Thoughts of the day: November 10, 2013

A few thoughts to jump start your Sunday morning:


It really wasn’t supposed to be like this, was it? Florida’s season was supposed to come down to the South Carolina game for the right to advance to the Southeastern Conference Championship Game and with a home win against Florida State, the Gators might find themselves smack dab in the middle of the national championship talk. Instead, the Gators are 4-5 and barring a miracle of feeding the 5,000 proportions it’s a season that will not end well. It’s hard to imagine the Gators beating South Carolina in Columbia next week and unless Jimbo Fisher suspends about 15 of his starters the night before the Florida game, it’s next to impossible seeing anything but a huge loss to the dratted Seminoles.


Everything Jeremy Foley has said in public is that Will Muschamp isn’t going anywhere and that he will be Florida’s football coach next year but Foley was saying similar things about about Ron Zook in 2004 just a short time before Zooker went down in flames after an unfortunate incident with a fraternity and an even more unfortunate loss to Mississippi State. Last year’s 11-2 record probably is the mulligan that will get Muschamp a fourth year, but if Foley perceives that he’ll lose the support of critical big money boosters or that Muschamp has lost his team or that recruiting will take a serious hit, then change will definitely be made.


It is not Foley’s nature to interfere with his coaches. He prefers to work quietly in the background, providing the coaches for every sport with exactly what they need to win championships but the same rules that Foley might apply to a coach of a minor sport will never apply to football. Football is the cash cow for a $120 million a year athletic program so if football takes a financial hit, the ripple effects are felt throughout the entire program. As long as the money continues to flow, Foley will have patience with Muschamp. Make no mistake about it; this will be a bottom line decision. No matter how much Foley might like Will Muschamp, if the bottom line of the entire athletic department is threatened then Muschamp will have to go. It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.


Yes, Tyler Murphy threw three interceptions and he fumbled the ball away once Saturday, but one interception went through Trey Burton’s hands, another interception happened because he was hit as he threw and the fumble was because the left tackle whiffed. Only the first interception when he overthrew a receiver when Vandy was in cover two can be blamed on Murphy. The shortside read option was an audible and the throw to Solomon Patton in the end zone should have been caught even if the ball was thrown to the back shoulder. Murphy did not play a great game by any account, but he got very little help from his teammates or from the folks dialing up the plays in the booth.


The time to get Alabama was early in the season when the Crimson Tide was struggling to get those new offensive linemen in synch. Now that we’re nine games into the season, Alabama is like a runaway freight train, flattening anything in its path. LSU gave the Tide a pretty good half Saturday night, but then came a second half in which Alabama outscored LSU 21-3 and dominated every phase of the game. Any team that hopes to beat Alabama has to start with this understanding: you don’t necessarily have to play a perfect game to beat the Tide but anything more than one or two mistakes and you’re toast.


Florida State’s Jameis Winston had what is probably his worst game of the year even though the Seminoles blew out Wake Forest Gump, 59-3. Winston was 17-28 for 158 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. For the season he has 2,502 passing yards for 24 touchdowns against only six picks … Last year’s Heisman winner Johnny Manziel threw for 446 yards and five touchdowns in Texas A&M’s 51-41 win over Mississippi State, but he also threw three interceptions. For the season, Manziel has 31 touchdown passes and 3,310 passing yards to go with 611 rushing yards and another eight scores … At some point, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron is going to start picking up momentum. Against LSU he was 14-20 for 179 yards and three touchdowns, bringing his total to 2,041 passing yards for 19 touchdowns against only three picks. More important, Alabama is now 34-2 with McCarron as the starter and he could become the first quarterback to win three national championships. That has to be taken into account.


Buzzards are circling in Morgantown after West Virginia’s 47-40 overtime loss to Texas in a coach elimination game. Figure Dana Holgerson is as good as gone now that the Mountaineers are assured of no better than a 6-6 finish. Had Mack Brown lost this game, his fate would have been sealed. As it is, the Longhorns are still very much in the hunt for the Big 12 Conference championship, which could very well come down to the final game of the season against Baylor. Beat Baylor and Brown will be coaching Texas next year. Lose and there is every good chance that this is his last season on the Texas sideline.


If I had a vote in the top 25 poll it would be: (1) Alabama; (2) Florida State; (3) Ohio State; (4) Baylor; (5) Stanford; (6) Auburn; (7) Oregon; (8) Clemson; (9) Missouri; (10) Texas A&M; (11) South Carolina; (12) Oklahoma State; (13) Fresno State; (14) LSU; (15) UCLA; (16) Michigan State; (17) UCF; (18) Louisville; (19) Wisconsin; (20) Miami; (21) Northern Illinois; (22) Arizona State; (23) Texas; (24) Ole Miss; (25) Notre Dame.



A lot of Gator fans are waking up this morning thinking that this football season is an awful lot like those acid flashbacks from that time in college when they chugged the whole cup of Kool-Aid instead of just taking a sip. The season has been a very bad trip. In honor of those who know exactly what I’m talking about, here is Loudon Wainwright III’s “The Acid Song.”

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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.