Thoughts of the day: November 17, 2013



There is no way that Will Muschamp is going to lose his job as Florida’s football coach even with the Gators all but assured of a losing season after going down, 19-17, to South Carolina, but after going down four straight times a weary Gator Nation needed to see proof of life. That the Gators were able to go bell to bell with focus and intensity was necessary medicine for a fan base filled with doubters. The doubters got proof positive that the Gators haven’t bagged the season and that Muschamp hasn’t lost control of his team. As Muschamp moves forward, he’s going to have problems to solve and issues to address. In other words, there will have to be change but as long as his team believes in him, Muschamp has a chance to right the ship and get the Gators back into championship contention.


They certainly do at Auburn after that 73-yard touchdown pass from Nick Marshall to Ricardo Louis that gave the seventh-ranked Tigers a 43-38 win over Georgia at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn was trailing 38-37 and down to its last play – it was fourth and 18 – when Marshall threw the ball as far as he could into double coverage. All Josh Harvey-Clemons had to do was bat the ball down but he went for the interception, tipped the ball and Louis ran under it and steamed into the end zone. The loss killed off any hopes Georgia had of winning the SEC East while setting up a winner take all showdown in the Iron Bowl with Alabama in two weeks. Alabama is ranked #1 and trying to win a third straight national title. There is no question Alabama will be favored, probably by as much as two touchdowns since Auburn doesn’t exactly play much defense, but after seeing that miracle finish against Georgia you have wonder if maybe this is a team of destiny.


Had Texas lost a close one to 12th-ranked Oklahoma State, Mack Brown might still have a chance to keep his job. By losing, 38-13, his fate is all but sealed. If there is a chance to remain gainfully employed next season, it probably hinges on the Longhorns (7-3) knocking off Texas Tech and Baylor to close out the season. Beating Baylor has always been part of the save his job equation and that doesn’t look very promising after the Bears Baylored Texas Tech 63-34, racking up 675 yards along the way.


It will take a miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead proportions for Dana Holgorsen to keep his job at West Virginia, which is now assured of its first losing season since 2001 thanks to a most embarrassing, 31-19, loss to Kansas. How embarrassing was it? Well, it was not only the first Big 12 win ever for Charlie Weis at Kansas, but the first Big 12 win for KU since a win over Colorado in 2010.
For Holgorsen, whose job security was hanging on by a thread anyway, losing to the Fighting Cheeseburgers is probably the final nail in his coaching coffin. Figure the first call after the inevitable will go to Pep Hamilton, the offensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts, who was Andrew Luck’s coordinator at Stanford, also. Luck’s dad, Oliver, is the AD at WVU.


Southern Cal is 5-1 since Ed Orgeron took over the team on an interim basis. It would come as no surprise to anyone if Coach O winds up as the Pac-12 Conference Coach of the Year. Just one week after all the talking heads at ESPN were gushing that Stanford was a legit national championship contender after beating Oregon, the Fighting Orgerons pulled off a 20-17 upset of the fourth ranked Cardinal without no help from the running game. It was fun watching Coach O on the sideline. He is the energy force behind this team and it’s obvious he has these guys believing they can do it. Southern Cal did it Saturday with a little more than 50 scholarship players thanks to NCAA sanctions, another reason he deserves some coach of the year mention.


After a 15-33 record in his first four years on the job, there were calls for the head of Duke head coach David Cutcliffe, but the school elected to be patient and it has paid off in a big way. Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils are 14-9 in the last two years. Last year, he took the Blue Devils to the Independence Bowl but with an 8-2 record after beating up on Miami, 48-30, Saturday, Duke’s bowl stock is on the rise. Consider this: in the four years prior to hiring Cutcliffe, Duke was 4-42.


Florida State will stay at #2 after pounding Syracuse 59-3 and Ohio State will stay at #3 after its 60-34 win over Illinois. The Seminoles will get no help from their strength of schedule the next two weeks with Idaho and a Florida team that has lost five in a row, but logic says that if FSU continues to win impressively they won’t be overtaken. Ohio State won its 22nd straight game but will get no bump from Indiana or Michigan in its last two games. The Buckeyes could get some help in the Big Ten Championship Game if Michigan State wins its final two regular season games and cracks the top ten. The team to watch is Baylor. The Bears will get some positive movement out of their win over Texas Tech and they could get a serious bounce next week if they can knock off Oklahoma State on the road. The Bears finish the season with Texas but the only way a win over the Longhorns helps is if they score 60-70 points. The way it looks now, it’s going to be a Florida State-Alabama national championship game but definitely keep an eye on Baylor. The Bears have the toughest end of season schedule and need three straight impressive wins to sneak them past FSU.


My ballot would look something like this: (1) Alabama; (2) Florida State; (3) Ohio State; (4) Baylor; (5) Auburn; (6) Oregon; (7) Clemson; (8) Missouri; (9) South Carolina; (10) Texas A&M; (11) Oklahoma State; (12) UCLA; (13) Stanford; (14) Michigan State; (15) Fresno State; (16) Wisconsin; (17) LSU; (18) Louisville; (19) UCF; (20) Arizona State; (21) Ole Miss; (22) Northern Illinois; (23) Oklahoma; (24) Minnesota; (25) Duke.


From their very first album in May of 1969, I have had such an appreciation for the music of Crosby, Stills and Nash. During the early 1980s when David Crosby spent some time in prison for weapons and drug problems, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash turned out the album “Daylight Again” under the Crosby, Stills and Nash banner. On “Southern Cross” Stills and Nash employed Art Garfunkel to sing the harmony that would have normally been sung by Crosby. I can’t tell the difference. It still sounds like Crosby, Stills and Nash.

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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.