Thoughts of the day: November 23, 2013


Okay, it’s Georgia Southern, and I know as well as you that this is a game Florida simply cannot afford to lose. Losing to this Division 1AA team won’t cost Will Muschamp his job. This year. Next year? Well, it could do that because what happens if the Gators lose and the ripple effect is that several stud commitments could change their minds and go somewhere else? This is a critical recruiting class for Muschamp and the Gators and anything that would disrupt this class could seriously affect next year’s depth chart. For a team whose depth chart was turned upside down because of injuries in 2013, the last thing needed is to go into 2014 with holes in the two-deep.


Georgia Southern has a smaller defensive front that is giving up 163 rushing yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry to D1AA foes. Even if Georgia Southern loads up the box to stop the run, the Gators should be able to move the ball consistently on the ground with Kelvin Taylor and Mack Brown taking turns as the battering ram. Although they don’t want to give Florida State anything new on film to dissect in the week leading up to next Saturday’s game, it would be a good idea to give Skyler Mornhinweg at least a few shots downfield in the passing game. The last thing he needs is to go against that FSU defense without having read coverages or making those 14-17 yard throws that you have to have against a first rate defense. Let’s see what Skyler can do with a deep slant to Solomon Patton or maybe a nice midrange crossing pattern to Trey Burton I like the Gators to win this one something like 21-10.


The only thing Billy Donovan would say Thursday night about the possibility that senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin’s time in basketball purgatory will soon be over is that “he (Wilbekin) still has stuff he has to do so I’m not going to comment on any of those things right now.” The Gators face Jacksonville University Monday night at the Veterans Memorial Arena, which will be their sixth regular season game but the seventh game if you count the exhibition game against Florida Southern. All indications have been that Wilbekin is serving a six-game suspension, and if true, then the only question is regarding the exhibition game. If that counts as one of the games, then expect Wilbekin back. If not, then expect him next Friday against Florida State.


There were no charges against Florida State redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston Friday but things could change rather quickly. The attorney for the alleged victim said in a statement issued Friday, “To be clear, the victim did not consent. This was a rape.” On Wednesday, it was confirmed that Winston’s DNA matched the DNA found on the alleged victim’s underwear, which caused Winston’s attorney to say that the leaked evidence “damaged” his client’s reputation. That caused the alleged victim’s attorney to state, “Why would a consensual encounter damage his client’s reputation? However, a rape would certainly damage his client’s reputation.” Rape is a very powerful word and the injection of rape into the conversation will only make it more difficult for state attorney Willie Meggs to avoid charging Winston with a sexual crime.


If charged, FSU will be required to suspend Winston until either the charges are dropped or an innocent verdict is rendered at a trial. Florida State and Jimbo Fisher have to stand by their man at least until he’s charged. If Winston is charged, FSU’s chances to win the national championship will be all but torpedoed. With Clint Trickett transferred to West Virginia and Jacob Coker done for the year with knee surgery for a torn ACL, the Seminoles’ only other option is Sean Maguire, a freshman who has thrown seven passes this year, not exactly the quarterback you would want to take into battle against Alabama. For Winston, just the escalating rhetoric of a possible crime could be all that is necessary to sink his chances of winning the Heisman Trophy. The last thing the Heisman would want is to give Winston the trophy in early December only to have him charged and have to stand trial for raping a woman. You can figure voters will cast their ballots accordingly. Meggs has to live in Tallahassee and charging Winston all but ends FSU’s national title hopes. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure the dilemma he faces. Plus, failure to prosecute or delaying charges until after football season could end his political ambitions.


If Winston were charged and suspended and FSU still won its final game against Florida plus the ACC Championship Game with Maguire, would the computers and Harris Poll that decides the BCS take into account his value to the team? Without him, it’s hard to imagine FSU having a chance against Alabama. If the computers and the voters take that into account, they could leapfrog either Baylor or Ohio State – assuming they both finish unbeaten – past FSU for the sake of a better national championship matchup.  One would have to assume that a full strength Baylor or Ohio State would be a better matchup for Alabama than FSU without Winston.


Baylor’s hopes of running the table and getting a shot at the national championship game hinge on beating tenth-ranked Oklahoma State (9-1) in Stillwater tonight. Since neither #2 Florida State or #3 Ohio State play a team with a pulse (Buckeyes face 4-6 Indiana; FSU faces 1-9 Idaho), the unbeaten and fourth-ranked Bears can make a leap forward in the BCS standings with a win over a ranked team. If it’s an impressive win, it could put the Bears within striking distance of FSU. If past performance is an indicator, then this should be Baylor’s game. Okie State lost to West Virginia, 30-21, the same WVU team that Baylor destroyed, 73-42, one week later.


Besides liking Florida over Statesboro Blues, I like Mississippi Cow College over Bill and Hilary Clinton State U, Carolina Chicken Ranch over Coastal Carolina, Bama over the Chattanooga Choo Choo, Rainy Night in Georgia over My Old Kentucky Home, Texas Cow College over Huey Long State, University of the Deep South over Misery and Gloria Vanderbilt over Dollywood USA.

Last Week: 5-0

Season: 85-12



It is said that the Funk Brothers played on more #1 hits than The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Elvis and the Rolling Stones combined. They were the band behind all the great Motown acts starting in 1959. I really discovered what a great band they were when I started listening to Joan Osborne, one of the great blues singers of the past 20 years. They appeared together at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2004 where they performed the old Marvin Gaye classic “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” Until I heard this version, I thought Marvin was the only one who could really sing that song the right way.

Previous articleAny way you cut it, it’s a ‘must’ win
Next articleRock bottom: Gators fall to Georgia Southern
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.