Thoughts of the Day: September 11, 2013

1. WHERE WERE YOU ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001?: Do you remember where you were and what you were doing? I had returned from a three-mile early morning walk and I was eating breakfast when there was a news flash that a plane had struck the World Trade Center in New York. Within a couple of minutes, every network on every channel was showing the north tower of the WTC engulfing in flames. As I watched and wondered how a pilot could have made such a drastic error to veer off the landing path to Kennedy Airport, I saw the second plane approaching. In that instant I knew this was no pilot error although I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on.

2. AS THE MORNING PROGRESSED: Numbed by the two planes hitting the Twin Towers of the WTC, I was further shocked by word that the Pentagon had been hit by a plane and that a fourth plane had crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. I guess I was like a lot of Americans who never really thought something like this would happen in our country. The US was officially at war that day, a war that is still going on. Lives changed on 9/11. I don’t know anyone who was alive that day who hasn’t been affected and isn’t continually affected by what happened.

3. THE GATORS LOST A SHOT AT A NATIONAL TITLE: The Gators were set to play Tennessee in Gainesville that weekend, but because flights were grounded in the aftermath of the 9/11 the game was postponed until the first Saturday night in December. Had that game been played on its regularly scheduled time, I believe Florida would have blown the doors off the Vols. I have yet to talk to a college coach – whether a Florida staffer or otherwise – who thinks differently. The Vols got progressively stronger with each week of the season and faced a Florida team in December that was without Earnest Graham. The Gators finished that season – the last in the 12-year run of Steve Spurrier as the UF head coach – at 10-2 and both losses were games that Earnest Graham missed. Graham was healthy back in September and Tennessee hadn’t discovered its running game yet.

4. DON’T BLAME DRISKEL FOR THAT SECOND INTERCEPTION: Talking today to a former UF wide receiver who is still well connected to the program, Jeff Driskel has been unfairly blamed for the second interception. “That was a catchable ball,” he said. “When I first saw it, I thought Driskel was trying to throw the ball away, but when I watched it again, the ball was zinged but it was right there. If Trey Burton looks up, he catches the football and it’s a first down.” When told that Burton admitted he ran the wrong route, the comment was, “Well that explains why you had two receivers too close to each other and why Miami had a small space overloaded with DBs. Either way, the interception was not Jeff’s fault. He threw a catchable ball that should have been a first down.”

5. INJURY REPORT: Although there has been no official report on injuries from the Florida coaching staff since there is no media access this week, I’m hearing from different sources that both D.J. Humphries (sprained MCL) and Tyler Moore (ankle) should be good to go for the Tennessee game on September 21. The status for right guard Jon Halapio is a little bit cloudier. He’s got a torn pectoral muscle and while it is hoped he will be back for Tennessee, I keep hearing that it might be Kentucky or LSU before it happens. Both Marcus Roberson (strained knee) and Loucheiz Purifoy (back) are expected to practice at full speed next week and play against UT.

6. ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END: Butch Jones has discovered love like he never knew at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. Tennessee fans are in a mild state of euphoria after starting the season with wins over Austin Peay and Western Kentucky. They get a jolt of reality Saturday when they travel to Oregon to face the mighty Ducks, who are 27-1/2 point favorites. Jones might be a very fine football coach, but there is absolutely nothing he can do to prepare his team for the likes of Marcus Mariotta and DeAnthony Thomas. Maybe Jones can simulate the Oregon tempo in practice, but there is nothing he can do to simulate the speed. And, Mariotta and Thomas aren’t even the fastest Ducks.

7. OKIE STATE HIT WITH SERIOUS ALLEGATIONS: Sports Illustrated began a 5-part series today about improprieties within the Oklahoma State football program dating all the way back to 2001-04 when current LSU coach Les Miles was the head man in Stillwater. Among the SI claims: Some players got as much as $10,000 under the table; tutors took online courses for players; drugs were abused and school officials ignored it; and a few of the football program’s recruiting hostesses routinely had sex with recruits. While SI says that Miles and current coach Mike Gundy have not been implicated in any of these allegations, you have to wonder how they could be around on a day-to-day basis and not know what was going on.

8. THIS COULD ACTUALLY HAPPEN: Jim Tressell, the fired Ohio State coach who is in the third year of a 5-year show cause from the NCAA, is the Vice President for Student Success at the University of Akron where he also teaches a “Principles of Coaching” course. Apparently, he’s also under serious consideration to become the next president of the University of Akron. Since the NCAA is actually run by the presidents of its member institutions, I have to wonder how that good old boy network of PhD’s would react to a football coach joining the club and how NCAA President Mark Emmert would feel about the organization’s version of a convicted felon in a position of power.

MUSIC FOR TODAY: Back when the Motown Sound was a powerful force in American music The Funk Brothers were the best band you never heard of. If you’ve heard The Temptations, Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Four Tops and some of those other great Motown groups, then you’ve heard The Funk Brothers. Well, they’re still around. On this video they team with the great Joan Osborne with a remake of the old Jimmy Ruffin hit, “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.”

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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.