's hard to think about the adversity endured by USF's running backs in the past year -- Mo Plancher suffering a season-ending injury in his first college game; the tragic death of freshman Keeley Dorsey; more tragedy as Aston Samuels lost his uncle, Andre Waters, to suicide; and now Ford's father dying at age 46. Jim Leavitt has 40-plus schools in for USF's Sling and Shoot 7-on-7 passing camp this weekend, but he'll be with Ford at the funeral services on Saturday.
-- Is incoming freshman guard Dominique Jones in any kind of academic trouble? In a word, no. USF coach Stan Heath took great exception to any suggestion that Jones hasn't posted qualifying test scores. True, Jones has yet to be cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse, but Heath said that is totally a procedural formality. He called Jones an "obvious qualifier" who has already been accepted into USF, is taking classes in the summer B session and holding his own in open-gym workouts with teammates.
-- All three of the Times' college writers -- myself, FSU writer Brian Landman and Antonya English -- had our preseason national top 10 rankings run on page 2c on Wednesday's section. After two picks of USC (not Southern Cal, as Brian will remind you), I'm the contrarian of the group, picking Michigan as a surprise champ. My top 10, if only to shamelessly stoke more comments from you guys: Michigan, USC, West Virginia, LSU, Texas, Florida, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Ohio State and Hawaii. Speaking of predictions, here's a fun preview from SundayMorningQuarterback.com, impressive at least for the sheer amount of copy devoted to USF. Some good Youtube linkage in there, too ...