Thoughts of the day: December 16, 2013

A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning.


Perhaps you were shocked by Tyler Murphy’s decision to transfer from the University of Florida. Don’t be. We all should have seen this coming. Murphy walked across the platform at the O-Dome Saturday and received his diploma, which makes him college football’s version of a free agent. His choices were to stay around another year at Florida where he was likely to find himself in the familiar role of backup, or try his luck somewhere else. Armed with his degree, he won’t have to sit a year and there are programs out there which could use a quarterback with his skills. There is a lot of speculation that he will land at Louisville along with Ian Silberman, an offensive lineman who announced he was transferring out earlier in the week. Before he makes any decision, I would imagine he will have some serious conversations with Steve Addazio at Boston College, who loses a senior quarterback. Addazio recruited Murphy to UF in the first place.


The healthy Tyler Murphy who stepped in when Jeff Driskel went down and guided the Gators to a win over Tennessee, then was a difference-maker in wins over Kentucky and Arkansas, can compete for a starting job somewhere. In those three games, Murphy threw for five touchdowns and only one interception, plus ran for two more. Then came LSU when his shoulder was injured because the Florida O-line couldn’t protect him. Murphy didn’t suddenly forget how to throw the ball in the next three games. He just couldn’t throw with a bad shoulder. Given good health and a good situation, I think he can play somewhere.


Murphy is the second scholarship quarterback to leave the Florida football program in the last seven days, joining Max Staver at the exit. That means that Will Muschamp and whoever is Florida’s offensive coordinator will have three scholarship quarterbacks to work with in the spring – Jeff Driskel, Skyler Mornhinweg (if he, too, doesn’t decide to transfer) and early enrollee freshman Will Grier. Well, it might be only two. There is no guarantee that Driskel will be fully recovered from the broken leg he suffered in the Tennessee game to participate in the spring. It’s a dangerous situation for the Gators because Driskel has never made it through a season without missing at least one game with an injury. At this stage of the game and given all the uncertainty surrounding the program, it’s going to be extremely difficult for Muschamp to land another quarterback in the recruiting class.


The unofficial count for transfers and dismissals on Muschamp’s watch now totals 30. It’s not unusual for four or five players a year to leave the program either as transfers or dismissed from the program, but 30 in three years? That’s an incredible amount of turnover in three years. Now some of the transfers were necessities such as Janoris Jenkins, Chris Martin and Dee Finley, holdovers from the previous coach and discipline problems. There are a number of players who have gone on and played at a high level elsewhere such as Josh Shaw (Southern Cal); Jonathan Dowling (Western Kentucky); Matt Patchan (Boston College, All-ACC second team); Mike McFarland (USF, second team All-American Athletic Conference); Lynden Trail (Norfolk State, finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award as D1AA’s best defensive player); and Gerald Christian (Louisville). And there are those who decided it’s time for a fresh start. It all adds up to 30 and that is the kind of attrition that no program can stand.


 The first thought that comes to mind when seeking the answer to why Florida’s door is revolving with such frequency is to look at recruiting. How many of these guys should have been recruited in the first place? The second place to look is coaching. Player development is obviously an issue with the Florida coaching staff the last three years so how many of these kids left or are leaving because of frustration with their development or lack of? Nineteen of the 30 are offensive players and that calls into question the position coaches and coordinators. This is not one of those boys will be boys situations that can be easily dismissed. Florida football just went through a 4-8 season and the perception about the football program and head coach is the lowest it has been since Doug Dickey in 1978. Something has to change in a hurry.


A few days ago the A list included Mike Norvell (Arizona State), Blake Anderson (North Carolina), Noel Mazzone (UCLA) and Tim Beck Nebraska. Of that list, I’m told Norvell has pulled his name from consideration, not surprising considering that he could be headed to Texas with boss Todd Graham. Yes, I know all about the agreement not to go after Graham that UT athletic director Steve Patterson signed. If Texas wants Graham, it will pay whatever buyout is necessary and pay Graham a king’s ransom to come to Austin. Mazzone got a hefty raise to stay at UCLA and has decided to stick it out with Jim Mora Jr. Anderson is in contention for the Arkansas State job and there is a good chance he will get it. I’m also told that he has mounting concerns about this being a one-and-done if there isn’t a dramatic turnaround next year. That leaves Beck, who is making $700,000. I’m guessing Plan B is already being activated.


A friend in the coaching search business said that the Texas A list began with Nick Saban and included Jim Harbaugh (San Francisco 49ers), Jimbo Fisher (Florida State), Gus Malzahn (Auburn) and Les Miles (LSU). Of that group, the only one that I think is gettable is Les Miles. I’m told that he has stated on more than one occasion that there are only two jobs that could make him leave LSU: Dallas Cowboys and Texas. It’s interesting that Texas is open and after the Cowboys collapse against Green Bay Sunday, that job could also open up. The B list will start with Todd Graham (Arizona State) and Dabo Swinney (Clemson). I will speculate that Miles and Graham will emerge as the only two serious candidates for the job.


Tony Romo is probably the best quarterback in the NFL for quarters one through three. The fourth quarter? Saying he’s snakebit might be a kind way of putting it. He threw two critical fourth quarter interceptions Sunday, which sealed a miracle comeback by the Green Bay Packers, who took a 37-36 win after falling behind 26-3 at the half, the latest of his well-documented fourth quarter collapses. Romo reminds me of a starting pitcher who is good for six or seven innings but is a serious liability every inning after. Maybe the Cowboys should warm up a relief QB for the fourth quarter.



Steely Dan came out with the “Aja” album in 1977. It was seven incredibly well-written, well-engineered songs and it won the Grammy for Best Engineered Recording. Five of the seven songs got regular airplay, the most famous being “Deacon Blues.” The lead track is “Black Cow,” a song I always related to because of that line “drink your big black cow and get out of here.” At my grandmother’s house, black cow was a dietary staple. A black cow is a tall tumbler filled with equal parts root beer and vanilla ice cream. Just thinking about it makes me fight the addiction.

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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.


  1. Best wishes to Tyler Murphy and congratulations on earning your degree at UF!…..30 for 30 is a great program on ESPN, but 30 for 3 at UF is not fun to watch. We all know that every program has transfers, but at the rate of transfers at UF, it sends a red flag . The development of players looks poor……. I’m thinking that the Mack Brown farewell tour won’t be the only farewell tour. Hogtown may be looking at one next year…..Of the several former UF players that I know, none are happy with the program right now…..I hope I’m wrong about the direction of our football program and look forward to eating a fresh batch of crow next year. If seasoned properly, crow ain’t too bad. :)

  2. The player development question is a fair one to ask and 30 in 3 years is a lot…. But quitting on Muschamp isn’t the answer. If the meatball fans would just stop for a second and digest what happened over the last 3 months and take a breath – maybe the would gain better perspective. I don’t think many top tier coaches in CFB could have coached this team to a winning record. I think the venom hurled at the program, from the media and fans is just as responsible for tearing this team apart as anything WM did or didn’t do. Murphy sitting on the side line listening to choruses if BOOs coming from the stands….no wonder he wants to leave. YES, losing to GSU was embarrassing, but at that point in the season does it really matter. And YES player development should be looked at, but I don’t think u will find a 3rd string QB or go 3 deep into the OL or MLB and have guys ready to jump in and play.