Thoughts of the day: January 13, 2014

A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning.


As a guest on ESPN Radio Sunday afternoon, Charles Barkley was talking football, which happens to be his favorite subject. He’s actually quite connected and knowledgeable whether it’s college football or the NFL. During one of his discourses, Barkley got into the trend of firing coaches even one or two years after they’re hired. He made a very good point – using recently fired Cleveland Browns coach Rob Chudzinski as the example – that most coaching changes are about a lack of winning. Chudzinski was brought the Cleveland because the Browns didn’t win, then the management traded all his players and fired him after one year. “The situation was bad when he got there and they expect it to be good in one year?” Barkley asked. “You gotta give a coach four years or five years before you know what you got.”


It has always been my contention that unless something disastrous happens – and breaking NCAA rules is the disaster at the top of the list – that you have to give a college coach a minimum of four years. It isn’t until the fourth year that the coach has a roster that’s at least 85-90% filled with players he has recruited and he should have a two-deep that is filled with players capable of competing at that level. When there were so many calling for Jeremy Foley to fire Will Muschamp last year, I thought – then and now – that it was the wrong thing to even suggest. Muschamp has to be given a full four years before we can have a truly fair evaluation. He will be coaching his own guys in 2014 and by season’s end we should have a pretty good idea, which way the program is trending. I do not think that Jeremy Foley has a set number of wins that Muschamp has to get to, but of course, the more he wins the easier it is to extend the contract.


Saturday night, the #1-ranked Florida gymnasts opened their season on the road with a win at Pauley Pavilion over #4 UCLA. Florida survived some unexpected low scores on the vault, MacKenzie Caquatto coming up short and landing on her seat twice on the floor exercises and NCAA all-around and beam champ Bridget Sloan falling on the beam. By no means was this the kind of performance to expect moving forward with this Florida team, but when you can beat a team like UCLA in its own house when you’re not at your best, it says a lot for the rest of the season.


Will Yeguete is not the same player he was a year ago and don’t expect him to get back to that level, not this year and maybe never. He had microfracture surgery on his knee in the offseason and I’ve seen that end too many careers way too early. It’s what turned Greg Oden into just another tall guy. When he had just finished his junior year in high school, Delvon Roe was NBA ready. Then he hurt his knee, had microfracture and was a shell of himself the next four years at Michigan State, where he could barely dunk even though he is 6-8. Yeguete last year could defend any position on the floor but now lacks lateral quickness and has very little elevation, the two things that typically depart when an athlete has microfracture surgery. He’s contributing to the Gators and getting by on guts and savvy. Anything he contributes each game is going to be a plus.


Even though he’s getting $1 million to be Bobby Petrino’s defensive coordinator at Louisville, it’s baffling that Todd Grantham would leave Georgia, where he was making $850,000, particularly when 21 of the top 22 on his two-deep are coming back. I’ve never been a big Grantham fan and always thought his defenses made the spectacular plays but neglected the routine, which is why Georgia never got to a BCS bowl game in his four years on the job even when he had NFL talent. I have to question why make the move to Louisville and the Atlantic Coast Conference? Unless, of course, he was told subtly don’t let the screen door hit you in the butt on the way out … and that, I believe is entirely possible, especially since secondary coach Scott Lakatos mysteriously resigned earlier in the week.


The first name that will be mentioned is Kirby Smart because he’s a Georgia grad, but when he leaves Alabama it will be for a head coaching job somewhere – perhaps Vanderbilt. There is some talk that Richt will go after former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik but he’s living large off buyout money and has been a national championship head coach so it seems doubtful. University of Houston defensive coordinator Alex Gibbs’ name has also been mentioned. He was the defensive coordinator at Auburn in 2005, replaced after one year by Will Muschamp. Before a decision is made, I expect Richt to make a run at Ed Orgeron, even though I strongly believe that Coach O is going to wind up as the defensive line coach at Alabama.


With the announcement that Joe Wickline is leaving Oklahoma State for Texas to join the new staff he’s building, Charlie Strong has made it abundantly clear that he is going to use the almost limitless resources at his disposal to bring in an outstanding staff. Wickline, who was on the Florida staff with Strong during the Ron Zook years, is the best offensive line coach in the country and the numbers bear it out – in the last seven years at Okie State (91 games) his lines have only allowed 84 sacks and have opened the holes for six running backs who gained at least 1,200 yards. That’s why Wickline’s compensation package at Okie State was $700,000. He will make more at Texas. Strong is also bringing in former Alabama D-line coach Chris Rumph, and former Southern Cal running backs coach Tommie Robinson. Vance Bedford is coming from Louisville as the defensive coordinator and Shawn Watson will be the quarterbacks coach. There is a rumor that Zook will take over as Strong’s special teams and recruiting coordinator although that’s not confirmed.


Florida State took another hit when running back Devonta Freeman announced he’s bolting along with running back James Wilder Jr., wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan … Alabama, which is losing safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, offensive tacklye Cyrus Kouandijo, defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan and linebacker Adrian Hubbard, could be losing safety Vinnie Sunseri as well. Sunseri’s season was cut short by a torn ACL … LSU is losing four – wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry and defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson. The good news for the Tigers is that stud running back Jeremy Hill and offensive tackle La’El Collings are coming back … Auburn is losing running back Tre Mason and offensive tackle Greg Robinson … Missouri is losing defensive end Kony Ealey and running back Henry Josey … South Carolina is losing four – defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, wide receiver Bruce Ellington, corner Victor Hampton and defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles … Texas A&M is losing quarterback Johnny Manziel and wide receiver Mike Evans … Former Gators Jonathan Dowling (safety, Western Kentucky) and A.C. Leonard (tight end, Tennessee State) are leaving early.


The northern California band Pablo Cruise had a nice run of about eight years starting in the mid-1970s. I liked their studio albums fine, but thought they were so much better in person where they treated concerts like they were still a bar band. They reunited in 2004 and produced a very cool CD in 2010 called “It’s Good to be Live.” This is “Love Will Find a Way” which was the best song on their “World’s Away” album from 1978.  The video is of a 2011 live performance.


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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. Franz… Great commnets about dealing with a brand new coach. Yep…many of us feel that a new coach needs four years. I realize that The Zooker got canned after 3… but there were a lot of additional happenings going on in that (dumpster) fire.

    Ah… Pablo Cruise. Fantastic harmonies… great lyrics!
    You just gave me some good inspiration for a new song in my band.
    Because we feature three very good vocalists…this song will work for us.

    • I always have loved that Pablo Cruise was better live than they were in the studio. They never lost that feel of being a bar band and playing to the audience.

  2. Franz – Always respect your words but disagree with you on retaining Muschamp after last year’s debacle. I have heard that it was potential payout $$$ influencing Foley’s decision however just too many negatives from the Muschamp era thus far. Unlike yourself I believe we know what we’ve got and that is a coach ill equipped for the job. Would Spurrier or Meyer have gone 4-8 any year – much less in their 3rd year as HBC? Add in the fact that both Strong and Franklin were available and imo either would have been a major upgrade. The University of Florida should NEVER be a place that a lifetime assistant goes to LEARN to be a head ball coach. And given 4 years to do it? That’s simply ridiculous.