Thoughts of the day: February 11, 2014

A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning.


The Gators put their 15-game winning streak on the line tonight in Knoxville in a game that should be closer than Florida’s 67-41 embarrassment of the Vols at the O-Dome just a couple of weeks ago. Tennessee needs a signature win to bolster its chances of making the NCAA Tournament and with 21,000 fans at Thompson-Boling cheering them on, there should be no lack of motivation on their part. There should also be no lack of motivation on the part of the Gators, either. Florida has a two-game lead over Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference race and the Gators will be traveling to Lexington on Saturday so a split this week is a necessity. Of course, if the Gators were to win both they would be 12-0 in the SEC with at least a three-game lead with six to go. I like Florida to win tonight for two reasons: (1) I think the Gators play good enough defense to neutralize the home crowd and Jordan McRae, who is a lights out shooter; and (2) this team has truly embraced this season as an opportunity to be great. Patric Young and Scottie Wilbekin talk about it all the time and the more you listen the more you realize this isn’t idle chatter among a bunch of college kids, but something these guys hold dear in their hearts and minds. Yes, this is a team that has the possibility to be great.


Oklahoma State All-American guard Marcus Smart has been suspended three games for shoving a fan Saturday night in the Cowboys’ loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock. Smart was provoked by Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr, who denies that he used a racial slur but does admit that he called Smart “a piece of crap” when Smart ran off the court and into the end zone after attempting to block a shot. Smart shouldn’t have reacted as he did and he deserves the suspension, but what Orr said was every bit as inappropriate. I’m surprised we haven’t had more incidents like this. I’ve been going to games for more than 50 years and too many fans cross the line of decency with some of the things they yell. I realize there is free speech, but there is also such a thing as decency.


Michigan State coach Tom Izzo sounded off about Twitter on Mike and Mike Monday. Izzo believes that Twitter has allowed fans to hide behind anonymous handles to say some of the trashiest things about coaches and athletes. “It doesn’t matter what you tweet; it’s what you read,” Izzo said on Mike and Mike. “That’s what I keep telling my guys. We can control what they tweet, to a certain extent. They’re going to get frustrated sometimes and probably say something stupid. But it’s what they read. If somebody’s writing stuff about your daughter when she’s in high school, I’ll bet you look at it a little differently. I’ve had grown men (my players) in my office in tears because of what’s being written. That’s what brings the frustration level.”


In a column he penned for Southern Pigskin, Troupe spoke out about Twitter and its effect on recruiting: “To those people on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram talking trash to these teenagers because they chose another school over your school, here are some words of advice: please grow up and get a life.  Remember, growing old is inevitable, while growing up is a choice, so please make the choice to grow up, because calling these young men all these expletives and everything but a child of God is ridiculus.  That’s what happens when you hide behind the computer screens and laptops and fake Twitter names and profiles, and want to talk trash to these young people and then see them in the street and ask for an autograph.  I am just saying it is pathetic, and as my grandmother would always say, ‘If you did not help me get here, do not tell me where I should go and, most importantly, what I should do.’”


Richard Petty, who knows a thing or two about winning races (he won 200 NASCAR races in his career), thinks Danica Patrick is good for NASCAR because she has drawn more attention to the sport. Petty has nice things to say when it comes to Patrick as a PR magnet, but he’s not so complimentary when it comes to her driving. Patrick finished 27th last year in the driver’s cup standings and had one top ten finish. Asked if Patrick could ever actually win a race on a NASCAR track, Petty says, “If everybody else stayed home.”


Rather than the brand new 30,000 (or more) seat arena that was proposed three or four years ago, Rupp Arena will get a $310 million facelift. Rupp was built in 1976 and there have been few improvements to the nearly 24,000-seat arena in downtown Lexington. The newly designed Rupp will feature luxury boxes, better seating and other amenities. While keeping Rupp means that Lexington’s downtown will benefit, it’s a bit surprising that Kentucky didn’t go for a larger arena and the revenue that it would generate. Kentucky fans often tease that the smart thing to do would be put a dome over 67,000-seat Commonwealth Stadium. There is no question Kentucky fans would sell it out. There are basketball crazy fans and then there are Kentucky fans. The two are not one and the same.


I understand that the name Redskins is offensive to a lot of people, but I question the lawmakers and other politically correct folks who are considering legal or congressional action against Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to force him to change the team name. There is such a thing as free speech and freedom of expression in our country and I don’t think the courts are the place to settle this issue. What I think would be far more effective is for fans who are offended to boycott the Redskins by refusing to buy tickets or merchandise and for fans in NFL stadiums to refuse to attend any game that the Redskins are playing in until the name changes. I’ve always believed that if you really want change, hit someone in his wallet. I have also always believed that if you want to make a problem worse, then let our elected lawmakers get hold of it. As Ronald Reagan once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'”


This goes beyond the obvious that Canadians are good at the sports of the Winter Olympics because they live in a country where it’s winter more than half the year. At Canada House, set up as a refuge for Canadian athletes, there is a beer fridge supplied by Molson. To get a beer all you have to do is scan your Canadian passport and the fridge pops open so you can get a free beer. What a concept.


Sam Cooke is another musician who died much too young. He had an unforgettable voice and style. He never got the recognition that he should have when he was at his peak in the late 1950s through the mid-1960s but his music has endured and passed the test of time. This is one of my favorites from his 1962 album “Mr. Soul” entitled “Nothing Can Change This Love.”

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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. Ray…
    Good to see you chime in on occassion. Thank you for your insight on all things, Gator.

    If you love Same Cooke, and have not been to Clarksdale, Mississippi, then I would encourage you to do so. Clarksdale is the birthplace and boyhood home of Cooke and many other great Bluesmen, like Muddy Waters and Pinetop Perkins. It is regarded as, The Home of the Blues” and is located right off Highway 61… which is, “The Blues Highway.”
    Here is a Blues Trail Marker that the State of Mississippi has errected:

    Other great notable Blues Masters like Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Ike Turner have all played there in juke joints in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Clarksdale is also the home of the Delta Blues Museum.
    Being that the Rock genre came forth from the Blues music and its chord progressions… any affectionado of Classic Rock needs to visit Clarksdale and go to one of their many Blues Festivals throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall. Rock Greats like Robert Plant revisit Clarksdale once every few years just to soak in the ambience.
    Here is a link to Clarksdale’s first festival of the year, Their annual Juke Joint Festival.

  2. Franz,
    I can see you are a student of laissez faire by some of your comments about the Redskins. And in many situations that might be a good approach. In this situation I don’t think it is. What if they were called the Washington Jiggaboos? Or any other derogatory name that has been used. Growing up in the South, I am confident that segregation or other racial inequalities would have been impacted by the pocketbook because most of the South was brought up to believe it was the right way to treat people. As to Regan’s phrase, what happens when there is a natural disaster? Then those effected are screaming, where is the government? If you are going to express your political views, you should be prepared for seeing the other side, but growing up in the south, I realize that at times is hard to see.

    • I do not believe the government should be telling a private enterprise what they can or can’t call themselves. I found the Nazis marching in Skokie, Illinois offensive and disgusting and in no way would I advocate anything they stand for but I would stand up for their right to say what they have to say because once we cross that line we open the door for the government to tell us what we can say and hear in our churches and anywhere else. The beauty of free speech in this country is that by allowing people to express themselves — even when it is offensive — they get exposed. When speech is suppressed everybody’s freedom is suppressed in one way, shape or form.

      That I grew up in the south has nothing to do with anything, particularly since you have no clue what my background is. I’m not expressing any political view here, but I am expressing my belief that we have to be very careful where the government chooses to get involved.