Franz Beard’s Basketball Confidential

You won’t hear Billy Donovan talking about rankings or tournaments or anything beyond Wednesday night’s home game with LSU, but the Florida Gators have set themselves up to make the NCAA Tournament for the tenth straight year. The Gators had only five 20-win seasons and five NCAA bids in school history before Billy Donovan came along and now the Gators are one win away from their tenth straight 20-win season. With a win against LSU, Billy will tie Tubby Smith for the most consecutive 20-win seasons at one school in the SEC. Tubby holds the all-time record of 12 straight 20-win seasons — two at Georgia and ten at Kentucky.

The Gators are 19-5 overall and 6-3 in the SEC with four of their remaining seven SEC games at the O’Connell Center. The first two — LSU and South Carolina — are very winnable games. The last two — Mississippi State and Tennessee — figure to be all-out wars but again, you have to figure the Gators can win both of them since they are at home.

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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.