Thoughts of the day: March 7, 2014

A few thoughts to jump start your Friday morning.


The National Football Foundation released a ballot that includes 75 players for the 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Thursday including Wes Sandy Chandler, wide receiver, University of Florida. First things first – it’s about time. It’s ridiculous that so many players with far less talent have been elected to the hall ahead of Chandler, who might be the single most talented player in all of Florida football history.

Wes Chandler played in the wishbone era under Doug Dickey, and even though everybody in the stadium knew that if Florida was going to throw the football – rare – it was going in Chandler’s direction. He beat every double and triple team out there and was so quick he couldn’t be jammed at the line of scrimmage. He caught 92 passes for 1,994 yards (21.4 yards per catch) and 22 touchdowns. If he had played for Steve Spurrier, Wes would have set records that nobody would have ever broken.

His senior year, when Dickey’s recruiting shortcomings began to show, Chandler did everything. He played wide receiver. He played tailback. He played quarterback. He only caught 25 passes for 490 yards and six touchdowns that year but ran the ball 61 times for 353 yards and another six scores. He also returned punts and kickoffs.

Against Auburn in 1976, Chandler caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Fisher and scored on an 84-yard run that ranks with Richard Trapp’s run against Georgia in 1967 as the greatest run in Florida history. Against Georgia as a senior in 1977, he caught a one-handed touchdown pass lefty from Terry LeCount – maybe one of the two or three greatest catches in UF history – then played tailback in the second half and ran for two more touchdowns. He scored the winning touchdown after carrying the ball four consecutive times. Everybody in the Gator Bowl knew he was going to get the ball. Nobody could stop him.


Why Derrick Thomas isn’t already in the College Football Hall of Fame is one of life’s great mysteries. He didn’t get voted in last year, which was a travesty. All Thomas did was set the NCAA record for sacks in a career (52), tackles behind the line of scrimmage (74) and sacks in a single season (27). He still holds the single game sack record in the NFL with seven. He’s already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which makes his exclusion from the college hall seem even more of  a mystery. Jerome Brown (Miami) is also on the ballot. He’s another one that should have been there a long time ago. If you’re picking your list of all time greatest defensive tackles in college football, Jerome makes the short list.


Eight other SEC players are on the ballot: Tim Couch, quarterback, Kentucky; Paul Crane, center/linebacker, Alabama; Willie Gault, wide receiver, Tennessee; Bobby Humphrey, running back, Alabama; Larry Seivers, wide receiver, Tennessee; Art Still, defensive end, Kentucky; Jackie Walker, linebacker, Tennessee; and Wesley Walls, tight end, Ole Miss. If I were voting, Paul Crane, Art Still and Jackie Walker would be on my ballot. Sterling Sharpe (wide receiver, South Carolina) is on the ballot but he played there before the Gamecocks were in the SEC. Former South Carolina coach Jim Carlen is also on the ballot as is Danny Ford, who coached Arkansas for four years back in the 1990s.


Andrew Wiggins has made it clear he’s not coming back to Kansas. Figure Julius Randle and James Young of Kentucky won’t be back and if you are prone to wager, put some money on the Harrison Twins doing an early exit at UK as well. Jabari Parker talks a good game about maybe staying at Duke one more year, but he’s going to be the #1 draft pick. He won’t stay. Neither will Tyler Ennis at Syracuse or Aaron Gordon at Arizona. Joel Embiid of Kansas needs another year like the other guys, but he won’t pass up the millions. Meanwhile Florida has four four-year guys in Patric Young, Casey Prather, Will Yeguete and Scottie Wilbekin. None of them will get lottery contracts but they will all get a chance to play professional basketball, if not in the NBA somewhere around the globe where they will make a tidy six-figure income. They will also leave with their college degrees, three SEC championships, memories and friends for a lifetime, and the maturity that comes with growing up and learning to face adversity. That’s priceless.


The NCAA rules committee, which was on the verge of giving us the “Saban Rule,” got one right Thursday when it eliminated the 15-yard penalty if a targeting call is reversed. It was so confounding last season whenever the zebras called targeting because even if the folks in the booth reversed the decision on the field, that 15-yard personal foul penalty was still assessed. Why it couldn’t have been changed last year is anybody’s guess. The NCAA says once a rule is in place it stays in place, but that’s one that the rules committee should have suspended two or three weeks into the season. Good riddance!


Basketball coaches yell at players all the time. Sometimes they curse. Sometimes they also cross the line, which is what South Carolina coach Frank Martin did Tuesday night when the Gators trampled the Gamecocks, 72-46. In a video that went viral on, Young could be seen screaming at freshman point guard Duane Notice, “Answer the $%(#!ing question, A&$%ole!” For that, Martin has been suspended for South Carolina’s final regular season game of the season Saturday at Mississippi State for verbal abuse. It’s one thing to say a curse word when yelling at a player – that happens all the time – but it’s something altogether different when it gets personal. Martin got personal and deserved the suspension. I’m sure he’ll get fined by the Southeastern Conference as well.


Joe Mauer, who was once set to be the next great quarterback at FSU before the Minnesota Twins pulled up at his house with a Brinks truck full of money, has caught his last game. A career .323 hitter with three American League batting titles to his credit, Mauer is shifting to first base after determining that he just can’t catch anymore after suffering a severe concussion last year when he took a foul ball to the mask. Most of the catchers who have converted to a new position later in their careers did so because the legs gave out. Johnny Bench, maybe the best catcher who ever lived, played third base and first base the last couple of years of his career. Joe Torre made the move to third and then to first, also. The wear and tear on catchers’ bodies is incredible and it makes me wonder how guys like Yogi Berra spent so many years behind the plate in the days when equipment wasn’t nearly as good as it is today.


If Amanda Butler’s Gators can beat Kentucky for a third straight year, they will advance to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. The Gators held on to beat Mississippi State in the second round of the tournament Thursday afternoon. One more win and they will certainly make the NCAA field, quite an accomplishment for a team playing with only eight scholarship players. FLORIDA SPORTS TODAY: The #1-ranked softball team opens the SEC schedule with a 3-game stand against Ole Miss, starting at 6 p.m. at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium … It’s senior night for Florida seniors MacKenzie Caquatto, Alaina Johnson and Lauren Rose as the #2 gymnastics team hosts West Virginia at the O-Dome at 7 p.m. … Florida’s baseball team hosts UConn at McKethan Stadium starting at 7 p.m.  


Today I heard that Chicago has continued to be an avid supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project which helps our wounded and disabled veterans regain some semblance of a life. That was enough for me. Today’s music seems appropriate. It’s “Call on Me” from the album “Chicago VII.”

Previous articleA true Fab Four: Early impressions
Next articlePD’s Postulations: To lose or not to lose
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.