Thoughts of the day: February 3, 2014

A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning.


Bob Dylan wrote those words to his song “The Mighty Quinn” in 1967, a song that was turned into a hit by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. Well, fast forward to 2014 and the Denver Broncos haven’t seen anything like the Mighty Quinn. Dan Quinn, that is. Did anyone see this coming? Denver set NFL scoring records this year but the Broncos were totally disabled by Quinn’s Seattle defense. It’s astonishing to think that Seattle held the Broncos to eight points, a performance reminiscent of the Chicago Bears in 1985. That was an aggressive, well prepared defense that had the right defense for everything the Broncos threw at them. When he was here at Florida, everybody assumed that Quinn was the figurehead defensive coordinator and that Will Muschamp made all the calls. This isn’t a knock on Muschamp, but I think we can put that notion to bed. From what we saw in the Super Bowl, it makes you understand that it wasn’t by accident that Florida’s 2012 defense dominated and made those incredible halftime adjustments.


Percy Harvin had hip surgery before the 2013 season began so his impact on the Seahawks’ regular season was minimal. We saw Sunday night what happens when Percy is healthy – two carries for 45 yards, one catch for another five and an 87-yard kickoff return to start the second half that sealed Denver’s fate. I was reminded of 2008 when Percy suffered a high ankle sprain against Florida State. The Gators were able to get past Alabama in the SEC Championship Game without Percy but his impact on the national championship game a month later is undeniable. His 52-yard run in the fourth quarter after Oklahoma tied the game at 14-14 flipped the momentum back in Florida’s favor and the Gators went on to win the national title. He had nine carries for 121 yards and a touchdown and five catches for 49 more. The more I think about his three years at Florida the more I think he was under-utilized. Imagine next year with a healthy Percy and a healthy Sidney Rice in Seattle.


That would have to be Tom O’Brien, who forced Russell Wilson out at North Carolina State three years ago. O’Brien had Mike Glennon waiting in the wings. Glennon had a bigger arm and prototypical NFL size, so he forced Wilson out. Wilson went to Wisconsin, got a Rose Bowl win in his only year there, and in two years has quarterbacked the Seahawks to the NFC championship game and then to the Super Bowl championship. He is 25 years old and he will only get better. Wilson is listed at 5-11 and that might be a stretch, which makes you question all those folks who seem to think that a quarterback has to be 6-4 or taller and weigh at least 230 pounds to be a winning quarterback in the NFL. I’m reminded of my days covering the Washington Redskins. Sonny Jurgenson had a bit of a beer belly. Asked about his waistline one day after a game, Jurgenson responded, “I don’t throw with my stomach.” When Russell Wilson throws the ball, it’s accurate and on time. You don’t have to be 6-4 to do that.


Pete Carroll’s coaching influences include Lou Holtz (he was a grad assistant at Arkansas in 1977), Earle Bruce (he worked under Bruce at Iowa State in 197 and Ohio State in 19179) and Monte Kiffin (he was Kiffin’s defensive coordinator at North Carolina State from 1980-82. There is also a Gator connection. Carroll was the defensive backs coach with the Buffalo Bills in 1984. The head coach was Kay Stephenson, who was Steve Spurrier’s backup quarterback at Florida in 1965-66.


The Seinfeld Reunion commercial is my number one with the Audi Dober-huahua commercial a close second. It was a bit different seeing Seinfeld with short, gray hair but the interaction between Jerry and George made me wish they would stage a comeback. The Dober-huahua was totally original. I give third to the Kia K900 commercial. All three were innovative and fun. Honorable mention goes to the Chevrolet Silverado commercial with the bull being towed to the pasture where all the cows awaited. Great punch line, “Hellooooo ladies!” The Maserati commercial was hands down the worst and the most bland was Radio Shack. Kudos to Budweiser for the homecoming commercial that was shot in Winter Park. They’re right. Every soldier deserves a hero’s welcome home.


The Southeastern Conference might have had its seven-year stranglehold on the national championship broken by Florida State, but the SEC will dominate National Signing Day Wednesday. Based on an average of the top networks, the SEC will have seven of the top ten spots and 13 of the 14 SEC teams will finish in the top 40. Here is the average top ten: (1) Alabama; (2) Texas A&M; (3) Ohio State; (4) Tennessee; (5) FSU; (6) LSU; (7) Notre Dame; (8) Florida; (9) Auburn; and (10) Georgia. The rest of the SEC in the top 40: (15) Ole Miss; (17) Kentucky; (27) South Carolina; (33) Arkansas; (34) Missouri; and (38) Mississippi State.


With Arizona’s loss to California Saturday night, the stage is set for Billy Donovan and the Gators to move up to #2 in the nation when the rankings come out today. With home games against Missouri (Tuesday) and Alabama (Saturday), the stay  near the top should longer than it did last year. The Gators reached #2 on February 4, 2013 but they went on the road to Arkansas the next day and lost, 80-69. The Gators dropped to #6 and made it back to #4 two weeks later before finishing the season ranked #9 after a third straight trip to the Elite Eight game in the NCAA Tournament.  Since the 2007 national championship game, the Gators are 28-18 in the month of February.


The actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman was found dead of a drug overdose Sunday. According to the New York Post he was found with a needle in his arm. Hoffman won the Academy Award in 2005 for the lead role in “Capote” but I will always remember him best for his role as Brandt in “The Big Lebowski.” The dude still abides. Rest in peace Phillip Seymour Hoffman.


In light of the defensive performance by Dan Quinn and the Seattle Seahawks, the music for today has to be “The Mighty Quinn.” The song was written by Bob Dylan in 1967 but became a hit in 1968 for Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. I found this video of Manfred Mann from last year. Manfred will be 74 this year but he’s still touring and performing.

Previous article“Not a .500 team” Whitson says
Next articleThomas has top two
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,

    As always, I love reading your posts. I was proud of Dan Quinn and Percy Harvin last night. It was awesome to see Florida’s old defense on display last night. I told my coworkers that what Seattle was doing to Denver was a doppleganger performance of how the Gators D performed against opponents when Dan Quinn was here. I was also saying that Will Muschamp was probably watching and salivating about how much he’d like the Gators to look like the Seattle Seahawks in August – suffocating defense and and offense led by smart, elusive QB who can find his receivers and an O-Line that will allow the QB time to find those receivers. Harvin reminded me of the good ole’ days when we had a RB who could instill a bit of fear in defenses. I know K. Taylor is nowhere near a Percy Harvin as far as speed, but i’d love to see him develop into a running back that gets respect in the SEC. I’m excited about next season and I’m cautiously confident that Roper’s offense will make these last couple of years’ offense seem like a bad nightmare.