Thoughts of the day: December 5, 2013


While so much attention is being paid to Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell, Southern Cal interim head coach/offensive coordinator Clay Helton and Texas co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, Miami offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach James Coley is flying under the radar. There are ties to Muschamp and Nick Saban: Coley was a graduate assistant at LSU when Muschamp was the defensive coordinator, Jimbo Fisher was the offensive coordinator and potential UF offensive line coach Stacey Searels was the offensive line coach; Coley was on the Miami Dolphins staff with Muschamp; and Coley worked for Jimbo Fisher at Florida State from 2007-12. ESPN rated him the most effective recruiter in the ACC when he was at Florida State and he is given credit for re-opening the South Florida pipeline to FSU. Coley’s Miami offense in 2013 averaged 446.8 yards and 35.9 points per game. The critical numbers: 9.2 yards per pass attempt; 5.07 per rushing attempt; and 7.01 per play. Compare those to Florida: 6.6 yards per pass attempt; 3.63 per rushing attempt; and 4.79 yards per play. He’s being paid $500,000 per year. From a standpoint of wide open offense, recruiting and familiarity, this is a move that could make sense.


When the Gators played UConn Monday night, it was announced by ESPN that McDonald’s All-American Chris Walker is completing one last class in his attempt to gain eligibility. As I’ve been reporting for the past month, Walker has already completed his course work and is now simply awaiting the stamp of approval by the NCAA Clearinghouse, news that should come very shortly to Billy Donovan, who definitely needs the talented 6-10 power forward before the Gators start their SEC season. Once cleared, Walker will be able to start practicing with the Gators immediately after final exams are over at UF. It is thought that the NCAA might suspend Walker for two or three games because he took an unofficial visit to Kansas that was paid for by former Florida Rams director Matt Ramker, who has been given a five-year show cause by the NCAA, which effectively blackballs him from AAU basketball.


Tallahassee State Attorney Willie Meggs has scheduled a 2 p.m. press conference to announce the findings of an investigation into sexual assault by Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. That Meggs would announce a press conference would seem to indicate that Winston will get a free pass on a case that calls into question the ethics of the Tallahassee Police Department. The TPD claims it put the case on the inactive list because the alleged victim chose not to pursue charges against Winston, something the victim’s attorney, Patricia Carroll, steadfastly denies. The case only saw the light 11 months after an alleged sexual assault took place. DNA evidence links Winston to the alleged victim. Carroll claims that Winston raped her client.


The timing of the Meggs announcement is interesting. Just last week he claimed that it would be another two weeks before he would have seen enough evidence to decide whether the case merited prosecution or not, but to wait two weeks could cost Winston (a) the Heisman Trophy and (b) a chance to quarterback Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game. Of course, if Winston were to be charged with rape, he would be suspended immediately from the FSU football team, which only needs to beat Duke Saturday to make it to the BCS national championship game. If, at the press conference today, Meggs says there is not enough evidence to pursue charges, it will seem as if he gave FSU – and Winston – an assist to help the freshman quarterback win the Heisman Trophy. If Meggs elects to prosecute, Florida State fans will claim that he’s a publicity whore trying to make a case to further his political career.


Duke is 10-2 and we’re not talking about the basketball team. Duke football. The Blue Devils are also going to a bowl game for the second straight year. That hasn’t happened in school history. They will also be playing Florida State for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in Charlotte this weekend. Now, nobody expects Duke to win that one but nobody expected the Blue Devils to even get to the game in the first place, so anything they do is gravy. The credit for the resurgence goes to David Cutcliffe and the patience of the athletic department to allow Cutcliffe to get the right pieces in place so he could win.


You have to go back to the late 1980s when they had this Spurrier guy coaching to find consecutive years when Duke was this good. Old Stevie what’s his name. Duke won the ACC in 1989, something that folks said couldn’t be done even back then. I have no doubt that had Spurrier stayed at Duke the Blue Devils would have established themselves as a power in the ACC. There is something to be said about patience. Duke has had it with Cutcliffe and it has paid off handsomely. The same could be said about the folks at South Carolina, where they were patient those first five years with Spurrier. Spurrier was 35-28 his first five years. He’s 41-11 since and is now the winningest coach in South Carolina history. The Gamecocks are now an established power in the SEC and the entire football culture has changed. Williams-Brice Stadium is now one of the best places in the SEC to go to a game. Patience does pay off.


Cutcliffe took a senior-laden Ole Miss team to a Cotton Bowl win in 2003. A year later he was fired when his freshmen and sophomores didn’t measure up. That led to Coach O and Houston Nutt. They’re happy at Ole Miss with Hugh Freeze so far – 14-11 in his two seasons on the job – but you have to wonder if they will continue to show patience. Freeze is a fine football coach but let’s get real here. It is Ole Miss, which hasn’t the facilities or the resources of Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M or Arkansas, all of which the Rebels compete with in the SEC West. To its credit, Ole Miss is upgrading facilities and has shown patience with basketball coach Andy Kennedy, who got an SEC Tournament championship last year and took the Rebels to the NCAA. Maybe they learned their lesson with Cutcliffe. I have no doubt that Ole Miss would be further along today if Cutcliffe had been the football coach all along.


BCS defenders – yes, there are actually some who believe this is a great system – are ragging on Ohio State for a schedule that only included two ranked teams while Auburn and Missouri each played five. While I have no doubt that Auburn or Missouri could beat Ohio State, I also know these two things: (1) Ohio State played the schedule it was given for the last two years and hasn’t lost; and (2) give Urban Meyer 30 days to prepare for anyone and I like the odds that he will win. I saw too much of Meyer for six years to doubt that he can come up aces in a big game when he has time to prep. Now, do I think Ohio State is necessarily the best team in the country? The answer to that is no, but I’ve thought several times over the past 15 years that the BCS champ wasn’t necessarily the best team in the country, just the one that got into the glamour game and won it. Without a playoff that forces teams to play week-to-week without a month to get ready, it’s all a fashion show.


I discovered the Danish band Asteroids Galaxy Tour at Christmas of 2010 when Heinekin featured them on one of the most creative commercials I’ve ever seen. Heinekin regularly comes up with some of the most creative commercials on television, but this one is probably their best ever. The music is good, too! Here is the full version of the commercial with the complete song “The Golden Age” performed by Asteroids Galaxy Tour.

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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.