Thoughts of the day: October 4, 2013

The next step in his progression

Now that Tyler Murphy has shown he can come in from the cold to pick up where a wounded warrior went down and start a game on the road in the SEC, the next logical step in his progression as Florida’s quarterback is to put together a game-winning performance against a team that should be a step up in competition. If Arkansas holds to form, the Razorbacks will try to get its pressure from its front four while dropping seven into coverage. The last two weeks Murphy has seen both Tennessee and Kentucky bring the house but he’s read nearly every blitz perfectly. Of course, Florida’s offensive line can have a rather big say in helping Murphy pass his next test. If they can handle the front four as well as gash out some holes so that running backs Matt Jones and Mack Brown can get to the next level, Arkansas is going to have to change strategy on the fly, something that should bode well for the Gators, who are established as 9.5-point favorites.


The Gators have never lost to Arkansas since the Razorbacks joined the Southeastern Conference back in 1992. Florida is 8-0 including wins in the 1995 and 2006 SEC championship games. Arkansas does have one win in history over the Gators, a 28-24 win in the now defunct Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston back in 1982. The last time the two teams met was 2009 when the Gators struggled to a 23-20 win in Gainesville.


The only thing saving Mack Brown from having to step down as the Texas coach Friday morning was a blown call by Big 12 zebras with the ball inside the Iowa State five Thursday night. Texas fumbled on two consecutive plays. The first one Iowa State clearly had the ball. Texas was awarded possession on the second although the replay wasn’t all that clear. The folks in the replay booth upheld the call on the field both times, but the first was definitely a mistake. Two plays later Texas finally got the ball in for a touchdown then kicked the game-winning extra point with 51 seconds remaining for a 31-30 win. The win will allow Mack to keep his job for another week, but there are buzzards circling in Austin. This is dead man walking and next week he’s got to play Oklahoma.


Click the link and listen to Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads’ tirade against the zebras. He was right to call them out because they screwed up and it cost his kids a win they earned on the field. I’m sure the Big 12 office will make a statement Sunday or Monday saying the officiating and replay crews were wrong and that they are suspended for a week. That’s what usually happens in situations like this but it doesn’t do a thing for the kids who had a win snatched from them by incompetence. I still remember the Swindle in the Swamp back in 2003 when an ACC crew headed by Jack Childress blew six calls that cost Florida a win over Florida State. Games like this make me believe that more coaches should call out the bad officials no matter the sport. With all the replays and technology that is available, games should not be decided by incompetence and there is no reason why bad officials shouldn’t have to answer for their screw ups.


The theater of the absurd really went bizarro Thursday in Tampa when the Bucs released quarterback Josh Freeman after a week in which head coach Greg Schiano has shown his lowlife colors by leaking personal information about Freeman to the media. The Bucs say they tried to trade Freeman to every other team in the league but there were no takers. Of course there weren’t any takers. Most NFL head coaches/general managers/owners – I say most because there folks like Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones are allowed in public without a chaperone – actually have functioning brains, so why give up something of value for Freeman and have to pay his $6.2 million salary? Now that the Bucs have released Freeman, they owe him the $6.2 million guaranteed in his contract. Freeman can sign with any team in the league for peanuts, play the rest of the season and then either re-sign with that team or test the free agent market.


In Alabama, Tuscaloosa is called Title Town. Given what has been revealed in the last three weeks should we perhaps call Tuscaloosa “Teflon Town” instead? It was less than a month ago that it was revealed that former Alabama All-American offensive tackle D.J. Fluker was on the take from agents all of last season. That was immediately dismissed as if it was no big deal. Now, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has been arrested along with an assistant strength coach because of a payment made to Dix that originated with an agent. Of course, this is also being dismissed as not all that big of a deal. Nothing sticks to Teflon but with these last two allegations, you have to wonder just how many Bama players are on the take.


The story that they’re selling in Tuscaloosa – I’m not sure who outside the state of Alabama is buying it – is that assistant strength coach Corey Harris loaned Clinton-Dix a little less than $500 the day after Clinton-Dix’s 2012 Dodge Charger was broken into and a number of items including an iPad were stolen. Clinton-Dix has allegedly shown Bama compliance a withdrawal from his bank for an amount of money he says he paid back to Harris. That might be believable except that Harris was found to have connections to an agent. All this is a violation of NCAA rules, but will Bama get hit with sanctions? They should if you go by the precedent set at Florida. In 1989 Galen Hall was fired for allegedly paying a child support payment for Jarvis Williams in an incident that dated all the way back to 1986. As the story goes, the money was paid back the next day but that didn’t stop the NCAA from giving Florida a 1990 bowl ban and for the SEC to deny the Gators the conference championship even though there wasn’t a single player on the UF team that was even around back in 1986.


Bet the ranch that Clinton-Dix is suspended for the month of October and miraculously is reinstated the week leading up to the November 5 showdown in Tuscaloosa between Alabama and LSU. Bama’s next four games: Georgia State, (one year removed from Division IAA), Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee before an open date prior to the LSU game. There isn’t a loss in the whole bunch.


Before Stevie Nicks came along to transform Fleetwood Mac from a nice blues  band that people liked into a real megagroup, there was Peter Green, a former member of John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers making great music that only the real blues aficionado listened to. It was Peter Green’s band, by the way. He named the band after drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie. Well, you know what happened after Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham joined the band. Tonight, though, I want to share you “Albatross,” with this haunting melody that makes it one of the coolest blues instrumentals I’ve ever heard. Ironically, when I first heard this song, we were studying Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” in Jane Fowler’s senior English class at Gainesville High. That was back 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.