Thoughts of the day: October 27, 2013


 It’s Georgia week and somehow I can’t shake the feeling that I’m living in the 1980s all over again. Back in those days, it didn’t matter if Florida had better talent or worse, Vince Dooley was going to find a way to beat the Gators, often under the most bizarre circumstances. The stars and planets aligned properly for the Gators from 1990-2010 as Florida went 18-3 against the hated Poodles (Steve Spurrier 11-1; Ron Zook 2-1; Urban Meyer 5-1) but that was then and this is now. Now the Gators and Will Muschamp have lost two in a row, both in Dooley-like fashion. Muschamp had the Poodles by the throat with a 17-3 lead in 2011 but Mark Richt dialed up a fourth down touchdown pass rather than go for the field goal at the end of the half and the Poodles went on to win, 24-20. Last year, the Gators turned the ball over five times and lost, 17-9. The two teams bring identical 4-3 records into next Saturday’s game. My heart says Florida breaks out of a slump and wins. The sour feeling in the pit of my stomach quotes Yogi Berra: “It’s de ja vu all over again.”


 Remember that show back in the 1970s when the late Lee Majors used to wow us with brilliant dialogue – “Right Oscar” and “What do you think, Oscar?” – in “The Six Million Dollar Man”? I always remember that opening line: “We can rebuild him.” Majors was on death’s door when he got $6 million worth of spare parts inserted into his body to turn him into a semi-Superman. It’s worth mentioning Majors and that show after Connor Shaw came off the bench late in the third quarter to lead 21st-ranked South Carolina (6-2, 4-2 SEC East) back from a 17-0 deficit to a 27-24 double overtime win over previously unbeaten and fifth-ranked Missouri (7-1, 3-1 SEC East). Shaw was knocked out of the Tennessee game with a sprained knee last week and he wasn’t supposed to play. Of course, this is the same Shaw who was knocked out of a game earlier in the year with a separated shoulder.  All he did in relief of Dylan Thompson was throw for 222 yards and three touchdowns including the one that sent the game into overtime with 42 seconds remaining in regulation. There are two possible explanations: Either Shaw has Benny Hinn on speed dial or they rebuilt him.


 Just when Missouri was starting to think it belongs in the SEC by going from 25th to 14th to fifth in the rankings in a three-week span, along come the Gamecocks to bring them back down from the stratosphere to Planet Earth. The Mizzou faithful will look back to Andrew Baggett’s missed 24-yard field goal that would have sent the game into a third overtime for years to come and do their best impersonation of figure skater Nancy Kerrigan after the Tanya Harding incident: “Whyyyyyyyyyyy mmmmmmeeeeee!!!!” This was nothing more than a long extra point but Baggett hooked it and it smacked off the wide left goal post giving an improbable win to Steve Spurrier, whose Gamecocks need wins over Mississippi State and Florida combined with another Missouri loss to win the SEC East.


Yes, Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC West) had that incredible catch by Dennis Norwood, some nifty moves by Christion Jones and even more by Kenyan Drake when the Crimson Tide freight trained Tennessee, 45-10, but those plays are simply window dressing. Watching Alabama win another game is about as exciting as watching giant tortoises in a dead sprint for the lettuce at the zoo. You want frills? Stay home and watch Baylor, Oregon or Texas A&M. With Missouri losing to South Carolina, Alabama is the only unbeaten team remaining in the SEC. It wouldn’t have mattered if Mizzou had run the regular season table and it really doesn’t matter who emerges out of the SEC East. There isn’t a team in the league capable of beating Alabama. Not this year, anyway.


 Florida State (8-0) remained unbeaten with an impressive 49-17 win over North Carolina State in which Jameis Winston threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns. Although North Carolina State is unranked, the win should keep the Seminoles in second place in the BCS standings albeit by a razor-thin margin after third-ranked Oregon outscored 12th-ranked UCLA 28-0 in the second half to take a 42-14 win in Eugene. Right behind the Quack Attack, which managed “only” 42 points and 555 yards, was fourth-ranked Ohio State (8-0), which dropped the hammer on Penn State, 63-14. The only way either Oregon or Ohio State can move past FSU is to stay unbeaten and win impressively even if it means running up the score.


Miami (7-0) stayed unbeaten with a great escape, come-from-behind, 24-21, win over Wake Forest to set up a game with national championship implications next Saturday in Tallahassee against second-ranked Florida State (8-0). Could this be Wide Right III? If you go back to the 1991 and 1992 seasons, Miami and FSU played two of the most memorable games of the decade and both of them were decided when FSU missed a field goal wide right. In 1991, the #1 Seminoles and #2 Miami were both unbeaten in late November but Miami won, 17-16, in what is known as Wide Right Bowl I when Gerry Thomas pushed a game-winning 34-yard field goal attempt wide right. Miami finished unbeaten and won the national championship. In 1992, FSU came into the game unbeaten and ranked #3 while Miami was unbeaten and ranked #2, looking to win a second straight national title. The Seminoles were trailing, 17-16, late in the fourth quarter when Corey Sawyer inexplicably fielded a at the FSU one, retreated into the end zone and then tried a forward pass, which resulted in a safety for a Miami, 19-16 lead. FSU had a chance to tie the game as the clock ran out but Dan Mowrey missed a 39-yard field goal wide right. Miami lost to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship.


 Will Charlie Weis survive the weekend? It’s a question that has to be asked after Kansas (2-5) was Baylored, 59-14, Saturday night in Lawrence. About the only good thing you can say about the Fighting Cheeseburgers is that they held eighth-ranked Baylor (7-0) below 60 points for only the second time this season. That might have something to do with the fact that Art Briles pulled the starters following the first series of the third quarter. At the half, Baylor had a 38-0 lead and 505 total yards. The Bears finished the night with 745. This was the fourth consecutive loss for Kansas, all by 10 points or more. It’s likely that the Cheeseburgers finish the year on a nine-game losing streak. The Countdown to Firing Day clock ticks.


For the second straight year, David Cutcliffe has Duke (6-2) bowl eligible. In beating #14 Virginia Tech, 13-10, Duke not only got its first win over a ranked team since 1994 but also qualified for a bowl in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history. Cutcliffe is a fine football coach. I still have a hard time understanding the reasoning behind Ole Miss firing him and hiring Coach O back in 2005, just one year removed from a 10-3 season and a Cotton Bowl win. I love Coach O, but he had no business getting his foot in the head coaching door at an SEC school. But, as dumb as it was to hire Coach O, it was even dumber for Ole Miss AD Pete Boone to fire Cutcliffe.


I started listening to David Sanborn when I first read about how he started playing the saxophone to strengthen his diaphragm muscles after a childhood bout with polio. If you grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, then you remember the polio scare so you can probably relate to such a story. I heard some of Sanborn’s work when he played with Paul Butterfield in the early 1970s, but it wasn’t until I bought the “Heart to Heart” album in 1978 that I really started listening to his music. His brand of sax probably doesn’t satisfy a lot of jazz purists but I’ve always found it good listening. This is “Lotus Blossom” from the “Heart to Heart” CD. I had a hard time selecting it over “Anywhere I Wander” and the first track called “Solo.”


Previous articleOne-year plan still works for Billy D
Next articleIt’s time to “Burn the boats!”
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.