Thoughts of the day: September 24, 2013


There really wasn’t any pressure Saturday when Tyler Murphy came off the bench Saturday to lead the Gators past Tennessee, 31-17. Had he played poorly or just well enough for the Gators to get by, everybody would have blamed it on the fact that he hadn’t played a significant snap in a game during his previous three seasons in Gainesville. Now that he’s capable of playing at a very high level, Murphy is about to understand what pressure is all about. He’s already had to handle the media and there will be more interview requests from the networks as the week moves on and now he’s taking most of the reps in practice. All backup quarterbacks say they prepare for a game just like they were going to start but it really is different when they actually have to do it. Even though it’s SEC bottom feeder Kentucky that Murphy has to prepare for this week, it’s a whole different ball game. We’ll learn a lot about Murphy Saturday night in Lexington.


When the season began, Clowney was everybody’s choice to be the national defensive player of the year, but he’s battled a stomach virus and bone spurs in his feet while getting off to a not so sensational start. That’s opened the door wide for Florida’s Dominique Easley to step into the national limelight. Right now, you can’t name a more disruptive defensive player in the country. While he may not have a ton of sacks of other measurable stats, all you have to do is watch the amount of attention he gets on every play. By occupying at least two and sometimes three players on every snap, Easley is creating big plays for teammates. If they keep a Guinness World Record for most times being held without it being flagged, Easley will set a mark that might not ever be broken. Shame on that SEC officiating crew headed up by Matt Moore, which stood by idly Saturday and watched as Tennessee’s offensive line spent the whole day blatantly holding Easley.


Everybody remembers Florida’s 24-20 win over Kentucky in Lexington for Mick Hubert’s hysterical “Doering’s got a touchdown! Doering’s got a touchdown!” call from the radio booth. Few remember is the seven interceptions that Terry Dean and Danny Wuerffel combined to throw before Wuerffel hooked up with Chris Doering for the game-winner with three seconds to go in the game. Even fewer remember that Doering actually dropped two passes on the game-winning drive before Wuerffel hit him with the 28-yarder with three seconds left that won the game. Here is a replay of the drive that turned both Wuerffel and Doering into legitimate Florida legends.


Kickers don’t get chosen Rookie of the Year in the NFL but the way Caleb Sturgis is going so far they might have to make an exception to that unwritten rule. Through his first three games in the league he is 8-8 on extra points and 6-6 on field goals, 3-3 beyond 40 yards and 2-2 on attempts 50 and beyond. Thunderfoot was good from 46 and 50 yards Sunday in the Dolphins’ 27-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons. The Dolphins have quietly gotten off to a 3-0 start, the best beginning to a season that they have had in years.


Georgia coach Mark Richt has a well-deserved reputation as one of the nice guys in college football. After they had their own children, Richt and his wife adopted a couple of Russian orphans. He’s involved in dozens of charity projects throughout the state of Georgia and never hesitates to share his faith when asked. This week, Richt decided his secretary needed a week of paid vacation, quite a gesture considering the Poodles are about to play their toughest game of the season Saturday when LSU comes to town. Richt’s secretary? Tammy Mettenberger, mom of Zach Mettenberger, the LSU quarterback.


Even the most powerful hurricanes start with a gust of wind circulating. Think of the dozen or so players at Georgia and Georgia Tech who wore APU (All Players United) written on their wrist tape with a Sharpie this past Saturday as the first gust of wind. It’s going to gain circulation and it’s going to start strengthening very, very soon. What is All Players United? That is an organization of college athletes that could very well be the undoing of the NCAA in the long haul. APU has joined with athletes who are suing the NCAA over its concussion/trauma policies and has joined in support of the Ed O’Bannon case, which scares the NCAA to the point that it is desperately trying to delay the trial. About 12 players had APU written on their wrist tape last week. Expect that number to mushroom very soon. The NCAA is in deepest and darkest folks and it might be too late for the organization to do anything about it.


At a meeting of 100 faculty athletics reps Monday, NCAA President Mark Emmert said, “I’ve said publicly on a number of occasions the only thing everybody agrees on with Division I governance is that it doesn’t work.” No kidding! This is a broken organization that is like a ship without a rudder or a sail, just drifting on the water. Unless the NCAA finds the courage to dump Emmert soon and bring on someone capable of real leadership, the NCAA as we know it now is going to cease to exist.


My grandmother always warned me that throughout life I would encounter people with more money than brains. Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder fit into that category. So does Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones, who was involved in a brawl on a Washington to Baltimore party bus. Jones, who is rehabbing a knee injury suffered in the Ravens first game of the season, got conked over the head by a stripper wielding a champagne bottle. Jones makes $3 million a year, which is more than enough to pick better company.


You might think you’ve never heard of John Hiatt, but if you’ve listened to folks like Bob Dylan, Lyle Lovett, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, Jimmy Buffett, Jewel, Keith Urban and Three Dog Night, then it’s very likely you’ve heard them sing one of the songs he’s written. Hiatt concerts absolutely kick because you’re likely to hear rock in its purest form, country, blues, new wave and alternative before you leave the place exhausted from moving with the music. This is one of my favorite Hiatt songs. It’s “Memphis in the Meantime.”

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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. Why are you writing nice stuff about Mark Richt? You are disrupting my hateful thoughts. Are you suggesting that there is life beyond the sidelines?

    Actually, it is nice to know a little bit beyond the media flack that surrounds these guys. They are obscenely compensated in $$, but they and their families, especially their families, pay a high price and do deserve to have lives outside the spotlight. I will look on Richt a little more kindly until he rolls into Jacksonville.

    You skewered two of my favorites. Jones and Snyder prove my personal adage that wealth is not always. perhaps seldom, deserved.