Thoughts of the day: April 24, 2014

A few thoughts to jump start your Thursday morning.


Okay, so Jon Harrison talks about a dysfunctional Florida football team that had some problems in the locker room last season. Harrison told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Tyler Dunne that as the losses mounted in Florida’s disappointing 2013 season that the locker room was divided, everybody was pointing fingers at each other and that the talk of coaches getting fired definitely took its toll on the team. Team discipline was so bad that players were sneaking girls into their hotel rooms or sneaking out on their own the night before games.

It is not as big a deal as it might seem.

This was a Florida football team without a whole lot of margin for error. There wasn’t much in the way of quality depth so when the team’s two best players – quarterback Jeff Driskel and defensive tackle Dominique Easley – went down with season-ending injuries a difficult season was all but guaranteed. If those had been the only injuries, then the Gators might have been able to do better than 4-8, but this was a snakebit team that was a shell of itself by the time they limped home.

When Harrison talks about how the frustration of losing got to the team and had them at each other’s throats by season’s end, it’s a whole lot easier to understand 4-8. Losing alone will put a team on edge but when injuries compound the situation, it erodes confidence and makes a team feel as if the playing field is no longer level. At full strength, the Gators would have been able to compete with anyone on the schedule and there would have been an air of confidence. By the time the Gators took the field against Georgia Southern and Florida State, confidence was gone and players were looking for someone to blame.

It also takes its toll on coaches. That the coaches were on edge isn’t a bad sign. What you would worry about is if the players and the coaches were resigned to losing. Whenever losing becomes less painful or even acceptable, you see a laissez-faire attitude in locker rooms. Teams aren’t at each other’s throats because nobody really gives enough of a damn to get upset. Take Kentucky, for example. They’ve been losing so long and so often that you never hear about a divided locker room or players screaming that they’ve had it with all the losing and the negatives that go along with it.

What Harrison said is not a sign that Will Muschamp lost control of his team, either. Did Muschamp handle the situation as well as he could? Maybe not, but there may be a silver lining of the dark cloud that hung over the Florida football program last year because it caused Muschamp to totally re-evaluate everything top to bottom including his own offensive philosophy. By bringing in Kurt Roper and Mike Summers, Muschamp showed that he’s willing to change and that’s a very good thing.

If losing continues in 2014 and the Florida locker room is once again divided, then there is reason to worry because losing is like Novocaine. When there is no pain, losing is easy to accept, which, in turn, breeds a culture for mediocrity or worse. If you don’t believe it, then look at Tennessee, which is the poster child for a formerly great program that let the culture of losing take over.


Let’s start with the obvious. There is no Dominique Easley. There is no Sharrif Floyd. Darious Cummings could be very good and Leon Orr is athletic enough to put together a really good season, too. But can either one of them command a double team much less split it and get into the backfield? Behind them are Jay-Nard Boswick and Caleb Brantley, long on potential but very short on experience and in the case of Brantley, maturity. Then there are the three freshmen who will arrive in late June: Thomas Holley, Khairi Clark and Gerald Willis. There is playing time to be had if they come in with the right attitudes because those guys in front of them really haven’t done anything to make you think they’re the kind of tackles that you better have in the SEC to stuff running backs like T.J. Yeldon (Alabama), Terrence Magee (LSU), Jerron Seymour (Vanderbilt), Mike Davis (South Carolina) and Todd Gurley (Georgia). Trending: Treading water.


The Joe Paterno statue on the Penn State campus is a thing of the past, but two alumni have put up the $300,000 for a new statue of Paterno that will be installed in downtown State College. While Penn State officials have done their best to distance themselves from anything related to Paterno, fans haven’t forgotten nor are they going to forget any time soon. You just don’t wipe out 40-plus years of history overnight. So how does Penn State deal with the Paterno legacy? Does he deserve to be vilified as he was in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky trial? Or should he be treated with a bit more kindness? And, will time heal the wounds?


Now that they’ve got their mojo back and working again, the Gators are wasting anything that gets in the way. The Gators (41-8) made USF pay a dear price for the two-hour trip up I-75 from Tampa Wednesday night to the tune of a 17-1 5-inning run-rule game that was their 10th straight win. Kirsti Merritt continued her hot hitting with three hits including a home and five RBI. Hannah Rogers (21-6) gave up only two hits to get the win for Florida, which plays host to Missouri for a 3-game SEC series this weekend.


Alex Poythress and Dakari Johnson announced Wednesday that they will come back for one more year of college basketball at Kentucky, leaving only the Harrison twins to make a decision. Kentucky is going to be top heavy up front with three 7-footers (Johnson, Willie Cauley-Stein and incoming freshman Karl Towns Jr.) and four more in the 6-9 to 6-11 range (Poythress, Marcus Lee, Derek Willis and incoming freshman Trey Lyles). If Andrew and Aaron Harrison elect to return then Kentucky will have enough outside shooting next year to start the 2014-15 season ranked #1 but if they go to the NBA – some experts have them leaning that way – Kentucky will have only one legitimate outside shooter on the roster in incoming freshman Devin Booker.


The question for today comes from Ryan Bell, who asks, “Do you think the coaches that are advocating compensation [for players] really believe it or are just posturing for recruiting purposes?

I’m sure there are some coaches out there who really don’t believe in the concept of players getting any sort of extra benefits or compensation but take a public stance in favor of it because they don’t want the negative backlash on recruiting when this issue finally comes to a vote by the NCAA. I do believe the majority of coaches who have come out in favor of players getting some sort of extra money really think it’s fair. When Steve Spurrier first proposes this at the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin back in 2010, he offered to put up the money for his football players out of his own pocket. If you know Stevie Wonder, you know he can be pretty tight with a buck, so he wouldn’t make that kind of offer if he didn’t truly believe in it. Spurrier has often cited that during his playing days, scholarship athletes were given $15 a month for laundry and incidentals. In 1960s terms, this wasn’t a pile of cash but it was movie and burger money. That practice was discontinued in 1973 because the have nots of college football who said it was a financial burden on their athletic programs, ganged up and pushed a rule through to eliminate the stipend. The new term for this is cost of attendance, coined by SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, and that is a call for scholarship players to receive a monthly cash allowance beyond tuition, room and board to the tune of $2,000-3,000 a year. Stretched over 12 months, that’s $250 a month. For a school like Florida with approximately 240 scholarship athletes, that’s $720,000 a year, which isn’t going to break the bank.

Each day one question will be chosen as Question for Today. Submit your question to:


By the time Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown was “discovered” he had already been making a name for himself in every club and dive from Texas to Florida and in between. It wasn’t until he moved to Nashville and struck up a friendship with Roy Clark of the TV show “Hee Haw” that Gatemouth’s career took off. He was 80 years old when he put together his final album in 2004. Today’s song is “Deep Deep Water” off Gatemouth’s first album on the Peacock level from 1972.

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. I think you missed the whole point. The Gators weren’t a “team” and it started from the top. When the leader, the coach, throws the offense under the bus after the defense gets steamrolled by Georgia Southern, it’s not hard to understand where the division comes from. They learn it from their leader. It’s also easy to see why the Gators were horrible when you say Jeff Driskel is one of the team’s top two players. Easley was a great player, Driskel was a horrid one. It’s not a stretch to say that UF would have lost to Tennessee if Driskel had remained in the game. That game changed when UF had it’s horrible quarterback removed quicker than Tennessee’s horrible quarterback. How soon we forget how fans were rejoicing over Tyler Murphy because he did not make it a priority to hand the ball to the other team. Murphy had his limitations but did a good job. Starting with LSU, the Gators could not overcome losing the line of scrimmage and I doubt Driskel would have fared any better. If Driskel is UF’s top player this year, UF is in for another long year. Spring seemed to feature the same guy, staring down receivers and an inability to be accurate down field. We’ll see about poise and reading defenses when there are guys with other jerseys on with bad intentions. I just don’t think he’ll ever be any good and I cringe when someone says he’s one UF’s top two players. If that’s the case, UF is doomed and you might as well start looking for the next coach. I suggest watching North Carolina closely this year. If they have a good year, Larry Fedora may be the next coach of the Gators.

  2. At least Jon Harrison cared! A team in that kind of chaos can only point to one thing – the Head Ball Coach and his lack of leadership. Hence the reason 80% of us vehemently wanted Muschamp replaced after last season. But the silver lining to this story is that the changes made on the Offensive staff reflect not only a personnel change but a philosophy change as well. Whereas last season’s offense was Top 5 in time of possession and Bottom 10 in scoring – this year will be much, much different. Per Kurt Roper the only statistic that matters is POINTS SCORED. Amen Coach Roper! Dear Coach Muschamp – You have produced a shining example of what we don’t want in a football team/season. Not just the losses but the chaos as well. You have one last chance to get it right. Please make the best of it! Take back the SWAMP, control your emotions, develop your players and win some damn ballgames.

  3. Major surprise. Snowprint blames it all on Coach Muschamp. Shocked.

    By the way, this article is out of date. Harrison came out the very day after the interview appeared and stated that it does not accurately convey his thoughts. He emphatically praises Coach Muschamp.

    Hopefully Harrison learns a few lessons. First, it is not a good idea to give interviews unless there is a good reason. Second, do not assume that the Interviewer is your friend, or has the same agenda as you. Third, insist that you have the opportunity to preview the finished product. Even an honest Interviewer can mistake your intent–especially if you are not experienced in expressing yourself in the chosen format. Finally, you do not owe the Interviewer anything, including trust.

  4. Ole8gtr, Harrison did not say anything he said was inaccurate. He just said that it may have been taken the wrong way and that he still supports Muschamp. So the article is not out of date and is an accurate portrayal of the team by a former player. The whole point is that they did not act as a team,placing blame on other parts of the team instead of helping each other get better. You can recruit the beat athletes, which UF has done better than anyone the past few year according to the recruiting rankings, outside of Alabama, but if you don’t come together as team, squads with less talent, i.e. Georgia Southern, will perform better. Talent is useless if it doesn’t perform together. This ain’t golf or tennis, you need to help each other to achieve greatness.