Thoughts of the Day: September 23, 2013


By playing so well in the first meaningful game he’s ever appeared in during his three-plus years at the University of Florida, Tyler Murphy has set a rather high bar for himself moving forward. Perhaps Murphy has hit the ground running and will only get better. That should be the hope of every Florida fan, but is that realistic? We have to expect there will be bumps in the road for Murphy and that he’s going to have to play his way through some tough times ahead, but he does have the advantage of this being his fourth year on the team. He’s been in all the big stadiums in the SEC and gone through the routines you go through both home and on the road, so he shouldn’t be awestruck by anything moving forward.


The good news for Murphy his first road start will be in Lexington against Kentucky, which hasn’t beaten the Gators in 27 years and isn’t going to break the streak this year. This is a team the Gators will beat as long as the defense remembers to show up. Kentucky will play hard and  might even be better than last year (Gators won, 38-0, in Gainesville) but the Mildcats aren’t going to be able to move the football against Florida’s defense. Murphy simply has to remember that he doesn’t have to win games, just manage them and don’t give them away by turning the ball over. The defense will do all the heavy lifting for him. All he has to do is stay within himself.


Will Muschamp’s football philosophy is play great defense, win the field position game with the kicking game and don’t take unnecessary risks offensively. Now that he’s had three recruiting classes to stock up on talent, Muschamp can go into any game knowing that as long as the Gators don’t give the ball away constantly, they have a realistic chance to win. Here is the big question that we won’t know until Saturday: Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease play it closer to the vest than usual because Murphy is (a) a brand new starter and (b) there isn’t a backup who has ever taken a snap? Or will he look at the Tennessee game as Murphy’s baptism by fire and cut him loose as if he’s been the starter all along?


Now, I realize that unlike the federal government, college football operates in the real world and the Division IAA teams have to balance their budgets or they have to drop football, which is why we have paycheck games. When FAMU traveled to Columbus this past Saturday, the Rattlers were guaranteed $900,000 to take a severe beating (76-0) from Ohio State. That paycheck probably covers room, board and tuition for every scholarship athlete at FAMU, but there has to be a better way to take care of the brethren in the lower divisions without cheapening Division I. Yes, I know that Appalachian State beat Michigan and Herbie says that North Dakota State could beat half the teams in Division I, but the Division I product is diminished with games like that. As much money as the networks spend on football, you would think they would (a) demand more games between the power conferences and (b) to ensure they got what they wanted, find a way to distribute some of that money to the lower divisions.


Alabama would still be #1 because they are the champs the last two years and until someone beats them they deserve to be #1, but at this moment I’m not sure that the best team in the country is Oregon. Anyway, my top ten would be: (1) Alabama; (2) Oregon; (3) Ohio State; (4) LSU; (5) Clemson; (6) Stanford; (7) Louisville; (8) Texas A&M; (9) Georgia; (10) Florida State. My #11-25 would be: (11) South Carolina; (12) UCLA; (13) Oklahoma; (14) Oklahoma State; (15) Miami; (16) UCLA; (17) Florida; (18) Washington; (19) Ole Miss; (20) Baylor; (21) Northwestern; (22) Fresno State; (23) Texas Tech; (24) Michigan; (25) Notre Dame.


After getting hosed by Maryland, 37-0, West Virginia fans are wondering whatever happened to that offensive genius they hired as their head coach? Last season the Mountaineers were undefeated through their first five games before the bottom dropped out and they lost five in a row and six of their final eight games. The Mountaineers are 2-2 this season with one of those wins over D1AA William and Mary and the other over Georgia State, which should still be in D1AA. In their four games the Mounties have scored 24 and 41 in those two wins, but only seven at West Virginia and a donut this past Saturday against Maryland. WVU hired Holgerson because he’s supposed to be an offensive guru. He might get fired after this season if he can’t rekindle some excitement. He’s barely tolerable as a human being when he’s winning. If he’s losing and the team lacks excitement, there isn’t a lot of reason to keep him around.


The argument has always been that if the sit out one year rule was eliminated it would create the equivalency of free agency in college sports. But, with the NCAA ruling that some kids can play immediately after transferring because their daddy gets fired (yes, that happened at Central Michigan with Trey Ziegler) and others have to sit out a year, the situation is borderline ridiculous. Duke coach Mike Kryzyzewski believes that everyone should have to sit out a year with no exceptions, but is it fair that scholarships are one-year, renewable at the pleasure of the head coach, and if a kid’s scholarship isn’t renewed he has to sit out? I have always thought a fairer idea would be that every kid gets a chance to transfer after his freshman year, then if he wants to transfer after that he should sit. I’ve also heard it suggested that the kid should be free to transfer any time during his first two years, then would be required to sit if he transferred after that.


The only reason the Jacksonville Jaguars stayed within four touchdowns of the Seattle Seahawks Sunday was that Pete Caroll pulled Russell Wilson with 5:18 to go in the third quarter. Seattle totally dominated the Jags, who are unquestionably the worst franchise in the National Football League. They already put tarps over sections of the upper deck at the Gator Bowl (I refuse to call it by whatever bank bought the rights to it) because they can’t sell all the seats and it’s only going to get worse. Figure the owner will do what most NFL owners do and threaten to move the team somewhere else, but moving won’t make the team any better. To do that they have to have players and coaches capable of winning in the NFL. A plan to succeed would help, too. Right now all of those things are in short supply.


I first got into Boz Scaggs when he was the lead singer for the Steve Miller band back in the late 1960s. “Living in the USA” got me hooked on Steve Miller and also on Boz Scaggs, so when Boz went solo, I followed his career. I saw him recently over in Jacksonville as part of his “Memphis” tour. If you haven’t heard the Memphis CD, I highly recommend it. My favorite Boz Scaggs song of all time is his remake of the old Joe Simon song, “Drowning in the Sea of Love.” The best version of this song was when Boz was doing vocal work for Donald Fagen’s New York Rock and Soul Revue in the early 1990s.

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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.


  1. Franz, all about Jags is true…… but the tarp cut was unfair…..the covered seating makes the stadium the normal seating capacity of most NFL stadiums…actual 2012 attendance, surprisingly, is higher than several NFL teams (20th out of 32) including Tampa and Miami.