Thoughts of the day: January 14, 2014

A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning.


Talking about newly hired offensive coordinator Kurt Roper Monday, Florida coach Will Muschamp was quick to praise the work Roper has done with quarterbacks such as Eli Manning, Andre Woodson, Thaddeus Lewis and Sean Renfree. Quarterback development has to be job #1 for Roper and not just for Jeff Driskel but for all the quarterbacks under his tutelage. If there was one thing blatantly obvious when Jeff Driskel went down with a broken leg and then when Tyler Murphy got hurt with three games to go that beyond the talent gap there was also a development gap. Driskel has never made it an entire season without losing games to injury so the development of freshman Will Grier and incumbent backup Skyler Mornhinweg is a priority.


I’ve always contended that you can run nearly any kind of an offense if the guy you have pulling the trigger can execute the position, but beyond quarterback development, Roper has to spend the offseason and spring evaluating the talent at hand and then scheme around them. From what I saw of his Duke offense and the Ole Miss offense that he called plays for back when Eli was the quarterback, Roper is more than competent in adapting the scheme to the talent. I have to think that Roper is going to do a much better job getting the ball in the hands of Valdez Showers and Ahmad Fullwood. I think both Showers and Fullwood were underutilized last year and both have star potential. I will also be interested to see which of Florida’s tight ends can actually catch the football. Either they were poorly coached or Brent Pease forgot how to use them in the offense.


ESPN’s Ryan McGee rated the top 10 jobs in college football as follows: (1) Texas, (2) Southern Cal, (3) Alabama, (4) Ohio State, (5) Florida State, (6) Oklahoma, (7) Notre Dame, (8) Michigan, (9) Georgia and (10) LSU. It is hard to argue with the top three. Texas and Southern Cal get there because they have such enormous resources and Alabama is there because right now Alabama wins football games at a more prolific rate than anyone else. As for the other seven, I guess you can make arguments for six of them. I can’t see LSU as the #10 job — top five at least — and I have to wonder where is Florida? Even though the Gators had an off year, this is still one of the six or seven best jobs in all of college football. Georgia? Top Ten? Call me when they actually win something in Athens.


In no way do I believe Alex Rodriguez when he claims he is an innocent victim of a sinister plot by Bud Selig to disgrace him and run him out of baseball. There is an abundance of evidence that documents how A-Rod became a serial doper in his quest to become the first player in Major League Baseball history to hit 800 home runs.  Now, this is not to say that Bud Selig is some paragon of virtue, either, because he’s anything but that. In addition to being a rotten commissioner he organized and authorized his team of investigators to get to the bottom of Rodriguez’s involvement with Biogenesis and Tony Bosch by any means necessary. On “60 Minutes” Sunday night, chief investigator Rob Manfred admitted paying $125,000 for stolen documents that would link A-Rod to Biogenesis and Bosch. When asked point blank if he crossed ethical lines, Manfred almost laughed while admitting it.


 I believe that Alex Rodriguez did everything he could to obstruct the investigation into his connection with Biogenesis. I believe he doped. I believe he should be suspended. But I also believe that Major League Baseball comes out of this with as big a black eye as A-Rod. This is what troubles me. If MLB is so intent to go after a player who has doped that it will stoop to the lowest of levels to convict him, then what happens if the investigators get it wrong and they run someone out of the league whose guilt might only be by association. MLB can say that wouldn’t happen until the cows come home, but if there is one thing I’ve discovered in my years on this planet it is abusing the rules opens the door for further abuse. Is A-Rod guilty as charged? I believe there is no question about it. Should baseball be ashamed of the way it went about gathering the evidence to run him out of the game? There is no question about that, either.


Rodriguez has promised a lawsuit against Major League Baseball in Federal Court. I’m not sure how that would go. Certainly, his rights to due process have been violated, but he willingly violated his contract when he used illegal performance enhancing drugs. Do the two wrongs cancel each other out or does one outweigh the other? I don’t have the answers to that, but I am of the opinion that if this does go to court, Major League Baseball is not going to win because A-Rod and his attorneys will subpoena every former or current player ever accused of doping and turn this into a sideshow that will taint the game for years to come. If Bud Selig has a brain – I question that – and Rodriguez can stop lying for a couple of hours – I have my doubts about that, too – then they should figure out some sort of compromise. Neither party is without blame and both are guilty as sin of something.


 I remember two comments I heard when Ben Johnson got caught doping at the 1988 Seoul Olympics that I have since heard in regards to nearly every other sport, both college and pro – (1) The use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs so widespread that you’ve got to be an idiot to get caught and (2) As long as there are sports there will be someone in a chemistry lab trying to figure out a way to give the athletes that edge that is one step ahead of the dope detecting procedures.” I don’t think fines and suspensions work all that well. The only thing that happens is the athletes spend more money to find better chemists. I liken the people who dispense steroids to cockroaches. Turn on the lights and they head for the woodwork. Spray them with the newest and deadliest poison and you may get a few of them, but some of them still survive and breed more, the next generation more immune to the poisons than the last. Should players be allowed to juice up on steroids or HGH? It’s easy to say no way but they’re going to do it anyway. At least if you legalize it you can set a standard for which ones are legal and which ones aren’t. And since there is no way to tell which great players used steroids and other performance enhancers and which ones didn’t, should we forgive the ones that got caught?


I do understand that football is played in the north where it snows, but I have to admit that I’m almost rooting for a blizzard in New York on Super Bowl Sunday. I believe the only way the Super Bowl should ever be played up north is in a domed stadium. It is the championship game of professional football. I do not want to see a player lose three toes to frostbite. I do not want to see idiot fans going shirtless in freezing weather. I don’t want to see shirtless fans in warm weather either for all that matters. I do not want to see a game in which a potentially winning or game-tying field goal can’t be kicked because there is a foot of snow on the ground. So back to my original thought, I hope there is a blizzard this year that will convince the powers that be in the NFL to NEVER again award the Super Bowl to a northern city that doesn’t have a dome.


I only had to hear “This Old Heart of Mine” one time and I couldn’t get the song out of my mind. I was already a fan. The Isleys were the first to release “Twist and Shout” and it’s still the best version ever of the song. But “This Old Heart of Mine” was an incredible crossover song. It was a big hit on the rock and roll and the soul charts in 1966 and it’s been remade a dozen times, most notably by Rod Stewart, but his version can’t begin to touch The Isleys.

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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. I never understood why Selig escapes so much deserved criticism. Of all the major team sports, it seems baseball is always the one that gets it wrong. The game has deteriorated over the last 30 years and ole’ Bud seemed to just speed that process up a bit. Terrible commissioner. When it comes to steroids and PEDs, I’ve always blamed the league more than the players. If you had others in your profession, who’s performance at their job started to sky rocket….making huge bonuses, winning awards and getting big pay raises, because they take a pill each day before they go to work – would you not consider? There could be possible health side affects, the bosses kind of frown upon it, but for 10+ years they basically ignore it. You see friends of yours in the industry losing their job because they can’t keep up. I would be less than honest if I said I wouldn’t at least consider it. Then when the league did something and ran with the independent investigation back in 04, they assured the players that names would be confidential, while they gathered information. The players went along….but then the names leaked out! It’s the leadership in MLB that caused this mess, not the players. And Selig is the biggest reason why. Did I mention he is a terrible Commissioner?