Thoughts of the day: February 9, 2014

A few thoughts to jump start your Sunday morning.


A look at the Florida depth chart with the additions of the recruiting class of 2014 shows that for the most part, Will Muschamp and his staff did a fine job of filling holes in the roster. There is an area of concern, however. Florida only has eight scholarship linebackers and three of them – Alex Anzalone, Matt Rolin and Jeremi Powell – are out for the spring. Rolin and Powell are rehabbing ACL tears while Anzalone is being held out to strengthen a shoulder which required surgery last spring and was dislocated against Georgia Southern. Additionally, Mike Taylor and Antonio Morrison are coming off injuries that cost them the final games of 2013. Fortunately, all eight should be healthy in August, but even with everybody healthy, the Gators won’t be able to afford even one serious injury once the games begin on August 30.


It’s rare the winning streak that doesn’t include at least one great escape or a couple of dog’s butt ugly wins. Florida’s winning streak is at 15 now and you can look back on a couple of grind it out games that were almost painful to watch. In knocking off Alabama Saturday, the Gators didn’t play their ugliest game of the year although there was a stretch when the Gators lost an 18-12 lead and fell behind 28-21 that would qualify as the worst basketball the Gators have played this season. Still, the Gators were able to put it together for long enough stretches to come away with a win that upped their record to 21-2, the second best start to a season in UF history. The best start was the national championship year in 2007 when the Gators started 24-2. To have a shot at tying the school record the Gators will have to win on the road next week at Tennessee Tuesday night and Saturday in Lexington against Kentucky.


Alabama fans were already upset with basketball coach Anthony Grant before Saturday’s loss to Florida. The heat will ratchet up several notches this week unless the Crimson Tide can show signs of turning things around. Grant is a fine basketball coach who has been hamstrung this season by the transfer of former McDonald’s All-American Trevor Lacey to North Carolina State and former McDonald’s All-American Devonta Pollard assisting his mother in the kidnapping of a 6-year-old girl last spring. Add those two to the Alabama roster and the Crimson Tide is a serious player in the SEC this year and not a team struggling to stay afloat. It hasn’t helped that the state of Alabama has had a serious talent drought since 2009 when the state produced three 5-star recruits. The state produced only seven 4-star players from 2010-13 before producing four in 2014. Of those four, Grant got two of them. If they will be patient in Tuscaloosa, Anthony Grant will get the job done and he won’t cheat.


Justin Hamilton is averaging 5.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists for Spirou in the Belgian League … Brent Wright averages 10.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game for Oostende in the Belgian League … Lee Humphrey is averaging 12.9 points and 4.1 assists per game for BC Kyiv in the Ukrainian League … Taurean Green is averaging 9.3 points and 3.3 assists per game for Limoges in the French League … Adrian Moss is averaging 9.7 points and 9.5 rebounds per game for Bambitious Nara in the Japanese League … Donnell Harvey is averaging 13.4 points and 12 rebounds per game for Shandong in the Chinese League … Vernon Macklin is averaging 12.9 points and 5.7 rebounds for Liaoning in the Chinese League … Anthony Roberson averages 16.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for Al Jaysh in the Qatar League … Matt Walsh averages 17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds for Granarolo BO in the Italian League … Bonell Colas is averaging 19.1 points and 14.8 rebounds for Randers in the Danish League … Walter Hodge is averaging 6.0 points and 2.1 assists per game for Laboral Kutxa in the Spanish League … After averaging 13.1 points and 3.3 assists per game for Stelmet ZG in the Polish League, Erving Walker has been traded to Chalon in the French League … Kenny Boynton is averaging 12.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for Galil Gilboa in the Israeli League … Alex Tyus is averaging 9.6 points and 6.3 rebounds for Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Israeli League … James White is averaging 14.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game for Grissin Bon in the Italian League … Mohamed Abukar is averaging 12.3 points and 3.1 rebounds for Spirou in the Belgian League.


Aaron Hernandez remains jailed in Massachusetts, charged with one murder for which he will stand trial and potentially facing charges that he was involved in the murder of two more people. Everything points to Hernandez in the murder of Odin Lloyd and his behavior in the days after the murder would seem to indicate he’s guilty of something, but the state still hasn’t found the weapon that discharged five shots into Lloyd’s body and it lacks an eye witness. The state was also denied Friday any access to recordings of Hernandez jailhouse conversations. This case raises two important questions: (1) Does the state have enough evidence to get a conviction? (2) What happens if the state finds evidence that implicates someone else? If that were to happen I have to wonder if there is an NFL team that would take a risk on Hernandez?


Johnny Quinn, who is on the US Bobsled team, had a great escape in Sochi at the Winter Olympics. When Quinn finished taking his shower he discovered that his bathroom door was somehow locked. With no way to open the door or summon for help, Quinn, who used to play in the NFL, lowered his shoulder and broke through the door to freedom. I’m not making this up.


Ice dancing is supposed to be a sport. I get it that you have to be pretty athletic to hold a 100-pound girl above your head with one hand while whizzing across the ice on a pair of skates – I file that one under do not ever attempt under any circumstance – but you have to be pretty athletic to be in the Kirov Ballet and I don’t hear anyone petitioning the Olympic Committee to add ballet to the summer games. Okay, they haven’t yet. Maybe they will someday. I saw Rudolf Nuryev and I saw Baryshnikov. You can be from the south and appreciate good ballet, too. Those guys are great athletes to do what they do, but ballet isn’t a sport and neither is ice dancing. Just because you’re athletic and you can prance like a poodle across the ice with a girl doesn’t mean it’s a sport. Since when is artistic impression a part of sports? You don’t get extra points on a touchdown because you made an acrobatic catch and a home run still only counts as one run even if it was a picture perfect swing.


The French publication L’Equipe has quoted an unnamed source who says there is a fix in the works in Sochi between judges of the United States and Russia. L’Equipe’s source says that the Russian dance judge (I told you it wasn’t a sport!) will prop up the scores of Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the world champs, so they can score gold over the Canadians. In exchange for the Russian judge, the American judges will mark the Russian skaters higher in the team competition in ice dancing so that the home crowd can leave the venue with the world and fuzzies.



I have been listening to the “Unchain Your Mind” CD by Heavy Shift the last couple of days. This is one of the toughest CDs to find anywhere since it was first recorded on the now defunct China Records label. New versions of the CD run $33 on Amazon and there are very few used ones available since no one wants to part with it. The best cut on the album for this British acid jazz band is “90 Degrees in the Shade” which features great sax work by John Wallace and some funky organ by William South.

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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. You’re missing something about the linebackers. They also must play better. The guy who is supposedly the best one, Antonio Morrison, was miserable last year before his injury. We also have no clue about the ability of the backups, since they have rarely seen the field. As seen with the departing Ronald Powell, the number of stars beside their name doesn’t mean they will live up to the billing. If there aren’t enough linebackers, I don’t know the optimal number, where are there too many players? UF should be at full strength, numbers wise, or that would be another indictment of the head coach.