Thoughts of the day: March 6, 2014

A few thoughts to jump start your Thursday morning.


The answer is – unfortunately if you’re a Gator fan; happily so if you are Billy Donovan – yes. When the #1-ranked Gators hosed South Carolina Tuesday night in Columbia, Michael Frazier went off the charts with 11 3-pointers and Florida’s defense held the Gamecocks to only 46 points for the game and only five made shots in the second half. That’s the kind of effort that should be worthy of the big headline on the ESPN hoops page, but no such luck. ESPN ran the Associated press story. Wednesday night, when Duke lost to Wake Forest, that gets the big headline and photo for ESPN. Tuesday night ran the AP story and Wednesday night the big headline is Louisville’s win over SMU with a secondary photo/headline for Wake Forest-Duke. Sports Illustrated also ran the AP story but Wednesday ran a huge photo and headline of the Wake Forest win over Duke. Florida is the best team in the country, but the major sports media seems to think that a Duke team that has lost six games this season or a Kentucky team that lost eight are more worthy. This is not lost on Billy Donovan. He will use this as fuel for the fire that is burning in this Florida team to keep them motivated to keep chasing greatness.


With 17 SEC wins and 28 regular season wins already in the bag, Florida is a lock to secure one of the four #1 seeds for the NCAA Tournament. With a win over Kentucky Saturday and perhaps one win at the SEC Tournament, the Gators can probably lock up the #1 seed. Florida will certainly start the NCAA Tournament in Orlando and barring donkeys taking up flying, will land in the South Regional in Memphis. The Gators figure to be joined in the tournament by Kentucky (12-5 SEC) and Arkansas (10-7 SEC). The fourth team will likely be the winner of Saturday’s Missouri (9-8 SEC) at Tennessee (10-7 SEC) game. Tennessee would get in for sure with a win but a Missouri loss would leave the Tigers at 9-9 and probably needing a couple of wins in the SEC Tournament. For LSU (8-8) to get in, the Tigers will have to win their game tonight at Vanderbilt and Saturday’s game with Georgia, plus pick up two wins in the SEC Tournament.


ESPN’s SEC blog Wednesday broke down the offensive snaps per game for every team in the league the last two years. Three things stand out: (1) Florida ran about the same number of plays when the Gators were winning 12 games as they did when they won four in 2013; (b) Auburn went from dead last (60.5 plays in 2012) to fifth (73.8) in 2013; and (c) Alabama and Arkansas were dead last in plays per game in 2013 which tells you why Nick Saban and Bret Bielema don’t like the faster paced game.


1. Ole Miss: 79.8

2. Missouri: 75.5

3. Georgia: 74.6

4. Mississippi State: 74.2

5. Auburn: 73.8

6. Texas A&M: 73.8

7. South Carolina: 72.5

8. Vanderbilt: 70.8

9. Florida: 68.9

10. LSU: 67.7

11. Tennessee: 67.7

12. Kentucky: 66.8

13. Alabama: 65.9

14. Arkansas: 64.7


1. Texas A&M: 83.5

2. Ole Miss: 76.2

3. Missouri: 75.7

4. Tennessee: 75.1

5. LSU: 70.8

6. Arkansas: 70.5

7. Vanderbilt: 69.2

8. South Carolina: 69

9. Georgia: 67.8

10. Florida: 67.2

11. Kentucky: 67

12. Mississippi State: 66.8

13. Alabama: 66.3

14. Auburn: 60.5


In the three previous years, Duke went from a 3-9 team in 2011 to 6-7 (with a bowl game in 2012) to 10-4 (played ACC championship game, went to a bowl) in 2013. Florida’s new coordinator, Kurt Roper, was calling the plays for the Duke offense so here are the pertinent numbers:

2013: 72.5 plays per game; 2,492 rushing yards (4.58 per attempt); 3,474 passing yards (7.4 per attempt); 5,966 yards total offense (5.87 per play/426.1 yards per game); 54 offensive touchdowns (28 rushing; 26 passing)

2012: 76.1 plays per game; 1,628 rushing yards (3.71 per attempt); 3,691 passing yards (6.7 per attempt); 5,319 yards total offense (5.37 per play/409.2 yards per game); 45 offensive touchdowns (18 rushing, 27 passing)

2011: 71.5 plays per game; 1,129 rushing yards (3.09 per attempt); 3,266 passing yards (6.6 per attempt); 4,395 yards total offense (5.12 per play/366.3 yards per game); 34 offensive touchdowns (19 rushing, 15 passing) 


Scheduled for a March 6 vote, ESPN is reporting that the rules committee has tabled the controversial “Saban Rule” that would prevent snapping the football until 10 seconds off the play clock had elapsed. This is a very good move for college football and it’s one more hit to the image of both Nick Saban and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, both of whom had argued to deaf ears that their only concern was for player safety. Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter, whose team averaged 83.7 plays per game last year, told ESPN, “If there was any kind of documented evidence that showed there were more injuries, it would make sense. But I think there are certain coaches that don’t like the style of football up-tempo teams play. They want to change the rules instead of adjusting to up-tempo football.”


When not trying to inject safety as his reason for promoting the 10-second rule, Saban argued, “Is this the way we want the game to look?” I would argue that the way the game looks has been under constant change from the days when players wore leather helmets and everyone ran the single wing. Back in the early 1950s when the facemask was introduced, then Detroit Lions quarterback Bobby Layne refused to wear one and wouldn’t wear one until the day he retired in 1962. Bobby Layne claimed this was bad because it wasn’t how real men played the game. Back in 1990, Steve Spurrier introduced the Fun n’ Gun offense to the SEC and it not only changed the way the league looked but ushered in a radical change for offenses across the college football landscape. The game has and always will change. For now it’s all about the fast pace and no huddle. At some point the defenses will adjust, we’ll have a new trend and someone else will be asking the question, “Is this the way we want the game to look?”


The last time I saw Dean Smith was just before Florida’s win over Ohio State in Atlanta at the 2007 NCAA Championship Game. I had heard from a couple of good friends that his memory was starting to go, so I was prepared when he didn’t recognize me immediately even though we began a friendship back in 1970 when I was writing for the Wilmington Star-News. I re-introduced myself and he seemed embarrassed that he hadn’t remembered, but grabbed my hand and elbow and squeezed them tightly while asking about my family and how I was doing. I try to remember that moment as well as many other times in days when a conversation with Dean Smith always made me laugh about something and think hard about the way I saw the world. I’ve rarely encountered someone less consumed with his own greatness yet so concerned with the plight of others less fortunate. The lights in Dean’s brain rarely flicker these days. This link is to a beautifully written story about Dean Smith and the dementia that has taken him from us.


The Kinks were part of the British Invasion in the mid-1960s, hitting the ground running in the US with the songs “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night.” They built up a nice following with interesting songs with cool lyrics such as “Sunny Afternoon” which lamented the high taxes in England and “Dedicated Follower of Fashion.” In 1970 they came out with the album “Lola vs. The Powerman and Money Underground, Part One” which featured the song “Lola,” probably as controversial a song as there was at that time. By today’s standards it’s quite normal, but Lola was a real shocker at the time. This is “Lola” complete with the lyrics.


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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. Franz… We are all blessed to have a writer on Gator Country that has the longivity that says that he knew Dean Smith on a personal basis.
    So often, we has fans look upon our rival players and coaches as, “the enemy.”
    In reality, these are just your typical, average normal people who are also out there, living their own lives and trying to truly upgade the lives of the players under their wing.
    Thank you for giving us an inside prespective of Dean Smith.

    PS: Anything coming down the pike regarding, “The Who” ?