Thoughts of the day: January 2, 2014

A few thoughts to jump start your Thursday morning:


Forget about what happened in the Rose Bowl Wednesday. That was just a football game and somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. Do take a look at what Stanford has done on the field the last few years – 46-7 since 2010 – and then take a look at the injury situation. Since Shannon Turley took over director of Stanford’s football sports performance in 2006, the number of season-ending injuries has been reduced by 87%. In the last two years, Stanford has only lost three players to season-ending surgery. Turley doesn’t adhere to the philosophy that the team with the best bench press is going to win the most games. He wants strong players, but he always wants them flexible, which is why there is a heavy emphasis on stretching and yoga. He calls it “real world applicable man strength.” While Stanford players might not have the great 40 and lift results at the NFL Combine, they consistently score high on the Functional Movement Screen, which determines durability and the ability to function in the fourth quarter of ball games.


This is a question worth asking, particularly after a season in which so many players were lost to ACL tears, some of which occurred in non-contact drills. Is there a better way of doing things than the current approach? Obviously, you can have big, strong players with an approach that’s different than the one the Gators are taking. There is no lack of big, physical players at Stanford, whose identity is that of a physically dominating and intimidating team that prefers to line up and knock people off the line of scrimmage. That sounds exactly what Will Muschamp wanted to do at Florida in 2013 except he couldn’t because he kept losing big, strong guys to season-ending injuries that required surgery. At Stanford, the big guys don’t see their seasons end because of ACL tears and they don’t miss lots of games because of high ankle sprains. Not only do their players play, but their future opportunities to play professionally in the future aren’t diminished because of serious injury.


It’s hard to say that a change in the strength training would have saved Jeff Driskel from a broken leg or Tyler Murphy from a separated shoulder. The only way Tyler Moore’s broken arm could have been avoided would have been to forbid players from riding scooters on campus. But, there are plenty of other injuries that you have to wonder if they could have been avoided with a different approach to the strength training program. Would Chaz Green have torn the labrum in his shoulder? Would Dominique Easley or Andre Debose have suffered ACL tears in non-contact drills? We can only speculate but for the future it’s certainly worth taking a long look at what they’re doing at Stanford. Not only could it mean a difference in wins and losses, but more important, it could mean a distinct difference in the longevity of careers.


Did you catch Connor Shaw in South Carolina’s 34-24 win over Wisconsin? All he did was complete 22-25 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns, run for 47 yards and another touchdown, and catch a pass for yet another one. In a league loaded up with big name quarterbacks like Johnny Manzeil, A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenburger, Shaw’s season went virtually unnoticed. All he did was throw 24 touchdown passes and only one interception for an 11-2 team while running for nearly 600 more for another six scores. The best way to measure a quarterback is wins and losses: Shaw finished his South Carolina career 27-5. Only McCarron had a better winning percentage at Alabama.


South Carolina should be heavily favored to win the SEC East in 2014. The Gamecocks do lose their best two players – quarterback Connor Shaw and Jadeveon Clowney, who is going early to the NFL – but not much else. The Gamecocks will lose only five seniors and probably three early to the NFL, so they will be the most experienced and deepest team in the East. The Gamecocks have had three straight 11-win seasons but this should be Steve Spurrier’s best team from top to bottom of the roster. As for the rest of the SEC East: (2) Missouri; (3) Florida; (4) Georgia; (5) Vanderbilt; (6) Tennessee; and (7) Kentucky.


Nebraska and Michigan State saved the Big Ten from an 0-4 Black Wednesday experience, but let’s be honest. Nebraska and Michigan State benefitted greatly from some pretty dumb coaching on the other sideline. There is no excuse for Georgia losing to a Nebraska team that would have problems winning five games in the SEC. And you would think that someone with David Shaw’s NFL experience would know that when you’re trailing by four with three minutes to go you (a) don’t waste a minute and a half in the huddle and (b) run the ball three out of four plays when you’ve got 75 yards to go and you need a touchdown. But, that’s what Stanford did, which explains why it lost to Michigan State. The losses by Iowa and Wisconsin give the Big Ten a 2-4 record, which means the league will have a losing bowl record with only Ohio State’s Orange Bowl game with Clemson remaining. There was a time when the Big Ten was relevant but no more. Until the Big Ten starts recruiting more speed, it’s a league that is going to fall further and further behind the SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12.


Still in play: Charlie Strong (Louisville); James Franklin (Vanderbilt); Art Briles (Baylor)

Probably not: Mark D’Antonio (Michigan State); Jimbo Fisher (Florida State); Gus Malzahn (Auburn); Al Golden (Miami)

Definitely not: Jim Mora (UCLA); David Shaw (Stanford); Urban Meyer (Ohio State); Les Miles (LSU); Jim Harbaugh (San Francisco 49ers); Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks); Chip Kelly (Philadelphia Eagles)

They will try to make a Godfather offer to: Nick Saban (Alabama)

And if everyone else has said no: Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State); Larry Fedora (North Carolina)

The Prediction: Texas offers Charlie Strong $6 million and he takes it. The alternative is to coach Louisville sans Teddy Bridgewater, who will be one of the first three players taken in the NFL Draft in May.


Pac-12: 6-3; SEC: 5-1; Conference USA: 3-3; Mountain West: 3-3; ACC: 3-6; Independents: 2-1; American Athletic: 2-2; Big 12: 2-2; Big 10: 2-4; Sun Belt: 1-0; MAC: 0-4


Sometimes I think we forget just how good Simon and Garfunkel were in the 1960s with their impeccable harmonies, thoughtfully constructed lyrics and catchy tunes that made us want to sing along. “Bookends” reached #1 on the albums charts in 1968, featuring four songs that all made the charts that year and a fifth that didn’t become a hit until 1972 when it was re-released on their “Greatest Hits” album. I liked “America” when it debuted on “Bookends.” I was very happy when it got so much air play in 1972.

Previous articleWillis learned from Landon Collins recruitment
Next articleThe Mark Miller Report: It’s a brand new year
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. Amen Brother. i have been railing on this injury thing all season. One team cannot have THAT much bad luck in a single season.

    between the training regiment AND the predictability of our O scheme (coupled with our defense getting worn down because of it), i think leads to more injuries than people are being led on to. Just from watching replays, you can see these guys are getting jumped at the snap and looks like a jailbreak on most plays. pretty hard to wear your opponents down when you are getting punched in the jawbone play after play.

    the problem i see, is no one is addressing it or at least discussing it as a problem that needs to be fixed

  2. I wonder if you are under the weather. Yesterday you say that Manziel is the best player over Winston because you think he is more talented. Today you say the best way to measure a quarterback is by wins and losses. Like Kennedy reading messages from the Soviet leader during the Cuban missile crisis, which is the correct one? You don’t make sense.

    • No, I did NOT say that Manziel is more talented. I said he is he best player when he is healthy. The best way to measure a quarterback’s effectiveness is wins and losses because that takes into account leadership and other intangibles. I’ve seen tons of players through the years that were the most talented but weren’t the best quarterback. I’ve seen plenty who were the best player but weren’t necessarily the most talented. If you go back to 1995, even Steve Spurrier would say that his most talented quarterback was Eric Kresser, but his best and most effective player was Danny Wuerffel.

  3. I still don’t understand how you could think Manziel is a better player than Winston. In all the attributes you list, Manziel falls short. He is much more elusive, but every in other measurable he trails Winston. I don’t want to burst your bubble but Winston is on the level of a Elway, Manning,Luck etc. Whenever he comes out, you’ll see teams offer a king’s ransom to get the first pick for the opportunity to get him. That would happen this year if he was eligible. If you can find any area he’s lacking, please let the world know, I’m sure defensive coordinators would also like that information.

    • You’re not busting my bubble. Jameis Winston is a great talent and probably will do well in the pros, although I couldn’t care less about what anyone other than former Gators do in the NFL. I think Winston has more talent than Manziel. I think Manziel is a better football player and I’m not alone in that thinking. I’ve been at this a lot of years and I can think of dozens of situations where the best player isn’t always the most talented and where the best college football player isn’t necessarily very good in the pros. Tim Tebow is that example. In 2008 Sam Bradford had the best year and was considered a true pro prospect who led his team to the national championship game. He wasn’t the best football player in the country, though. That was Tim Tebow.

  4. @Snowprint
    Every comment I have seen you make is negative or argumentative… What’s the deal? I think it’s pretty clear what Franz is saying here. Johnny Football is the most electrifying player in college football. There is nobody else that can turn a game on its head and energize his fans and teammates all in one play the way he can. He is the most explosive and best player in college football. Jameis Winston is the prototypical QB that NFL scouts drool over. Great physical tools while remaining calm cool and collected and playing very sound football. Jameis will undoubtedly go on to have a great NFL career and the same can’t be said for Johnny. However he’s not talking about the NFL he is talking about college. Jameis has great leadership skills and that shows in his teams record and how his teammates respond to him and shows in his wins and losses. Johnny is a loose cannon and doesn’t exude the same we’re taking care of business attitude that Jameis does. However he is still the best player in college football where big plays are key to not only having a successful offense but to energizing everyone in a stadium. Main point is College does not = NFL.

  5. I agree that you can pick one over the other as the best player. The difference is I’ve seen Manziel not have a good game. He is spectacular, I agree. I haven’t seen Winston have a bad game. The worst game he has had, in my opinion, is Duke. Still he had a better game with Duke than most players can hope for. Manziel is more spectacular and makes head-scratching plays that leave you amazed at his ability but Winston is more consistent, he has been great EVERY game, that is the difference to me.