Thoughts of the day: February 26, 2014

A few thoughts to jump start your Wednesday morning.


Isn’t it refreshing that in this era of the one-year rent-a-player that Billy Donovan is winning championships with seniors? The Gators won the 2011 SEC championship with a team that featured three seniors – Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus and Vern Macklin. They won the SEC last year with three more seniors – Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy and Mike Rosario. Tuesday night, the Gators clinched a share of their third SEC title in four year with four senior starters – Patric Young, Scottie Wilbekin, Casey Prather and Will Yeguete. There is something to be said about staying in school, learning how to do it the right way, learning lessons from your elders as you work your way up the ranks and then, when it’s your opportunity, putting all that experience to work while taking the time to pass down those lessons to the kids just starting to get the hang of what Billy Donovan and Florida basketball are all about. Nobody should be shocked that the Gators have won 20 in a row and are ranked #1. And, nobody should be shocked in April if the Gators survive March Madness to hoist the crystal ball above their heads in Dallas. If the Gators do go all the way – and I wouldn’t bet against them – it will be a testament to building a program from the ground up rather than trying to start at the top and overwhelming everybody with superior talent.


As we saw with Brad Beal, Billy Donovan isn’t going to say no to a one-and-done but it has to be a player who is the right fit or else he’ll pass. Billy knew that Brad was never going to be here more than two years and most likely just one when he out-recruited the likes of Kansas, Kentucky, Duke and a host of other bluebloods. Beal was that special player who was a team first guy with very little in the way of an ego and that’s the kind of one-and-done that will be the exception rather than the Florida rule. Donovan sees things differently than some coaches. Over the years I’ve seen him pass on talented players who, for one reason or another, didn’t fit into his idea of what a team is all about. He’s looking for players who understand that this is a program and a system built on upward mobility. You come to Florida, park your ego at the door, learn to do things the right way and get to the top the old fashioned way – you earn it. Florida has won three of the last four SEC championships and has made the Elite Eight game three straight years. The Gators could win it all this year. That’s because the system works.


Here are two questions that will have to be answered during the 15 days in March and April that the Gators are allowed to practice: (1) Daniel McMillian came to Florida with plenty of hype but his only two tackles came on special teams during kickoff coverage. The Gators have only eight scholarship linebackers so all eight will have to be productive this year. Will a bit of freshman humble pie turn McMillian into the hungry player who feels a sense of urgency to make plays as a sophomore? (2) On those occasions when he’s been given a chance to show what he can do with the ball in his hands, Hunter Joyer has been very productive (23 carries, 101 yards, 2 touchdowns rushing; 6 catches, 29 yards, 1 touchdown receiving). Can he catch Kurt Roper’s eye in the spring and become something other than a battering ram blocker as a senior?


When Bo Wallace is good, he’s very, very good. When he’s bad, he stinks up the stadium. If he’s the Bo Wallace who threw for 349 yards against LSU or the one who threw for 329 yards and five touchdowns against the Aggies, then Ole Miss will be very good this year. If he’s the Bo Wallace who threw three picks and fumbled the ball away in the loss to Mississippi State, then Ole Miss is in trouble. Which Bo Wallace will show up this year? … This is a contract year for Georgia tailback Todd Gurley. The NFL scouts already know that he’s the best combination of speed and power in the college game, but will Gurley spend his junior year pulling a Jadeveon Clowney and avoiding as much contact as possible or will he become the brute who pulverized SEC defenses for 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns as a freshman?


Gators: Trey Burton (6-2, 224, 4.62 40); Dominique Easley (6-2, 288, 26 reps of 225 on the bench); Jon Halapio (6-3, 323, 5.34 40); Jonnotthan Harrison (6-3, 304, 5.15 40, 27 reps of 225 on the bench); Ronald Powell (6-3, 237, 4.65 40); Loucheiz Purifoy (5-11, 190, 4.61 40); Marcus Roberson (6-0, 191, 4.61 40). Former Gators: A.C. Leonard (6-2, 252, 4.50 40); Matt Patchan (6-6, 302, 4.97 40); Seminoles of note: James Wilder (6-3, 232, 4.86 40); Tim Jernigan (6-2, 299, 5.06 40); Kelvin Benjamin (6-5, 240, 4.61 40).


Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports is reporting that the NCAA is considering a proposal to limit full contact practices in the week leading up to games. In an effort to reduce the number of injuries in the game, it is being discussed to limit full contact practices to one or two days during the week. At Florida, every coach since Steve Spurrier has only held two contact practices each week with the heavy contact on Tuesdays. I can’t see that scaling back the full contact one day would make that much of a difference with the way Florida has been doing things for years.


A few years back at the Silver Sixties (players of the Ray Graves Era) weekend in Tarpon Springs, Steve Spurrier was asked why there are more injuries in today’s game than ever before. Spurrier didn’t hesitate and his answer makes perfect sense. “Players are bigger, stronger and faster than they’ve ever been,” Spurrier stated. “The field is the same size it’s always been.” He’s right. A player who is 20-30 pounds heavier than those 25-30 years ago covers the same amount of ground in fewer steps at a faster pace. The collisions are more powerful and something has to give, usually bones, tendons and ligaments.


When it comes to video boards at the stadium, that’s a fact. Texas A&M will unveil the largest video board in all of college football in September at Kyle Field, which is being renovated. Half the renovation will be finished by August with the other half of the renovation finished by August of 2015. That will raise capacity to at least 102,000. As for the video board, it will measure 47 feet high and 163 feet wide. It will be the first video board in all of college football to have 1080 resolution.


When I look back on the music of the late 1960s, I do wish The Box Tops had continued making music. They disbanded in 1970 after getting fleeced one too many times by lawyers, promoters and managers although the Box Tops name lived on because a management company actually owned the name. They reunited in 2000 and continued to perform until lead singer Alex Chilton died of a heart attack in 2010. This is “The Letter” which went #1 worldwide in 1967.

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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. Franz…
    Great selection on the music today.
    “The Letter” is a very distinctive song because it uses the I IV V Chord Progression as all Blues songs do… but this is not a Blues tune.
    If one listens to the verse lines, the first line is on the I Chord, the second line, “…Aint got time to catch a fast train” is done on the IV Chord… while “….lonely days are gone, Ima going home…” is on the V Chord. Then it returns to the I Chord with, “… my baby wrote me a letter.”
    And then, the chorus, “Well she wrote me a letter…” starts out on the V Chord.

    Sorry for getting technical here… but one just does not find many songs written back in the early 70’s that are structured like this. No wonder this song hit #1. Not so much for its lyrics… but because of the way the song was structured and its harmonies.

    Oh yea… Go Gators!