Thoughts of the day: September 27, 2013


With a brand new quarterback taking the snaps at UF, figure Kentucky coach Mike Stoops is going to go exotic to try to confuse Tyler Murphy at the line of scrimmage. Stoops’ history is a heavy blitz package which means Murphy is going to have to make quick decisions and get the ball out of his hands in a hurry. The receiver who could benefit the most from what Kentucky does defensively is Solomon Patton. He’s got the quickness to avoid the jam at the line and he’s the best the Gators have at maneuvering through traffic. Against a heavy blitz package there’s nothing better than a receiver who can get you yards after catch and that’s what Patton could bring to the field for the Gators Saturday.


South Carolina plays at UCF Saturday in a 12 noon game that UCF hopes will launch the Knights into the top 25. UCF is 2-14 all time against the SEC with the wins over a bad Alabama team in 2000 and an even worse Georgia team in the Liberty Bowl in 2008. The Chickens come into this game ranked #12 nationally and with 30 wins in the last three years so a win for UCF might go down as the most important in school history. Don’t think for a second this will be lost on Steve Spurrier, who has lost only one game to a non-SEC school since 2010. A loss to a school that was his country cousin back in his UF days would be a bit of an embarrassment.


That’s probably what you could call LSU, which will probably beat Georgia Saturday night in Athens with healthy contributions from quarterback Zach Mettenberger and tailback Jeremy Hill. Mettenberger, if you remember, started at Georgia but got kicked off the team before he ever played a game because, among other things, he was convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery for groping the butt and breasts of a 20-year-old woman one night in a bar when he was drinking underage. Mettenberger has been a model citizen since and he’s playing his way into a high pick in next year’s NFL Draft. Among Hill’s transgressions are carnal knowledge of a 16-year-old and sucker punching someone outside a Baton Rouge bar. For the sexual escapade, Hill got a misdemeanor and probation. For the sucker punch, which was caught on film, another misdemeanor thanks to a Baton Rouge judge who just so happens to be an LSU booster.


The issues with Mettenberger and Hill aren’t the first wayward kids who have found refuge at LSU under Miles. Jordan Jefferson was reinstated to the team after participating in a rather serious bar brawl. Tyrann Matthieu was a multiple offender for failed drug tests before he finally ran out of chances and who knows how many sins were on Ryan Perrilloux’s card before the mutual parting of the ways. If you want a second or third chance, Les seems to be your guy. While opponents’ fans scream that Les doesn’t have any scruples, parents of recruits seem to love the idea that if their kid screws up in Baton Rouge, they’ve got a friend in Les.


There is a fine line for coaches when dealing with kids either with a troubled past or a recent history of doing something stupid. The coaches are paid to win and if the kid can help win, I’m sure it greases the skids when giving the kid another chance. After all, how many jobs are out there that pay a couple million a year? And, if a kid with troubles can you win … it’s just too tempting. Not every coach gives second and third chances because of the pressure to win. I know quite a few who have a streak of Mother Teresa in them and they really do believe that if they don’t help the kid it might end up badly with jail time somewhere down the road. Furthering the dilemma is when the coach refuses a second chance. Zach Mettenberger, for instance, got booted from Georgia, went to juco and now is at LSU where he has not only been a model citizen, but he’s turned into a pretty spiffy QB who could light up Georgia’s secondary Saturday evening.


In an hour-long conversation I had with Bobby Bowden a few weeks before my mentor, Jack Hairston, died, (Jack and Bobby were friends) we talked about some of the perceptions about him, among them that he was so determined to win more games than Joe Paterno that he compromised his ethics by giving extra chances to wayward players. He bristled at that mention. “I made promises to a lot of mamas and daddies that I would treat their boy like he was mine,” Bobby told me. “You give your own boy extra chances. You don’t stop lovin’ him because he did something bad. At some point, you do have to cut ‘em loose and say you’ve run out of chances. I think a bunch of ‘em will tell you they ran out of chances with me. I think a bunch of ‘em finally figured it out and turned their lives around. Those guys … they were always worth it.”


There will be no EA Sports NCAA football game next year. That’s because EA Sports has pulled the game after agreeing to settle with Ed O’Bannon, whose class action lawsuit against the video game company will have a ripple affect across the college sports landscape. For years, EA Sports used the images of college players on its game.  The schools got their cut but the players whose images were used didn’t get a dime. That’s about to change. Who should be trembling now is the NCAA. EA Sports couldn’t have used those images without NCAA approval. If this goes to court, the NCAA will have to pony up big time and every player whose image has been used over the years will be compensated. This promises to end badly for the NCAA.


Probably the best news I’ve heard about Major League Baseball in years came today when Bud “Lite” Selig announced his retirement effective after the 2014 season. The spin will be that Bud Lite oversaw record attendance and higher revenues. I’ll remember him for drug scandals, which he conveniently overlooked until forced to deal with them and for the cancellation of the 1994 World Series. I have always believed that the two worst things to happen to Major League Baseball in the last 25 years are the death of Bart Giamatti and Bud Selig becoming commissioner. Unfortunately, I’m afraid the owners will ram through another commissioner like Selig, which means another yes man.


One of the two or three best concerts I’ve ever been to involved The Pat Metheny Group. If you’ve never been to one of their concerts, you have really missed something. Typically, they play for three hours, taking only five-minute breaks after the first and second sets. The rest is the most innovative music on the planet. Pat is such a guitar virtuoso that when he went to the University of Miami he was made a full professor of music midway through his first semester on campus. He was 19. That was nearly 40 years ago. He’s been making music ever since. This song is called “Full Circle” which is one of those songs that has to be played or else the concert isn’t complete. Please note that the singers sing notes, not words. The keyboard player is Lyle Mays, who has been with Pat since the beginning.

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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. Yeah, Pat Metheny, freaking brilliant. I love New Chatauqua, listened to that when I was in school back in the late 70’s. Hope Driskel heals okay. Murphy…the kid just needs to step into a major programs leadership role and return the program to SEC glory. Doable. Actually love the kid. Patton…time to break out the ole Billy Baroule….I bet we have a few other kids that will be compelled to have breakout years as well in support of our new leader. Go Gators. Welcome Back Franz

    • Pat Metheny is brilliant. I’ve seen him in concert numerous times and have never gone away disappointed.

      I think Murphy is the right kid at the right time. We’ll know better come Saturday night, but I liked that he was unflappable against Tennessee.