Thoughts of the day: December 22, 2013

A few thoughts to jump start your Sunday morning:

I woke Saturday morning, the fifth week anniversary of the Georgia Southern loss, contemplating whether to simply call that dark day in Gator history “The Unthinkable” from here on out. Calling it “The Unthinkable” won’t ever change what should have never happened under any circumstance, but it does make it easier to get around probing questions. Someone mentions the Georgia Southern game, I simply reply, “Oh, The Unthinkable” and suddenly my conscience is clear. I walk away without saying another word, leaving someone to contemplate just what I meant when I said “The Unthinkable.” Some people will get it. Some won’t. It’s their problem. It’s no longer mine. If someone mentions the Georgia Southern game and starts asking poignant questions about the Florida football program and I say something other than “The Unthinkable” I know myself all too well. I’ll rehash that entire game, which will start me rehashing the entire 2013 season and next thing you know I’m not my usual charming and occasionally witty self.

I was at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, watching the Gators do an Attila the Hun – lots of pillaging and plundering – on the Fresno State Bulldogs in the Orange Bowl Classic when it was reported that new Southern Cal coach Steve Sarkisian says he has retained Clay Helton as the Trojans’ offensive coordinator for next season.  Now there are reports that Helton hasn’t 100% decided to stay, but he’s making $850,000, which is a cool quarter million more than UF paid the departed Brent Pease. Something tells me he’s not taking a pay cut to move 3,000 miles east.

Now I wasn’t 100% sold on Helton as the answer for the Florida offensive woes two weeks ago, but I had warmed up to him when other warm bodied members of an A list that too many people who know more about this coaching search business – at Florida and elsewhere – than I ever will began dropping like flies. Mike Norvell, who had a knock them dead interview at Arkansas State, wasn’t offered the job and was enticed to remain at Arizona State. Funny what a $200,000 raise and some fancy schmancy title will do for a prime time candidate to be Florida’s offensive coordinator. Noel Mazzone didn’t get an additional 200 large to stay at UCLA, but he got 150 big ones and elected to stay put. Last Sunday, Blake Anderson seemed to have one foot in the Florida door and then he was invited to interview at Arkansas State. He thought he bombed the interview. Apparently interview bombs are en vogue. He got the job, pulled his foot out of the Florida door and left me feeling the need to warm up quickly to Clay Helton.

Well, there is Tim Beck, the Nebraska offensive coordinator. He’s making something like $750,000 and nobody in Nebraska seems to like him. I’m not sure what to make of that. They didn’t like Frank Solich either. He went 58-19 in six years as head coach (1998-2003) at Nebraska and they ran him out of town. If they ran a winning head coach out of town who averaged nearly 10 wins a season, would they also run an offensive coordinator who seems to be a master of the two-inch pass out of town, also? Okay, Beck does like to run the football – a lot – which probably makes Will Muschamp do a mind drool, but when I think of Tim Beck I ask  would hiring him be like putting lipstick on the same pig that was just run out of Gainesville?

Okay, so I don’t want Beck and he’s the only one of the aforementioned A list who hasn’t gotten a big raise or a head coaching job somewhere else. When it comes to Florida football and the offensive coordinator search, he’s still standing.

I would prefer that he sits down. But, maybe he doesn’t. I hold my breath in anticipation.

And this brings me back to my original premise of “The Unthinkable.” I’m willing to come up with a new catchphrase to navigate my way out of going in-depth about the Georgia Southern game if Muschamp and Florida will really do “The Unthinkable” when it comes to an offensive coordinator.

This version of “The Unthinkable” is a two-headed monster. This version of “The Unthinkable” involves “The Mouth That Roared” and Florida’s version of “The Hick from French Lick.” As far as offensive coordinators go, I’d be happy with either of these two “Unthinkables.”

“The Mouth that Roared” is Lane Kiffin. I have it on very good authority that he wants the job. I have it on equally good authority that Will Muschamp would be very happy if Lane Kiffin were coaching up Jeff Driskel next year and calling the plays for the Florida Gators. I also have it on good authority that there are higher ups who don’t want anything to do with him.

I know all the stuff he said about Urban Meyer, but let’s face it, in the minds of a lot of Gators, Urban is about as popular these days as a running sore on the private parts. If you’re part of the anti-Urban crowd, then wouldn’t you at least consider embracing the original anti-Urban? While you’re busy debating that, let me throw these numbers at you. In 2005 when he was calling plays at Southern Cal, the Trojans AVERAGED 579 yards and 49.1 points, had a 3,000-yard All-American passer in Matt Leinart, two 1,000-yard rushers in Reggie Bush and LenDale White and a 1,000-yard receiver in Dwayne Jarrett. When those guys left, he turned John David Booty into a 3,000-yard passer and had two 1,000-yard receivers.

Maybe Lane blew it as a head coach. Maybe he ran his mouth too much. Maybe he’s been humbled. There are no maybes when it comes to calling plays and coaching up quarterbacks. He does that quite well.

Okay, our version of “The Hick from French Lick” is Kerwin Bell, our man from Mayo, the cultural capital of Lafayette County where dairy cows and pigs outnumber people something like 15-1. For some reason, there are folks who think that if Kerwin Bell was such a good offensive mind, then why the hell is he coaching at Jacksonville University? Well, for one thing, Kerwin has always marched to a different drummer. He turned down Auburn a couple of years ago because he was comfortable in his own skin, doing what he’s doing now, which is  taking a bunch of kids nobody else wants and turning them into an offensive machine that averaged 522.7 yards and scored 57 offensive touchdowns in 11 games with a bunch of freshmen and sophomores.

Kerwin can coach. Really coach. He has a very creative offensive mind, has put together one outstanding offense after another at JU and would indeed leave his comfort zone at JU for Florida. As Bear Bryant said about Alabama, “Mama called.” With Kerwin, Florida is mama. Call and he’s here to help.

If he can coach a bunch of nobodies that nobody wants, then think what he might do with the somebodies that every decent team on the planet wanted that signed with Florida.

Maybe Lane Kiffin and “The Throwin’ Mayoan” don’t fit your profile of who should be Will Muschamp’s offensive coordinator, but let’s make two things abundantly clear: apparently some folks have used the Florida coaching search to get some dandy raises and there are rumors that some have done their best Nancy Reagan impression and just said no. Translation: Florida doesn’t have an offensive coordinator.

With that in mind, maybe it is time to do “The Unthinkable.” It’s not like Will Muschamp has forever to make a decision. The clock is ticking and if it strikes midnight and he doesn’t have someone in place, then that carriage for Dalvin Cook and some other studs who want to be Gators just might turn into a pumpkin.

I woke Saturday with one idea about “The Unthinkable.” I’m going to bed with a totally different idea about what is unthinkable and what is not.



Okay, time to get into the Christmas spirit. Straight No Chaser is a fantastic a capella group that puts on a fantastic show. Catch them if you can when they come to a venue near you. This group got started in 1996 at Indiana University. In 1996 their You Tube video of “The Christmas Can-Can” went viral almost overnight and led them to a five-album contract with Atlantic Records. So, here is “The Christmas Can-Can” for you.


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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. How about the unthinkable? Play “Statesboro Blues” every day until UF gets a new head coach. Did you actually think people would be lined up to put their future in Jeff Driskel’s hands? Hiring Kiffin would be newsworthy, but I don’t think it would be the kind Gainesville needs. Becoming a laughingstock is certainly “unthinkable.”

  2. I say go with Kerwin, he’s a Gator and has a good offensive concept, and he can coach! What else are we looking for? Nobody has ever been successful at a “big time” school until they got a chance to do it, right?