Thoughts of the day: October 21, 2013


As Jeremy Foley made it clear following Florida’s 36-17 loss to Missouri on Saturday, Will Muschamp isn’t going anywhere. Barring an unforeseen scandal – and Muschamp is clean as a whistle — Muschamp will be back to coach the Gators in 2014. There are three reasons why: (1) He went 11-2 last year, winning several games in which the Gators were underdogs; (2) The rash of injuries have had a devastating effect; and (3) Foley truly believes that Muschamp has it in him to be a great coach. Foley has a well-deserved reputation for making sound business decisions and picking the right coach at the right time. As long as Foley is in his corner, Muschamp’s job is safe.


Although you can count on Muschamp being the Florida coach in 2014, 2015 is another story altogether. Foley won’t tell Muschamp he has to win X number of games to keep his job – to the best of my knowledge he’s never done that with any coach in any sport – but he will definitely let him know that there has to be progress and that might include suggesting there should be changes on the coaching staff. Foley expects championships in every Florida athletic program, but especially in football. The Gators have won seven SEC and three national championships under his watch but none since 2008. The longer the Gators go without being in the championship hunt, the more difficult it will be to get back in it, particularly with every school in the SEC upgrading facilities and spending big bucks to upgrade their coaching staffs. Foley won’t have to remind Muschamp twice.


We are down to nine unbeaten teams in college football: #1 Alabama (7-0) and #5 Missouri (7-0) from the Southeastern Conference; #4 Ohio State (7-0) from the Big Ten; #3 Florida State (7-0) and #7 Miami (6-0) from the Atlantic Coast Conference; #8 Baylor (6-0) and #19 Texas Tech (7-0) from the Big 12; #17 Fresno State (6-0) from the Mountain West and #18 Northern Illinois (7-0) from the Mid-American Conference. That number is guaranteed to drop by at least three. Alabama and Missouri can meet in the SEC title game, at least one of those teams will go down with a loss. Florida State and Miami play November 2, so at least one more team will take a hit; and Baylor and Texas Tech square off on November 16, so no more than one team can emerge unbeaten from the Big 12. At most, six teams will finish unbeaten and only four will have a shot at the national championship. Even if Fresno and Northern Illinois go unbeaten they won’t be in the national championship picture.


The folks in Vegas have their money on Alabama and Oregon running the table and playing for the national championship, but the path to a title isn’t easy for either one. Alabama has matchups with 11th-ranked Auburn and 13th-ranked LSU remaining on the schedule. Oregon has remaining games with #6 Stanford, #12 UCLA and #25 Oregon State. Should Bama and Oregon go undefeated, it is almost certain that they would play for the national championship, but the lure of an unbeaten Ohio State with a 25-game winning streak would make it a very difficult decision, particularly since it would pit Nick Saban against Urban Meyer. Meanwhile, Florida State is ranked #2 in the first BCS poll with Oregon #3 and Ohio State #4.


The last time Florida State was this good, the Seminoles went bell-to-bell as the #1 team in the country and beat Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl to win the national championship. That was 1999. Although the Seminoles made it back to the national championship game in 2000, they were beaten by Oklahoma. This is the best FSU team since then and the Seminoles could very well be the best team in the entire country, but if there is a shift in the current BCS standings — Oregon could move up if it wins three games against ranked teams, one of which is Stanford — they could drop to third and could miss the national championship game. There is a chance that either FSU, Ohio State or Oregon could end up like Auburn in 2004: unbeaten and capable of beating anyone but unable to prove it on the field.


Florida and Georgia aren’t the only SEC teams that have taken a serious hit due to injuries. Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri, considered the team’s emotional leader and an impact leader on a defense that has only given up 16 points in the last five games, is feared to be lost for the seaon. Sunseri injured his knee in Bama’s 52-0 thrashing of Arkansas Saturday. He had an MRI on his knee Sunday but results won’t be announced until Monday … The good news at South Carolina is that quarterback Connor Shaw won’t need knee surgery. The bad news is that he won’t be able to play Saturday when the Gamecocks visit Missouri.


Don James died today at age 81. He’s a former Miami quarterback and Florida State assistant coach who went on to become the head coach at Kent State where he coached a couple of guys who went on to become decent head coaches – Nick Saban and Gary Pinkel. You weren’t supposed to win at Kent State but James posted winning records in the last three of his four years there then went to Washington where he won national coach of the year three times, won three Rose Bowls and the 1990 national championship. Among the players he coached were Jack Lambert at Kent State and Warren Moon at Washington. I always thought he was one of the real gentlemen in college football. It’s a sad day that he’s gone.


Most people remember Coach Pete for classic lines such as “thanks for indicting me into the Hall of Fame” and “pair off in groups of threes then line up in a circle” but he was a terrific coach who took Florida State from the dark ages into the modern world of college football. He was also a rather decent evaluator of future coaching talent. At one point or another during his FSU coaching career his assistants included Don James (national championship at Washington in 1990), Bobby Bowden (national championships at FSU in 1993, 1999), Earle Bruce (Ohio State coach, Urban Meyer’s mentor), Bill Parcells (Super Bowl champs, New York Giants 1986, 1990), Joe Gibbs (Super Bowl champs, Washington Redskins 1982, 1987, 1991), Bobby Ross (national championship at Georgia Tech 1990) and future NFL head coaches Dan Henning, Ken Meyer and Kay Stephenson. Pete was my friend. Thinking about Don James today reminded me what a fun guy and great friend he was.


Old rockers never die. Well, some of them do. The ones that survive get old, get bored and call up some of their old buddies to form a new band and sing all the old songs. That’s what The New Rascals are all about. Dino Danelli and Gene Cornish, two of the original Rascals, joined up with Bill Pascali (formerly of the Vanilla Fudge) and Charlie Souza (formerly of Mudcrutch) hooked up about six years ago and they’ve kept reminding us just how good we had it with music during the 1960s. This is The New Rascals performing old Rascals classics “It’s a Beautiful Morning” and “Groovin’” which was one of the songs that defined my senior year at Gainesville High in 1969.

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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. Next time, I hope Foley hires a guy who has experience as a head coach. UF is a tough spot for a first-time head coach with the all the details, demands and expectations that go with it.

    The Gator offense is absurdly awful. The line can’t run block or pass protect, there is no creativity in play-calling or formations. If I see the wildcat formation one more time I will puke. It never works! Meanwhile the rash of injuries makes a fan wonder about UF’s strength training program.