Thoughts of the day: February 19, 2014

A few thoughts to jump start your Wednesday morning. 


 Here are two questions that will have to be answered during the 15 days in March and April that the Gators are allowed to practice: (1) Will Muschamp would prefer to run a 3-4 as his base defense, but for a 3-4 to be effective you have to have a nose tackle who can handle two gaps and force a double team. Do the Gators have a nose tackle who is both big enough and quick enough to get the job done? (2) Will Kurt Roper unleash Valdez Showers? It seemed that every time he touched the ball last year he was electric, even on the plays that didn’t gain a lot of yardage. He is extremely quick and can catch the ball. He could be that hybrid guy who plays both the slot and tailback.


Nobody doubted that Jeremy Hill was as talented as any running back in the SEC last season. Nobody doubted that he was a walking, ticking time bomb, either. It should be calmer in the LSU camp with Hill gone but can freshman Leonard Fournette, the #1 running back prospect in the nation, give the Tigers the tough yards that Hill always seemed to get? Hill was one of those backs who seemed to get stronger as the game moved on. Not many freshmen are prepared to take on that kind of a load in the SEC … Because he took so many plays – and games – off most people don’t think South Carolina will miss Jadeveon Clowney all that much. He really didn’t have many difference-making plays or games last year, that’s for sure. The guy the Gamecocks are going to miss is Kelcy Quarles, who finished with 9.5 sacks from the nose tackle position. Does South Carolina have a nose tackle who can anchor the defensive line like Quarles? If they don’t, then South Carolina’s defense could be a real problem.


A couple of winning streaks are on the line tonight when the 2nd-ranked Gators (23-2, 12-0 SEC) play host to Auburn (12-11, 4-8 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center (7 p.m., Sun Sports/Fox Sports Network). The Gators have won 17 games in a row and a win over Auburn will set a new school record. Florida has also won 29 straight games at the O-Dome, one of the longest streaks in the nation. The O-Dome has a well-deserved reputation as a very difficult place for opponents to play and the UAA has done its part to make it even more intimidating by distributing more student tickets, particularly for midweek games when it’s difficult for season ticket holders from as far away as Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville to get to Gainesville. The midweek games have been selling out and the students tend to stay until the end of the game no matter the score, unlike so many of the boosters and season ticket holders who start heading for the exits at the 8-minute mark if the Gators have a double digit lead.


Six days after he stated that a proposed rule change that would prevent the ball being snapped until 10 seconds had run off the play clock as a measure to “enhance student-athlete safety,” Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun, the chairman of the NCAA Rules Committee is backtracking. Speaking to Yahoo Sports Tuesday, Calhoun said, “The key is this: I think the only way that it can or it should become a rule is if it is indeed a safety concern. And that can’t be something that’s a speculation or a possibility.” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, who is a pioneer of spread, no-huddle offenses, says there is only speculation because “There’s absolutely zero documented evidence that is hazardous on the pace of play, only opinions.”


In the week since the rules change proposal was made, Alabama coach Nick Saban has taken a couple of torpedoes to the bow. Whether Saban truly believes there are safety concerns for defensive units that are trying to keep up with the hurry-up offenses or is simply trying to disguise his dislike for having to defend them, this has been a total public relations nightmare for a coach who comes across as enormously dislikeable. Saban is coming across as both a bully and frightened by the offenses (those of Auburn and Oklahoma) that handed him consecutive losses after he spent the year ranked #1 while Malzahn is coming across as the skinny guy who isn’t afraid to stand up to the bully and fight back. In this PR war, Saban is getting his butt kicked.  


Not that it’s going to make much difference, but Tennessee fans are circulating a petition to fire basketball coach Cuonzo Martin and bring back Bruce Pearl. Martin inherited a program that was making the NCAA field with regularity but since he’s been gone, the Vols have made the NIT twice and unless they put it together in their last five games plus make a little hay in the SEC Tournament, that’s where they’re going to be again this year. Pearl’s NCAA show cause ends this summer so he could be coaching next year, but it’s highly doubtful that will happen. The same president (Joe DiPietro) who was in charge when Pearl and Tennessee were slammed by the NCAA is still in power and he’s also the guy who hired Martin. No matter what happens the rest of this season, it seems highly unlikely that Martin will be coaching anywhere but Tennessee next year.


Recently, it was announced at Indiana University that wealthy alum Cindy Simon Skojdt was donating $40 million to help renovate Assembly Hall, which has seen better days. The timing is perfect because Tuesday night’s Iowa-Indiana game at Assembly Hall was postponed when a metal beam came crashing down from the roof a few hours before the game was set to begin. Before deciding to postpone, Indiana considered playing the game with no fans allowed in the building but that was nixed along with a contingency plan to move the game to Indianapolis. Indiana will have 72 hours to reschedule the game.


CBS is shuffling its NFL Today pregame show lineup, adding former Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez to the show while dropping Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe. The new show lineup will include James Brown, Boomer Esiason and Bill Cowher in addition to Gonzalez. Last year The NFL Today was hammered in the ratings by Fox NFL Sunday by a whopping 39%. Unless Tony Gonzalez is the second coming of Groucho Marx, the ratings are going to sink even lower. Fox wins with legitimate personalities in Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson and Michael Strahan to go with studio host Curt Menefee. CBS doesn’t seem to understand that Boomer and Bill Cowher just aren’t that interesting.


The inspiration for the song “Mustang Sally” began when Della Reese wanted a brand new Mustang which led singer/songwriter Mack Rice to write “Mustang Mama,” which was changed to “Mustang Sally” at the suggestion of Aretha Franklin. Rice recorded it in 1965 but it didn’t become a big hit until Wilson Pickett came out with his version in 1966 which featured Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass, Steve Cropper on guitar and Booker T Jones on the organ. Cropper and Dunn were part of the band in “The Blues Brothers” while Booker T Jones continues to record with Booker T and the MGs.

Previous articleShore shines in Gator debut
Next articleStreaks on line for Gators tonight
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. What message would be sent to student-athletes if Bruce Pearl was hired by anyone? The man is a proven chronic liar. I thought the main goal of a higher institution was to produce citizens of high character, not wins on an athletic field. I would hope that Bruce Pearl never gets a coaching job again. It doesn’t take integrity to be an analyst but it should be expected for a person who is molding young men.

    • The message sent is that if and when you make mistakes, you have to pay for them, but afterwards, you get back to being a productive member of society. What he did wasn’t particularly egregious, but his cover-up and lying about it is what got him crapcanned.

      He deserved to be fired and not be able to coach for a while, but there simply aren’t enough great coaches out there that the sport can afford to give up a guy in his prime who can build programs, put and exciting and winning team on the floor, and is willing to promote as well.

      I hope that Bruce Pearl is back in the SEC coaching sooner than later to hopefully pull this conference from the dregs it is in now. It is embarrassing how far basketball has fallen besides Florida and Kentucky.

      I’d love to see Pearl surface at a place like Georgia to make them good enough to be a rival we can enjoy hating again. Right now, they’re only worthy of pity.

  2. Snowprint.. I will have to agree with you regarding Pearl. It seems that college sports is spiraling more and more toward doing whatever it takes to get wins. Doesn’t matter who the coach is and what he and his assistants do with their recruits. It seems that it is all about winning. Winning at all cost.
    As arrogant as he can be… one of the reasons that I liked Spurrier was for how he felt about the game.
    And that is, that players should be recruited honestly, not lied to. That once the player was enrolled into the University, that they need to keep their grades up and their noses clean. If not, then they were off the team. And it did not matter if you were the starting quarterback.

    • Pearl had a barbecue where he invited recruits and then told them not to tell anyone about it. Then, in top of it, he lied about it and tried to cover it up when questioned. That’s wrong, and he was punished for it by he, his entire staff and the athletic director getting fired and him basically not being allowed to coach for three years.

      However, beyond that, I don’t see any reason why he should coach again now that the punishment has passed.

      Scottie Wilbekin is a great example of a guy making mistakes, and repeatedly, but finally getting it together after serving his punishment. That, to me, is a great lesson to propagate, and one that would be given out in this instance as well.

  3. Franz… thanks for picking the Classic: ” Mustang Sally.” This is always a favorite when we play it out.
    Doesn’t matter who the crowd is or how old or young they are. Eveyone wants to sing along with “Sally.”
    I am huge Blues Brothers fan. Actualy had the opportunity to perform in a Blues Brothers Cover band for a few years here in the southeast. (Did a 30 minute halftime entertainment gig at corporte parties.)
    Had a chance to visit Stax Records in Memphis a couple of years back.
    Huge high. You could just feel the goosebumps on your arms thinking that greats like Franklin, Cropper, Dunn, Booker T… Ike and Tina…Rufus Thomas…all recorded here!
    It was more of a “high” than even visiting Sun Records were Elvis started out.
    Thanks Franz for the memories.