Thoughts of the day: October 31, 2013


There are a couple of theories about how to get Florida’s offense untracked against Georgia. One is to get the running game established early and keep feeding the ball to Kelvin Taylor. In his remarkable high school career, Taylor got stronger and better as the game moved on, so getting him some early momentum could pay handsome dividends in the third and fourth quarters. Another thought is to reverse the trend of running to establish the pass. Since Georgia is going to stack the line expecting the Gators to run first, Florida might be able to find some success by getting Tyler Murphy into an early rhythm throwing off a two or three-step drop to Solomon Patton and Trey Burton, Florida’s best at picking up yards after the catch. It will be imperative for the Gators to get the ball out of Murphy’s hands early because Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is enamored with the blitz. Whatever decision the Gators make, they have to make sure that they have manageable down and distance on second and third downs.


Every defensive plan always begins with stuffing the run but it has never been so important for the Gators as it will be Saturday. Georgia will have Todd Gurley back for the first time in a month and if he gets going in the running game, Georgia has a hammer to go with the vertical passing game. Aaron Murray does his best work off play action, so stuffing the run will have the dual effect of taking away what Murray does best.


Having landed hybrid forward Devin Robinson (6-8, 190, Chesterfield, VA Christchurch School) as the third member of his 2014 basketball recruiting class on Wednesday, Billy Donovan has a chance to pull off another big coup on Thursday when top 25 talent Kevon Looney (6-9, 200, Milwaukee, WI Hamilton) makes his announcement. Looney will choose between Florida, Duke, Tennessee, UCLA and Michigan State. Looney was thought to be a Duke lock until the Blue Devils turned their attention to Reid Travis (6-8, 240, Minneapolis, MN De LaSalle) in an effort to lock up a package deal that includes Tyus Jones (6-1, 175, Apple Valley, MN) and Jahlil Okafor (6-11, 270, Chicago, IL Whitney Young). Now, experts such as Jeff Borzello of CBS and Paul Biancardi of ESPN think Looney is going to pass on Duke. Borzello thinks Looney calls it for Florida while Biancardi thinks Tennessee will win out. If Looney doesn’t choose Duke, I think he will be a Gator. We’ll know at noon.


Some would argue that this 10-7 loss was the beginning of the end for Doug Dickey as the Florida football coach. The Gators came into this game with a 7-1 record, winners of six straight games since a shocking, 8-7, loss to Lou Holtz and North Carolina State in Raleigh. The week before, the Gators had blown the doors off of Auburn, 31-14, at Jordan-Hare. Georgia was a shaky 6-2 having held on to beat Richmond, 28-24, the week before in Athens. Florida had better athletes and an overwhelming advantage in speed. About the only thing that could stop the Gators that day was the weather. And it rained. And rained. And rained some more. There were puddles all over the field and where there wasn’t a puddle, the turf was slippery. Florida’s wishbone was slowed to a halt because the Gators couldn’t turn the corner on the option pitches.


Florida held a precarious 7-3 lead midway through the fourth quarter when Georgia rand an end around pass with tight end Richard Appleby throwing deep to Richard Washington. Washington got single coverage from Henry Davis, who hadn’t given up a touchdown pass all year, but as Washington streaked down the east sideline at the Gator Bowl, Davis stepped in a puddle and broke stride. That was all Washington needed to make the catch and go in for an 80-yard touchdown. Florida still had a chance to win the game. The Gators drove down the field behind Don Gaffney throwing to Wes Chandler, but once inside the 25, Dickey pretty much played for a field goal. David Posey, who hadn’t missed all year, didn’t have a chance. His plant foot slid in the mud and the kick wasn’t close. After the game, Dickey tried to explain his decision with that infamous quote, “Before you win you have to avoid losing.” Florida fans thought Dickey avoided winning that day.


Multiple outlets are reporting that West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck will be the new athletic director at Texas, taking over for DeLoss Dodds, perhaps as early as mid-November. By moving quickly to hire Luck, Texas president Bill Powers is taking the difficult decision of what to do about Mack Brown out of the hands of the AD who brought Brown to Texas in the first place. Although Brown has won four straight Big 12 games and could actually take the conference championship, the UT faithful are nowhere near convinced that the program will continue to move forward without a new coach. It’s probably a good strategy by Texas to bring on Luck. If he sticks with Brown, everyone can say he’s giving the benefit of the doubt and allowing Mack a chance to leave with dignity. If he fires Brown, everyone will say that he’s the new AD and he’s got to have the chance to sink or swim with his own guy.


Carl Pelini took all the guesswork out of the coaching situation at Florida Atlantic Wednesday. When the week began, the raging question in Boca Raton was whether Pelini would get a third year as FAU’s head football coach, but Pelini and his defensive coordinator couldn’t resist taking a few hits when a doobie was passed their way at a recent social gathering. When confronted by the AD, Pelini admitted that he’d partaken of the heathen devil weed and offered up his resignation.


The Boston Red Sox won the World Series by taking game six from the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday night. I wish I could say that I spent six nights riveted to my TV watching but I hardly paid attention for two reasons. First, baseball just isn’t as important to me as it once was and hasn’t been since the players went on strike back in the 1990s and they cancelled the World Series one year. When a bunch of spoiled millionaires (players) and billionaires (owners) can’t sit down in the offseason and work out their differences then there is something seriously wrong. Second, I’m a Yankees fan. It would be pure sacrilege for me to be happy the Red Sox won the World Series.


As a longtime listener of Boz Scaggs, I’ve enjoyed his musical journey, which started in the 1960s as the lead singer for The Steve Miller Band and has continued into the 1990s when he’s back to his blues roots with his “Memphis” CD. Boz and Steve Miller were high school buddies who later went on to attend the University of Wisconsin. After two albums (“Children of the Future” and “Sailor”) Boz broke out on his own and with the help of Rolling Stone publisher Jan Wenner got a contract to record on Atlantic Records. In 1968, Boz collaborated with Duane Allman for “Loan Me a Dime,” which, although it never achieved great commercial success, has become a blues classic.

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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.