Thoughts of the day: December 2, 2013

A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning:


In the first move of promised “fixes” to the Florida football program, Will Muschamp fired offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis Sunday morning, a decision that has seemed inevitable for several weeks now. This is a move that Muschamp had to make. While Pease and Davis aren’t the only problems the Gators had on offense, retaining them would have given the perception that Muschamp is content to try to win games with defense and absolute minimum contributions from the offense, which is something Muschamp cannot afford. Florida finished the year averaging 316.7 yards per game, which ranks 112th nationally, and 18.8 points, which ranks 111th. Someone had to take the fall, and Pease and Davis were the most likely candidates.


The reality is that neither Pease nor Davis was a good hire to begin with. Brent Pease is a nice guy, no question about it, but his history as an offensive coordinator is spotty at best. He had one decent year calling plays at Kentucky in 2002, got fired after three years at Baylor, then spent five years coaching wide receivers before he got a chance to call plays again at Boise State. The Boise offense was great that year, but it’s not like the Broncos ran the Pease system. That offense was in place since 1998 (brought to Boise by Dirk Koetter) and featured a mostly senior cast including quarterback Kellen Moore, who had already thrown for 99 touchdowns before Pease took over as the offensive coordinator. At Florida, Pease’s offensive numbers rivaled those at Baylor, a job from which he was canned after three unspectacular seasons.


In his 25 games as Florida’s offensive line coach, the Gators gave up 66 sacks, not the worst numbers in the Southeastern Conference but unacceptable for a team with such a conservative offensive approach. Give up a sack and the lost yardage almost inevitably meant a punt. If you add the numbers from Davis’ two previous coaching gigs before Florida, the numbers are even less impressive. Add the Florida numbers with two years at Minnesota and one at Utah it it comes up 62 games, 155 sacks.


Muschamp needs to move quickly to replace Pease and Davis and every report out there indicates that new coaches will be in place within the next two weeks. Early speculation is that Western Kentucky offensive line coach Neil Callaway, a former University of Alabama lineman, could be the replacement for Davis. Callaway has head coaching experience (UAB) and is an experienced offensive coordinator (Houston, 1993-96; Alabama, 1997-2000; and Georgia, 2001-06). There is also speculation that the new coordinator could be Clay Helton, offensive coordinator at Southern Cal under Ed Orgeron and son of former Gator center Kim Helton. When Kim Helton was the head coach at the University of Houston, Callaway coached his offensive line and called the plays. Clay Helton was a backup quarterback on that UH team. There are conflicting reports about former Gators quarterback and Jacksonville University head coach Kerwin Bell. Some reports are that Bell will get no consideration for the coordinator job at Florida, while there were some other reports late Sunday that Bell is interested and will be considered for the job.


To keep its string of consecutive national championships alive, the Southeastern Conference is going to have to have some help. Either Florida State (unlikely) or Ohio State (more likely) is going to have to lose Saturday because it’s virtually impossible that the SEC champion – either Auburn or Missouri, both with one loss – will be able to jump an unbeaten team. Florida State has been established as a 29-point favorite over Duke in the ACC Championship Game while Ohio State is favored by only five over Michigan State. Should Auburn win and either FSU or Ohio State lose, Auburn would easily move into the championship game, but if Missouri were to win, it would have to jump over Alabama and that might be difficult. Of course, FSU and Ohio State only have to win and the SEC streak is over at seven.


It’s not Urban Meyer’s fault that Ohio State’s schedule is ranked 61st nationally. That schedule was in place long before Meyer became the head coach of the Buckeyes. All he can do is play the schedule that he’s given and he’s done that quite well. He had 24 consecutive wins and if he beats Michigan State will have the most consecutive wins by a coach at a new school in the modern era of football. Currently, he’s tied with Larry Coker, who won his first 24 at Miami. Getting win #25 won’t come easy for the Buckeyes, however. Although the Buckeyes rank #2 nationally in rushing offense at 321 yards per game, Michigan State is #1 in rushing defense (64.8 yards allowed) and total defense (237.7 yards).


Had Southern Cal knocked off UCLA Saturday night, it might have been impossible for Pat Haden to say no to Coach O, who went 5-2 as the interim coach and will take the Trojans to a bowl game. The loss to UCLA, however, has eliminated Coach O as a permanent possibility. Reports out of Los Angeles Sunday say that Boise State coach Chris Peterson and Vanderbilt coach James Franklin have emerged as the two leading candidates. Of the two, Franklin may emerge as the most viable candidate. Peterson, after all, has turned down USC, UCLA, Arizona State and California in recent years.  As for Ed Orgeron, you can almost bet that he will surface as a head coach somewhere.


Speculation in Texas is that Mack Brown will retire rather than face the indignity of a firing, but whether he leaves on his own accord or not, most close followers of the Texas program expect a change at the top. First call will most certainly go to Alabama coach Nick Saban, who says he’s content at Alabama, but we’ve heard that from Nick before. Should he actually mean what he says this time, the two names that are burning up the wire are Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher and Arizona State coach Todd Graham. Graham is a Texas native who began his coaching career at Poteet High School in Mesquite. In two years at Arizona State, he’s 18-7 and has the Sun Devils playing in the Pac-12 Championship Game. It must be noted that he was hired at Arizona State by Steve Patterson, who was recently named the new AD at Texas. It’s hard to believe that Fisher would take any job next season considering FSU loses only eight players on its two-deep roster.


“Ramblin, Gamblin Man” was the lead track on the debut album of The Bob Seger System in 1969. It featured backup vocals by Glenn Frey, who later was one of the founders (along with Gainesville’s Bernie Leadon) of a fairly successful little band called The Eagles. Seger palyed the Detroit bar scene for several years before starting The Bob Seger System which evolved into The Silver Bullet Band.

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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.