Thoughts of the day: October 15, 2013


Matt Jones is done for the season with a torn meniscus and that’s a blow to Florida’s already challenged offense. Although he hadn’t performed at a consistently high level, Jones had a unique skill set and the kind of power to keep the chains moving in Florida’s conservative approach. He is the fourth very important Gator to go down on the offensive side of the ball. Although it can be argued that Tyler Murphy has done a more than adequate job replacing Jeff Driskel at quarterback, the Gators are hurting at right tackle where Chaz Green is out for the year and at wide receiver where Andre Debose would have forced safeties to play an extra 10 yards off the ball to compensate for his speed. Additionally, there has been no one capable of replacing those four go the distance kickoff returns that Debose delivered the previous three seasons. Throw in the loss of Dominique Easley on the defensive side and it’s easy to see how Florida’s success equation has been seriously altered.


Wasn’t it only two months ago that Missouri coach Gary Pinkel was on everybody’s hottest seats in college football list? By midseason the buzzards were supposed to be circling in Columbia because Pinkel was dead man walking. Well, a funny thing happened on the way to firing day: Missouri went from feeding with the SEC catfish to swimming with the sharks. The Tigers are 6-0, ranked 14th nationally and already bowl eligible which has Pinkel off the hot seat and safe for at least one more season but there is still no shortage of skeptics who think the Tigers are living on borrowed time. As much as Florida needs to win Saturday’s game with Missouri to keep its SEC East Division title hopes alive, Missouri needs it to prove the skeptics wrong. Beat the Gators and perceptions will change.


After offering an unceremonious welcome to the Southeastern Conference to first year Arkansas coach Brett Bielma to the tune of an almost Fun ‘N’ Gun-like 52-7 margin, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier showed immeasurable empathy for his vanquished foe. “I do feel badly for Arkansas,” Spurrier said. “It’s no fun getting your butt beat like this … at home on homecoming and all that.” Classic Spurrier. We can take two things from the beatdown South Carolina issued: (1) Stevie Wonder has the Gamecocks picking up momentum and starting to click on all cylinders on both sides of the ball, which is not good news for the rest of the SEC East; and (2) the Razorbacks might finish the season on a nine-game losing streak. Bielma would have been smart to stay in the Big Ten.


Chairs on the podium in New York: (1) Marcus Mariota, Oregon; (2) Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M; (3) Tajh Boyd, Clemson; (4) Jameis Winston, Florida State; (5) Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville. On the standby list for a flight to New York: (1) Aaron Murray, Georgia; (2) Zach Mettenberger, LSU; (3) Todd Hundley, UCLA. Lifetime achievement candidate: A.J. McCarron, Alabama. The kid from nowhere: Bryce Petty, Baylor.


Florida State at Climpson (I know it’s spelled Clemson, but if you have ever heard one of their fans say it then you know there’s supposed to be a P in the middle) is more than just an elimination game for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship and a shot at the national title game, but it could be a Heisman Trophy elimination game between FSU’s super freshman Famous Jameis Winston and Climpson’s Tajh Boyd. It’s the big stage for both of the and the one that goes into a Heisman Coma, which is to say can’t do anything wrong and leads his team to a win, will join Marcus Mariota and Johnny Manziel as the Heisman frontrunners.


The selection committee for college football’s first playoff will be headed by Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long. If that is the best college football can do, then I’m concerned. Long’s an okay guy, but I’ve never been sold on him as one of the real bright lights in all of college sports. My choice would have been Jeremy Foley and not just because he’s Florida’s athletic director, but because he’s got a 22-year history of doing things the right way and understanding what it takes to win championships. I want the guy in charge of the playoff committee to really understand the blood, sweat and tears it takes to win a championship while staying within the rules. Jeff Long might be a rising star, but I don’t want a rising star. I want someone who’s been there and done that consistently over the years. That’s Foley. Not Jeff Long. My second choice would be Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione and my third choice would be outgoing Texas AD DeLoss Dodds. Since he’s retiring, DeLoss probably needs something to do.


I have no problems with former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice being on the selection committee nor do I have a problem with someone like former Air Force Academy Superintendent Michael Gould. Those are people of integrity, something I think the committee will need. My problem is that it is being reported that there will be 18 members on the committee. 18? Yikes! I think it’s hard enough to find consensus among 8-9 people much less 18.


Georgia has suspended football recruiting director Daryl Jones for five days for a number of NCAA violations that it hopes the NCAA and Southeastern Conference will classify as minor. Georgia says that Jones sent out mail to recruits a couple of days before an NCAA-allowed contact period, thinking that by the time prospects got the mailout it would be within the legal parameters. At least 12 prospects – and maybe more – got the mailout the next day. While I have no love for Georgia, it’s this kind of rule that tells you how badly the NCAA needs to scrap its recruiting handbook and start all over again. This rule, as most of the recruiting rules, is designed to “level the playing field” so that the have nots of college football can have an equal shot at the great recruits. The fact is the great players are going to go to the top programs and not to the ones that can’t afford to spend enough money on stamps to feed entire villages in the third world.


I still find it hard to believe that Eric Clapton’s first album of original material in almost 10 years – “Pilgrim” which was released in 1998 – was greeted with largely mediocre reviews. I’m not really sure what kind of dope the reviewers were on when they listened, but they were certainly on something. The entire album was about the lingering sadness that stayed with Clapton for years after the death of his son Conor in 1991. My favorite track on “Pilgrim” is “River of Tears.”


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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.