Thoughts of the day: November 14, 2013

A few thoughts to jumpstart your Thursday morning:


It should come as no surprise that Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and UF president Bernie Machen both made statements of support for embattled football coach Will Muschamp on the Gatorzone website. Foley has been saying for weeks that Muschamp’s job is safe, at least through next year, but this was the strongest statement yet in support of Florida’s third-year football coach.

As athletic director, I’m a thousand percent convinced that Will Muschamp is the guy to lead this football program. Nothing has changed in what we feel about Will Muschamp from the day we hired him. Everyone around here wants the same thing. We want to do what is right for the University of Florida.” – Jeremy Foley

We have a history of being successful. We have a history of fixing things when they need to be fixed, and that is what is going to happen here. And Coach Muschamp is the one that will fix it.” – Foley

I want the Gator Nation to know that I have full confidence in Coach Muschamp and his leadership of the football program. ” – Bernie Machen


Because the fan base is so split on this matter, I’m sure there are many people who do not agree with Foley and Machen, but logic tells you it is the right thing to do even if there hadn’t been such a devastating string of injuries this season. I’ve always maintained that it’s not a completely fair to evaluate a coach until he’s been able to bring in four recruiting classes. By that time you should be able to see a two-deep roster that has no holes, each spot filled by an athlete whose skill level translates to success. Muschamp has three classes under his belt and he’s on the verge of landing a fourth that is loaded with difference makers on both sides of the ball. By this time next year, there will be no room for any excuses. Either Muschamp will have the Florida program on a course for championship level success or it will be time to think about change.


A vote of confidence doesn’t necessarily mean all is hunky dory in the Florida football program. There are changes that have to be made and I’m sure nobody is more aware of that than Will Muschamp. There is that old saying that if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be what you’ve always been. That statement can be applied both positively and negatively, but both trains of thought should have a place for Muschamp moving forward. From a positive point of view, Muschamp is a focused, self-evaluator who knows how to adjust and he’s proven that at every stop of his coaching career. That shouldn’t change. From the negative, he can’t expect to win in the SEC with a robotic, pedestrian offense that leaves such little room for error. The hope here is that Muschamp will self-evaluate and then reinvent himself. He can do that without fundamentally changing who he is.


The greatest college football coach who ever lived reinvented himself on at least four different occasions, each time emerging as a better coach and with more success. When Bear Bryant took the Kentucky job, he was able to lure future Hall of Fame quarterbacks George Blanda and Babe Parilli to Lexington, so he changed and went to a pro-style offense that was as wide open as it got for that era. When he moved to Texas A&M, Bryant changed again. This time it was to a win with defense and a power running game philosophy. He maintained that philosophy through the first few years at Alabama and even won the 1961 national championship with the very conservative philosophy. He changed again to a pro-style offense and that had everything to do with having quarterbacks named Joe Namath, Steve Sloan and Kenny Stabler and he won two more national titles. In the 1970s when there was an abundance of running backs, Bear went to the wishbone, which allowed him to put three studs on the field at the same time with an option quarterback. That got three more national titles.


With each reinvention, Bear changed the schemes but he never changed who he really was as a football coach. Although he was ahead of the curve on national trends, he remained as old school as it gets. He never forgot that no matter the scheme, the game is still all about blocking and tackling. The teams that block better and tackle better win better and Bear’s teams won at every stop because they blocked and tackled. No matter the era of football that will never change. What also never changed with Bear was his ability to fit the scheme to the personnel on hand. In other words, he didn’t believe you fit square pegs into round holes. When he had quarterbacks, he threw. When the game went one platoon as it did at A&M and the first years at Bama, he went conservative. When he got quarterbacks again, he threw it and then when there were tons of running backs, he went wishbone. Bryant proved that changing schemes and adapting to your personnel doesn’t have to change your fundamental philosophy of football.


Reports have surfaced that Florida State’s stud redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston is part of an ongoing investigation into a sexual assault complaint that was filed in Tallahassee last year. No charges have been filed and Winston has yet to be interviewed by the TPD, but the case is in the hands of the state attorney and apparently it’s ongoing. Apparently Winston has been aware of the allegations and has been cooperating with authorities through his lawyer, but it’s not the kind of distraction that a team trying to make it to the national championship game needs, nor can this kind of report help Winston’s Heisman chances.


Baylor has rewarded head coach Art Briles with a new 10-year deal that will pay him in excess of $4 million per season. Baylor is ranked fifth nationally and leads the country in total offense and scoring. Briles has built Baylor from the Big 12’s doormat into a team poised to become a consistent national powerhouse. Next year, the Bears will move into a brand new state of the art stadium that should seriously enhance Briles’ recruiting efforts. The new deal should also torpedo any speculation that Briles will be snatched up by Texas if Mack Brown is canned.


On paper, it’s the perfect year to start the college football playoff. There are four undefeated teams and every good reason to believe all four will run the regular season table. But according to the BCS, which is still in charge, if the playoff began today, unbeaten Baylor would be left out while once-beaten Stanford battled it out with unbeaten Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State. How could Baylor, which leads the country in scoring and total offense be left out? We might be asking ourselves this question in four weeks because only two teams are going to be selected to play in the title game and four could still finish unbeaten. Whether it’s the current two-team system or next year’s four-team playoff, it’s not going to eliminate the controversy but I would still rather deal with the controversy from a four or eight game playoff than I would the current system.


I started listening to Huey Lewis and the News during the early 1980s when the band was really at its peak. I always liked the way the band could go from rhythm and blues to doo wop to rock all in the same set seamlessly. A few years ago Huey got the band back together and started touring again. They will be in Florida for three dates in December  — Dec. 6 Clearwater; Dec. 7 Fort Lauderdale and Dec. 8 Jacksonville. I’m catching him at the Florida Theater on December 8. If you’ve never caught Huey live, then I’d highly recommend that you get tickets for one of these performances if you live in those areas.

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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. No one has a problem with giving Coach Muschamp another year. What Gator Nation has a problem with is another year of the same old stuff. We all know what they say about insanity. It is time to change the philosophy on offense starting now. If Murphy is hurt, put in a QB that can throw the ball. If there is no back up that can throw the ball, recruit people who can play Division 1 football in the SEC. It is a very simple analysis.

    Patience is a virtue, but inertia destroys programs.