Random Thoughts From A Saturday Couch Potato

No Florida football game on a Saturday, no problem. A little weird, I have to admit, since every Saturday I’m either at The Swamp or on the road somewhere to write about the Gators, but I found myself glued to the TV, cheering for Boston College, Mississippi State, Alabama and UCLA in the afternoon. In the evening I found myself cheering C.J. Spiller even if I really don’t like Clemson.

It could have been a glorious football day. Mississippi State missed out on a chance to upset the Poodles. Alabama had its chances to leave Dollywood USA with a win but gave out of gas in the fourth quarter. Someone on the UCLA bench obviously said something to rile a sleeping saint into action given the ending of that game.

But there were salvageable moments. Like Boston College making the all-black day in the cultural capital of the panhandle a true day of mourning and watching C.J. do what only C.J. can do. Even if he isn’t a Gator, I take solace in the fact that his shake and bake lightning will be haunting the Semis for the next three years.

So here are some random thoughts about my Saturday as a couch potato.

BOSTON COLLEGE 24, SOW 19: The School Out West took the money from Nike and went all-black. Some might think that’s a hideous departure from the garnet and gold, but I actually thought it was an improvement. They could have worn that all garnet outfit. You wanna talk about the uniform from hell? That’s it. The all-black, by comparison, was a step up and let’s face it, they do need the money. Spanky Hart has a nice fat check from Nike he can cash.

One of the first things I notice is how bad Shannon Boatman is. He’s starting at right tackle and he was one of the crown jewels of their recruiting class. Juco All-American so they say. Matador, I say. Whiff! Whiff! Whiff!

Then I watched Slowrenzo rack up nine (count’em) yards before he missed the fourth quarter with a thigh bruise. Speaking of thigh bruises, I’m thinking this is the fourth quarter of a survival game and Slowrenzo isn’t on his feet, helmet on, almost begging someone to get in the game? Does he have any heart at all? You could chain saw halfway through Buster Davis’ thigh (please, Buster, don’t wear corduroy during the dry season for fear of a spark that might start a forest fire), make a tourniquet out of barbed wire and put an IV bag in both arms and he would still be out there in the fourth quarter. Speaking of Buster, I am reminded that his junior year at Mainland in Daytona Beach, he was listed at 6-1. He was 6-0 when he was a senior. The Semis had him listed at 5-11 when he signed. Saturday, the ABC folks said he’s 5-9. Is this The Incredible Shrinking Linebacker?

It was 24-10 in the third quarter and the wheels start coming off for BC. At this point, I’m trying not to be too giddy. I was there at the Big Brick Outdoor Tractor Pull and Wrassling Emporium back in 1994 when it was 31-3 going into the fourth quarter. I could have gone the entire weekend without that thought.

The Semis close it to 24-17 and suddenly the announcers are trying to convince me that Jeffy actually knows what he’s doing. In between laughs, I am thinking if this is what it takes to keep him on the job, then I’m all for it.

BC takes a safety and it’s 24-19. Tom O’Brien’s conventional wisdom is that a free kick from the 20 is better than having a punt blocked in the end zone. I’m thinking six points beats you and wondering if Tom O’Brien was dropped on his head one or two times when he was a baby.

The last play is the staple of the Jeffy offense, the jump ball. That is the only deep route they have in the arsenal these days and everybody in the ball yard knows that Drew Weatherford is going to heave one high and long into the end zone and 6-6 Greg Carr is going to try to outjump everybody for the ball. The ball went up and Carr had about six BC guys around him. Carr said after the game he was sure he had both hands on the ball. The replay shows that the only thing Carr got two hands on was the helmet of BC defensive back Larry Anam.

Game over. BC wins. The Curse of the Zooker lives on! Lest we forget, they named it Bobby Bowden Field the night of Zooker’s Last Stand and things have never been the same since. The SOW is 4-3 with two home ACC losses. The Semis are sitting dead last in the ACC Atlantic Division at 2-3 in conference play. It turns out the black uniforms were the perfect choice since it is officially a day of mourning.

As a side note, late in the evening, one of the frequenters to a Semi message board said the SOW faithful better brace themselves when Florida comes to town because it’s going to be like a prison shower scene.

POODLES 27, MISSISSIPPI STATE 24: The Poodles did their best to be kind hosts to Mississippi State, turning the ball over five times, but it wasn’t enough. Somehow, Georgia wins the game without a running game and with a freshman quarterback that can’t read a zone spelled CAT if you spot him the C and the A.

What’s upsetting is that a loss by the Poodles is another step closer to Atlanta for the good guys, the Florida Gators, but on this day it just doesn’t happen. This is not a very good Georgia football team and that’s what makes them very dangerous next Saturday when we renew the Florida-Georgia rivalry in Jacksonville. Remember 1975? Remember 1985? Remember 1997?

The Poodles of 2006 can’t run. They don’t have great receivers. Their freshman QB has a tendency to lock onto the free safety of the other team. Their offensive line is porous. The secondary looks like it spends all its time trying to make big hits instead of actually covering somebody. It all adds up to dangerous. Very dangerous.

TENNESSEE 16, ALABAMA 13: What do a tornado and a divorce in Alabama/Tennessee have in common? Someone is sure to lose the double wide. I thought about that one every time the camera panned the crowd in Dollywood USA. I could have sworn I saw some folks with one eye in the middle of their foreheads.

I came away from this one convinced that Joe Kines really is a genius. Anyone that can keep Bama this close in tough games really does know his stuff. I also concluded that Mike Shula is so conservative that he would drive out of his way 46 miles to a 31-flavors ice cream shop and then order vanilla. This is not Mr. Excitement.

Bama’s D.J. Hall was uncoverable. Bama’s Kenneth Darby couldn’t find a hole. So, conventional wisdom is you cut Hall loose and make Darby into a blocker to pick up the blitz. So in the fourth quarter, the Red Elephants are ignoring D.J. and running Darby off tackle. Go figure.

All we needed was a Bama win and the Gators are a win over the Poodles away from a secure berth in the SEC Championship Game. Instead of the win we need, Bama takes a quantum leap forward in its quest to spend a week in Shreveport for the Weedwacker, presuming of course, Bama actually wins that prestigious bowl game. Lose and you have to spend another week in Shreveport. Maybe we can arrange Brock Berlin to be their tour guide.

NOTRE DAME 20, UCLA 17: All I can say is someone on the UCLA sideline must have said something or done something to wake up one of the saints because what Notre Dame did in the final 55 seconds of that game was purely divine intervention.

This is NOT a particularly good Notre Dame team but exciting come from behind wins like that will get the Irish into a BCS Bowl that they don’t deserve. Count on it.

Second big laugh of the day. Post game Charlie Weiss, the ND coach, is talking about what a defensive struggle it was and praising the UCLA defense. The last time anyone accused UCLA of playing great defense Bill Walton was playing center. Oops. Hoops doesn’t count.

CLIMPSON 31, GEORGIA TECH 7: If C.J. Spiller isn’t a Gator, then he’s at the next best place. He will be tormenting the SOW folks — and no Semis, you weren’t even close to landing him — for three more years and he might get a chance to rip off a few long runs against Miami, too. He’s doing his part to put the Fighting Sows in scenic downtown Boise on New Year’s Day. If he can’t be a Gator, then this is the next best thing.

Did you see those two long touchdown runs? Zip, zang and zowie and he’s gone. The kid is a scary good talent. I watched that first one and thought about could have been — a future UF lineup that has Tebow, Percy, Rainey, CI, Fayson and C.J. But, he’s at Climpson and Florida’s going to be just fine. Even though C.J. isn’t playing for the Gators, he’s doing his part to advance our cause and that is consolation.

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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.