Thoughts of the day: December 10, 2013

A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning:


Vernon Hargreaves III was named All-SEC as a freshman Monday, the only Gator to make the first team. Making second team were Loucheiz Purifoy and Dante Fowler. That only three Gators make first or second team All-SEC is not surprising given Florida’s 4-8 record, but there should never be a time when both Ole Miss (one first team, four second) and Vanderbilt (two first, two second) have more all-conference selections than the Gators. The Gators have outrecruited both Ole Miss and Vanderbilt the last three years and probably for at least 20 years before that. What does it tell us? That coaching and player development better improve in a hurry.


When 19th-ranked Florida takes on 13th-ranked Kansas tonight at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, it’s a chance for Billy Donovan and the Gators to make a statement. Kansas comes in with a full roster including freshman Andrew Wiggins, who, if you believe the hype leaps tall buildings with a single bound. Donovan will have eight scholarship players available and two walk-ons, the deepest bench he’s had all year, and with Scottie Wilbekin, Kasey Hill and DeVon Walker all healthy and able to go, he’s going to be able to press and apply the pressure to a Kansas team that is shooting only 29.8% from the three-point line. If the Gators can hit some shots from the three-point line and avoid silly fouls on the inside, this is a game they should win. I really like Florida’s chances if the Gators can score points, which will allow them to pressure full court.


What’s that old saying, “A day without an offensive coordinator rumor is like a day without sunshine?” Or have I simply been so bombarded by offensive coordinator rumors that I’m getting my old sayings mixed up? Whatever, the latest is that Florida is interested in Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck, a UCF grad who played high school football for Bob Stoops’ dad at Caridinal Mooney in Akron. He spent three years working under Mark Mangino at Kansas, then joined Bo Pelini’s staff at Nebraska in 2008. He was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2011. Here are the important numbers for 2013: 421.2 yards per game and 5.6 yards per play; 199.5 passing yards per game and 6.6 yards per attempt; and 221.67 rushing yards per game and 4.92 per attempt.


From some friends who make their living in the coach search business, come these remarks about Major Applewhite, the co-offensive coordinator at Texas who is thought to be under serious consideration for the Florida vacancy: (1) “He’s who you hire when everybody else says no”; (2) “He’s Brent Pease all over again”; (3) “I wouldn’t say Nick Saban fired him at Alabama after one year, but Nick told him that he probably needed to find another job”; and (4) “Considering they don’t have quarterbacks, the Texas offense isn’t bad but it’s more Darrell’s offense (co-offensive coordinator Darrell Wyatt) than it is Major’s.” The first two comments stuck with me.


Amid all the rumors that Mack Brown will be fired or forced into retirement after the Longhorns went 8-4 this season, The Dallas Morning News has reported that Texas athletic director Steve Patterson and Brown had a productive three-hour meeting on a flight from Dallas to New York Sunday. There is no doubt that Brown is in the twilight years of his Texas coaching career, but would it actually be prudent to force him out now? Billionaire benefactor Red McCombs thinks Brown will be back and so do a number of high profile, big bank account boosters, who may have more financial clout than the ones who want Brown gone. Considering he’s the only coach to win a national championship at Texas since Darrell Royal did it in 1970, maybe the smart thing to do would be let Mack have his farewell tour in 2014 and use the time to find the right coach to step in.


At some point, Jerry Jones’ ego grew from large enough to apply for statehood to something about the size of Australia. When he was smart enough to let Jimmy Johnson coach the Dallas Cowboys and was essentially the errand boy that Johnson dispatched to go get the players he needed to win, the Cowboys were the best team in the NFL. Then Jerry decided he knew football. Other than a Super Bowl (1995) won with Johnson’s players, the Cowboys have not made it to the National Conference championship game. They’ve only won two playoff games since 1996. If Jerry is interested in the Cowboys becoming “America’s Team once again, he should fire himself as GM, hire someone who is a real football guy and get a serious football coach. And while he’s about it, he needs a new quarterback. I’m convinced the Cowboys will never amount to much with Tony Romo.


As bad as Jones is, he’s not the worst owner in all of pro football. That title belongs to Little Danny Snyder of the Washington Redskins. Steve Spurrier, Joe Gibbs and Mike Shanahan are Hall of Fame coaches (Spurrier college, Gibbs and Shanahan NFL) but none of them could turn the Redskins into a winner. Now Snyder wants to dump Mike Shanahan and from all indications, Shanahan can’t wait for this season to end. Now Snyder is worth billions so obviously, he’s smart at something, just not football. When it comes to football, he must have gotten dropped on his head too many times when he was an infant.


Expect Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson to be named the new head coach at Wake Forest today. That will create a ripple effect that could open the door for Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin, who played at Bowling Green and was a graduate assistant under Urban Meyer at BGSU in 2001-02. Former Florida assistant and Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton also wants that job. Drayton is also said to be in the mix at Florida Atlantic … Dirk Koetter will get a second interview at Boise State. It’s likely that he will get the job. Koetter is the guy that got the Boise machine rolling from 1998-2000 with a 26-10 record. It is his offense that the Broncos have been running all these years … Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi was thought to be the leading candidate for the UConn job on Sunday, but UConn interviewed Ball State head coach Pete Lembo Monday and plans to interview Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco … Rutgers got to a bowl game. That’s the only thing that saved the job of Kyle Flood.


 My first spring in North Carolina in 1970 was eventful in my personal music evolution because that was my first exposure to Carolina beach music. I thought “beach music” meant The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean and the like. Then I discovered Bill Deal and the Rhondells and then The Embers and the Tams and the Band of Oz. These guys have all been around 40-50 years and they keep the show band concept alive, playing great dance music and singing great harmonies. Can you shag? My mind is willing but my feet don’t always cooperate, but I still give it a try. This is “Shama Lama Ding Dong” by The Band of Oz.


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Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.