Thoughts of the day: December 18, 2013

A few thoughts to jump start your Wednesday morning.


Florida’s fabulous freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III capped off a brilliant first season of college football Tuesday by being named third team All-American by the Associated Press. Hargreaves is that rare talent who came to school ready to play from day one and proved on the field that he was more than up to the hype. Looking back on his freshman year, there weren’t many times when he was fooled and there wasn’t a single game in which he looked ill-prepared to play.


There is a reason Mike Novell has quietly removed his name from the Florida offensive coordinator search. He has interviewed for the vacant Arkansas State job and there is a lot of sentiment that he will get it. Norvell is a graduate of Central Arkansas, the same school that produced Charlie Strong, and a protégé of Gus Malzahn, the Auburn coach who was the head man for one year Arkansas State two years ago. Arkansas State paid Bryan Harsin $850,000 but he left for Boise State after one season. Harsin had to pay Arkansas State $1.75 million to buy out his contract, money that will be used to offer Norvell or whoever lands the Arkansas State job a $1 million per year contract. If Norvell doesn’t get the Arkansas State job, Arizona State head man Todd Graham is planning to make Norvell a reworked contract for at least $800,000.


North Carolina offensive coordinator Blake Anderson was also on Florida’s A list just a week ago. Like Norvell, he has interviewed for the vacant Arkansas State job and if Norvell doesn’t get it, there is a very good chance Anderson will. UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone supposedly has withdrawn his name from consideration at Florida and taken a $125,000 a year raise to remain in Los Angeles. Tim Beck of Nebraska, who was also thought to be on the Florida A list, makes $700,000 a year so he might be too pricey, considering Florida just paid Brent Pease a $1.2 million contract buyout.


Right now it would appear that USC interim head coach Clay Helton could be the last man standing. He will not be retained by new coach Steve Sarkisian so he will be jobless after Southern Cal faces Fresno State in Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl so he is very available. While certainly not Florida’s first choice, Will Muschamp cannot afford to have an open offensive coordinator job beyond January 1 for recruiting purposes. In particular, Miami Central stud Dalvin Cook will announce his college decision at the Under Armour All-American Game in St. Petersburg on January 2 and the Gators chances to land this difference-maker will be hurt if there isn’t an offensive coordinator in place.


Now, who would have thought that possible a couple of years ago when Prather seemed so eager to play that he was a turnover looking for a place to happen? The wild, out of control Prather has been replaced by a calm, calculating senior who understands how to pick and choose his moments. For the second straight game, it was Prather’s free throws that provided the margin of victory for the Gators. He went 10-12 a week ago in a win over Kansas and Tuesday night he was 6-6 in Florida’s 77-75 against Memphis at Madison Square Garden, part of a 22-point effort. Prather has scored 20 or more points four times in Florida’s first 10 games and he already has more points (187) this season than he had in 29 games last year (181). In spite of riding the pine his first two years before emerging as a sixth man last season, Prather has never lost confidence and never once considered transferring out. He is a testament to patience and self-confidence. 


This started out as idle chatter but a lot of people who know Jimbo Fisher say that he really is seriously looking at the Texas job. There is no question that Texas is looking seriously at Fisher. Why would Fisher would leave FSU after a season in which he has the Seminoles in the national championship game with a Heisman Trophy quarterback returning next season along with 35 others on the 44-man two-deep? The answer might be in the lack of haste to extend his contract and raise his pay to $4.25 million. Texas is likely to offer $6 million.


In addition to Fisher, the most prominent name being heard is Baylor coach Art Briles but Briles just signed a 10-year extension that starts at more than $4 million a year and next season Baylor moves to a brand new state of the art stadium that will make it that more attractive for potential recruits. Beyond Fisher and Briles, the name Urban Meyer has surfaced as a potential target. Had the Texas job opened up at the same time Ohio State did a couple of years ago, there is no question that Meyer would have leapt at the job in Austin. Sporting News mentioned Mark Richt’s name, but he’s another one I can’t imagine going anywhere. I think he will be at Georgia until he retires. One name that should get everyone’s attention is Vanderbilt coach James Franklin. If he can take Vandy to three straight bowl games, imagine what he could do with the money, facilities and resources of Texas. If I were the guy doing the hiring at Texas, that’s who I would be focused on.


Jeremy Mincey, waived last week by the Jacksonville Jaguars, passed his physical and was signed by the Denver Broncos Tuesday. It’s a second chance for Mincey, whose production has fallen off considerably and whose attitude went south since signing a four-year deal front loaded with $9 million last season. While he won’t make nearly the money he made with the Jaguars, it’s a chance for Mincey to get his head together for one last shot of getting into the playoffs and perhaps earning a Super Bowl ring.



If you’ve followed the career of The Doobie Brothers, then it’s like two bands sharing the same name. The Doobies of the early to mid-1970s were Tom Johnston’s band, the band of choice of the Hells Angels. When Johnston got sick, the band had contracts for a couple of albums and didn’t have its creative genius to write the music so The Doobies turned to Michael McDonald, who played keyboards and sang background vocals for Steely Dan on three albums including “Aja.” With McDonald, the Doobies went to a more soulful sound until 1982 when they disbanded. The Doobies have reunited at least four times since but they were at their best from 1970-82. This is “It Keeps You Running” from the years when McDonald was the face of the band.

Previous articleGators escape Garden party with win
Next articleCowart names Florida his new leader
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.