Thoughts of the day: October 30, 2013


This is one time that Will Muschamp’s use of the Cone of Silence (you remember this if you ever saw Get Smart) should meet with approval of the entire Gator Nation. Although Florida fans long for more information, personality and media ops for the head ball coach, this is Georgia week and he’s not about to give any hints about what transpired in practice during last week’s open date. Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease have talked openly about cleaning up the scheme and recommitting to the running game while making scarce mention of the passing game. We know that Kelvin Taylor is going to get more carries, but you don’t have to be a rocket surgeon or brain scientist to figure that out. The only thing Georgia can really prepare for is the same old, same old from the Gators so even slight changes could open things up for a big play or two.


Muschamp’s personality doesn’t lend itself to radical change, especially seven games into a season, but this is the perfect time to spring something new. It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen it from a Florida coach, either. Georgia in 1993 was not prepared for Florida to go smashmouth. In 1997, Spurrier alternated Doug Johnson and Noah Brindise at quarterback every play against Florida State. In 2002, Ron Zook took the downfield pass out of Florida’s arsenal to beat Georgia with a never-ending series of two-inch passes to Kelvin Kight and Carlos Perez to hand the Poodles their only loss of the season, costing them a shot at a national title. Given Florida’s very conservative nature under Muschamp, it’s hard to imagine the Gators going up-tempo or to some sort of wide open spread, but if Muschamp feels a hint of desperation, he might surprise us Saturday in Jacksonville. Better yet, surprise Georgia.


Barring something totally unforeseen, this will be a good day for Billy Donovan and Florida basketball as Devin Robinson (6-8, 190, Chesterfield, VA Christchurch School) is expected to announce he’ll be a Gator at 3:30. This is a superb job of recruiting by Donovan and his staff, who were thought to be trailing Indiana, Oklahoma State and UConn for the longest time. Robinson’s rise from nowhere to top 25 recruit coincides with a growth spurt. He was a skinny 6-5 guard a year ago. Now he’s a 6-8 combo forward who is still growing. Upside is off the charts.


This was an absolutely dreadful day at the Gator Bowl. A steady rain turned the field into a quagmire and there were large puddles accumulating all over the field. Long before the ball was kicked off, Erricht Rhett was doing somersaults into the puddles, which had the Georgia players stopping their warmups and watching in disbelief. It was so wet and slippery that Danny Wuerffel couldn’t grip the ball well in pregame so Steve Spurrier started Terry Dean at quarterback instead. The Gators threw only 21 passes that day, fewest in the Spurrier era up until that point in time. Instead of the Fun ‘n’ Gun, it became the three yards and a puddle of mud offense as the Gators rode Rhett’s school-record 41 carries, 183 yards and two touchdowns to a 33-26 win. On a 21-play touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, Rhett got the call 14 times as the Gators drove 80 yards to a touchdown. That’s a man, folks.


Despite Rhett’s heroics, the game came down to a heads up play by freshman cornerback Anthone Lott, who saw the Florida coaches frantically signaling for a time out with less than 20 seconds to go. Lott got the attention of the officials and got the time out from the side judge, whose whistle went unnoticed. Eric Zeier threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Jarman only to have it nullified by the timeout call. Zeier actually got two more shots at the end zone after that play. Lott got called for face guarding on the next play and that gave Georgia a first down at the Florida six with five seconds to go. On the final play, Jeff Thomas couldn’t haul in the pass. The Florida sideline erupted and Georgia coach Ray Goff looked to the skies as if to ask, “Why me, God? Why me?”


Every year at this time we have that same old argument what happens more than two college football teams finish the season undefeated? Since we don’t have a playoff yet (next year we start with four teams) it’s possible that we could end up with another awkward situation like we had in 2004 when Auburn went through the regular season and an SEC schedule unbeaten but had no chance to play for the championship since Southern Cal and Oklahoma ran the regular season table. There are eight teams remaining – Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Ohio State, Baylor, Miami, Fresno State and Northern Illinois – and while history says that number will be whittled down in the next month, can you imagine how many folks will be upset if the regular season and conference championship games end with Alabama, Oregon, Florida State or Miami (both from the ACC), Ohio State and Baylor standing without a blemish? Fresno and Northern Illinois can go unbeaten but have no chance to play for a national title, so think about it – seven unbeaten at the end? Couldn’t happen … could it?


Alabama (8-0) has three tests remaining: LSU, Auburn and the SEC Championship Game. Although everyone points at LSU, the team to watch is Auburn since that game will be played in Jordan-Hare Stadium … Oregon (8-0) has three difficult games remaining also – Stanford, Oregon State and then a possible rematch with UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship Game … Florida State (8-0) and Miami (7-0) put their unbeaten hopes on the line Saturday in Tallahassee. Florida State has the easier stretch run with only Florida in Gainesville as a serious obstacle. Miami has to play Virginia Tech and bowl-bound Duke. Plus there is the ACC Championship Game. Ohio State (8-0) could end up playing Michigan on consecutive weekends, the final game of the season at the Big House and then the next week at the Big 10 Championship Game. That schedule is the path of least resistance to unbeaten in the country … Baylor (7-0) still has to play Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas, the toughest stretch run remaining. Smart money says Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State run the table. I wouldn’t bet against Oregon although that game with Stanford is daunting. I think at least one team is crying foul at the end.


It’s supposed to be teach your children well, but not in the case of Nathan Creer, father of Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. While Nathan was slogging it out against Michigan State, dear old dad was working off his pregame buzz by getting into a physical altercation with five other fans. By the time the police arrived it was time to break out those lovely silver bracelets and haul Creer off to jail. Creer hasn’t been to court yet but he’s already been banned from the Illinois campus for a full year.


The first time I ever saw Elvis Costello perform was on late night TV on Tom Snyder’s “Tomorrow” show in which he played “Watch Your Step.” I always thought he was really good, but not great. I did like that he wasn’t afraid to experiment with country and other genres. Then he did “Painted from Memory,” a studio collaboration with Burt Bacharach in 1998, which totally changed my opinion about him forever. I never realized he had that kind of range and command of his lyrics. This is Elvis with Burt Bacharach for a song from that CD called “My Thief.”

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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.