Thoughts of the day: November 18, 2013


It would be foolish for the Florida Gators to look beyond this Saturday’s game with Georgia Southern because second-ranked Florida State looms on the horizon two weeks from now. First and foremost, it is important for Will Muschamp and the Gators to stop the bleeding of a five-game losing streak. Getting a win of any kind – even if it’s against a Division IAA opponent – is a must because Florida State comes to town in two weeks. The last thing this team needs is to face an FSU team that has its sights set on a national championship game on the heels of a confidence-busting loss, and losing to Georgia Southern would indeed be a confidence-buster. So, first things first and that means taking care of business with Georgia Southern. Even though this is a game the Gators are expected to win, restoring the pride of winning will do wonders for the locker room and the practice field the following week.


Even though he’s gotten assurance from Jeremy Foley and Bernie Machen that he will return as Florida’s head coach, the pressure on Will Muschamp is off the charts right now. Probably the worst thing that could happen this week would be for the Gators to perceive a sense of desperation from their coach. Muschamp must find a way to demand focus and intensity while at the same time alleviating the pressure. Maybe he should take a page from Coach O, who made restoring fun one of his priorities when he took over as interim coach at Southern Cal when Lane Kiffin was fired. There are few people on the planet as intense as Coach O, but that injection of fun must have worked. The Trojans are 6-1 since he took over.


Do you ever wonder what would happen if someone not only grabbed a handful of dreadlocks protruding from the bottom of a football helmet but yanked hard as well? That happened Sunday afternoon when Jason Babin of the Jacksonville Jaguars got a fistful of dreads when he brought down Andre Ellington of the Arizona Cardinals. When Babin got off the ground, he held a handful of Ellington’s dreads high like a trophy then nonchalantly flipped them to the ground. Someone was kind enough to gather up the dreads, put them in a plastic bag and hand them to Ellington after the game.


Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State remain 1-2-3 in the BCS standings and while everyone expects an Alabama-Florida State or Alabama-Ohio State national championship game, no one should lose sight of Baylor. The Bears are unbeaten, leading the country in both scoring and total offense and they’ve got the toughest stretch of games remaining. FSU can’t help itself with Idaho and Florida remaining and Ohio State isn’t going to get much bounce until the Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State. Baylor, meanwhile, gets #9 Oklahoma State this week, a bad TCU team the next week and then closes the season with Texas in what could be a winner take all Big 12 championship game. Three impressive wins could do wonders for Baylor’s championship aspirations particularly if FSU struggles with Florida and Ohio State has trouble finishing off Michigan in the regular season finale or Michigan State in the conference title game.


Baylor’s numbers are staggering. The Bears have gone over the 70-point mark four times and 60 twice while averaging 61.2 points a game. They average 8.52 yards per play and 684.8 yards of total offense. Baylor averaged 384.4 yards per game passing and an unimaginable 12.49 yards per attempt while averaging 300.4 yards per game rushing for 6.06 yards per attempt.


Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston did nothing to hurt his Heisman Trophy chances by hitting 19-21 of his passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns in the Seminoles’ 59-3 win over Syracuse. For the season he has thrown for 2,938 yards and 28 touchdowns against seven interceptions for the second-ranked Seminoles. Texas A&M had a bye week so Johnny Manziel didn’t play, but his numbers for the year are 3,313 passing yards for 31 touchdowns with 11 picks and 611 rushing yards for eight more touchdowns. He has a chance to vault into an insurmountable lead if he can beat both LSU and Missouri in the final two games. A.J. McCarron’s rest on great games against Auburn in the Iron Bowl and whoever faces Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. For the year he has thrown for 2,228 yards and 21 touchdowns against five picks. He has two national championship rings and could get an unprecedented third this year. The darkhorse is Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, who has throw for 2,992 yards and 24 touchdowns with only one interception and has run for an additional 10. He has three games remaining to make a case for the top spot.


The vote is supposed to go to the best player in the country and not the one who has the best statistics. From my standpoint, the best two players are Manziel and McCarron because they play the toughest schedules week in and week out. I think Winston is impressive, particularly since he’s a freshman, but I don’t think he has been particularly challenged given the weak opposition he’s faced. Petty could make a statement in these last three games, but I would still go with Manziel and McCarron as my 1-2 picks.


Long before we got the nightly barrage of basketball from the power conferences all the way to the conferences we didn’t even know existed and long before Dick Vitale exchanged coaching for a seat behind the mike, there was Joe Dean. A teammate of Bob Petit, he was twice named All-SEC at LSU and scored more than 1,000 points in his career. He worked for Converse when it was THE shoe company and did clinics all over the country, but when he went behind the mike as a color analyst everybody got to know him because of his colorful phrases such as “string music” and “that was a stufferino!” Dean was the athletic director at LSU from 1987-2000, a time in which LSU won five NCAA baseball championships and 22 NCAA outdoor track and field titles including 11 in a row by the women’s team. Always the perfect gentleman who never was too busy to answer someone’s questions, Joe Dean will be missed.



In 1972, Todd Rundgren and Small Faces were booked for a Sunday afternoon concert at the Savannah Civic Center starting at 4 p.m. At 4 p.m., Rundgren and the band came out to the very loud cheers of approximately 15 people. That’s all that showed. I wouldn’t have blamed him if he had walked off the stage and refused to play, but instead those of us who were there got the full concert and it was terrific. The best song was “I Saw the Light” which I saw on a re-run of the TV program “Live from Daryl’s House.”

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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.