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A Florida fiasco? Or a Forbes fiasco?

Interesting times at the University of Florida, which as Forbes reports has decided to eliminate the computer science department.

The University of Florida announced this past week that it was dropping its computer science department, which will allow it to save about $1.7 million$1.4 million.  The school is eliminating all funding for teaching assistants in computer science, cutting the graduate and research programs entirely, and moving the tattered remnants into other departments.

Let’s get this straight: in the midst of a technology revolution, with a shortage of engineers and computer scientists, UF decides to cut computer science completely?

Students at UF have already organized protests, and have created a website dedicated to saving the CS department.  Several distinguished computer scientists have written to the president of UF to express their concerns, in very blunt terms.  Prof. Zvi Galil, Dean of Computing at Georgia Tech, is “amazed, shocked, and angered.”  Prof. S.N. Maheshwari, former Dean of Engineering at IIT Delhi, calls this move “outrageously wrong.”  Computer scientist Carl de Boor, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and winner of the 2003 National Medal of Science, asked the UF president “What were you thinking?”

(Note to the students, if you need more quotes for your site: I think this move is shockingly short-sighted.  The University of Florida is moving backwards while the rest of the world moves ahead.)

Meanwhile, the athletic budget for the current year is $99 million, $97.7 million, an increase of more than $2 million from last year.  The increase alone would offset the savings supposedly gained by cutting computer science.

In a separate story, Forbes notes that the university suggests the magazine has it all wrong.

A Forbes article by contributing writer Steven Salzberg falsely claims that the University of Florida is eliminating the Computer Science Department.

The Dean of the College of Engineering has put on the table for discussion a budget plan to reorganize the Computer & Information Science and Engineering Department.

Under that proposal, all undergraduate and graduate degree curriculum would remain the same and the college would maintain its brainpower and research capacity. The plan calls for no lay-offs of tenure-track faculty. Faculty lay-offs are expected, however, if across-the-board cuts are made in the College of Engineering.

The proposed budget plan would grow the number of graduates from the CISE department because faculty members would be expected to assume a greater teaching responsibility. About $1.4 million in savings would come primarily from the elimination of graduate teaching assistants.

The Southeastern Conference…

…demonstrated again last night why it is the best in the nation when it comes to college football.

The Auburn Tigers beat the Oregon Ducks, 22-19, to win their first national title in 53 years. But for the SEC, it marked its fifth-consecutive national title. In reverse order, Auburn, Alabama, Florida, LSU and Florida have been crowned the best college football team in the country.

The Tigers’ march to the national championship was similar to their conference colleagues — a punishing offense and a tenacious defense marked their year. But their pursuit of the sport’s top prize also was unlike any of the previous four — an almost non-stop controversy surrounding whether star quarterback Cam Newton was being peddled by his father to the highest bidder. Despite an NCAA investigation that cleared the player and his school, the media continue to ask if the Tigers’ championship will eventually be taken from them.

Unscathed, at least so far in this controversy (that might not be one), is head coach Gene Chizik, who already has his eyes set on bringing another title to Auburn

Could Chizik win another one next year? Could the SEC extend its championship run to six years? At least one sports source thinks so. And LSU’s case was helped today after head coach Les Miles announced he would not leave to take a similar position at Michigan.

The SEC’s dominance has raised a few questions, including the way its football programs recruit. SI’s Andy Staples writes:

Several SEC schools make a practice of signing more players to letters-of-intent than scholarship availability would allow. This can result in messy divorces, as players who have outlived their usefulness get chased off to lower-division schools or placed on medical hardship. In eight of the 10 bowls involving SEC teams, SEC school had signed more players over a four-year period than its opponent. This allows coaches to cover their recruiting mistakes. In Monday’s matchup, Auburn had signed 19 more players than Oregon over a four-year span. In the Capital One Bowl, Alabama had signed 25 more players than Michigan State. In the Sugar Bowl, Arkansas had signed 30 more players than Ohio State.

Grumbling? Perhaps.

The SEC, of course, has no guarantee that it will win any football national championships in the next 20 years. But it’s national-recruiting philosophy, consistent media attention, jam-packed stadiums and recent history contribute to a reasonable conclusion — six in a row might not happen, but another national championship is not far away.

So, which team…

…do you think my boys are rooting for, as the Outback Bowl between Penn State and Florida continues?

Nicky and Dominic rooting for...for...um...gee, I forget :-) on Twitpic

Urban Meyer… (UPDATED)

1st UPDATE: 6:55 p.m. EST: If there are any health issues Meyer is grappling with, he did not use them as a reason for his surprise decision today to step down as coach. Instead he suggested it was done so that he could spend more time with his family.

That line is used often in professional and collegiate sports, and almost always it rings hollow and causes the media to snoop for additional (and in their opinion truthful) reasons. But perhaps in this case, Meyer is indeed being upfront and honest.

Consider that his job is not in jeopardy, and that by retiring he is walking away from as much as $20 million.

Meyer turned the Gators into a perennial national contender, though the program slipped to 7-5 this season, but that hasn’t stopped a couple of fans from suggesting he quit on the university in trying times. Give me a break. One of the biggest mistakes “fans” make is to assume that they, the university, the team and anyone else associated with a big-time college football program are somehow owed something by a coach.

They can’t be serious. But they think they are. So, too, are some sports columnists. ESPN’s Pat Forde spared little effort in trashing Meyer, suggesting that the coach “should have walked off and become a family man last year, because the time since then has only damaged his record and his reputation.”

Brilliant (not).

Because of the strength of the Florida program, there will be many candidates for the job.


ORIGINAL POST: …is stepping down as football coach at the University of Florida.

This is one of those bombshell announcements that periodically take place in the world around us; and when they do, they often remind us about what our priorities ought to be.

The link highlighted above provides enough background information for you to know (or remember) that Meyer almost quit a year ago after concerns about his health developed. He returned after a short respite, and to my knowledge he has had no recurring health problems.

But if I’m correct, that certainly doesn’t mean he feels good

A Florida television station has included a statement released by Meyer. In part it reads:

At this time in my life, however, I fully grasp the sacrifices my 24/7 profession has demanded of me, and I know it is time to put my focus on my family and life away from the field.  The decision to step down was a difficult one.  But, after spending more than two decades motivating and celebrating the young men I’ve been so proud to coach, I relish the opportunity to cheer for my three terrific kids as they compete in their own respective sports.

Do they get a national championship football team with that?

Incoming students to one of the top college journalism programs will be REQUIRED to buy a MAC, beginning next year.

Instant (and therefore perhaps flawed) analysis — bold. We’ll leave it at that.