Thoughts of the day: January 21, 2014

A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning.


There is something VERY wrong with this scenario – the cheap seats for next year’s first national championship game START at $1,899. These are seats in the corners of the top level of the end zone at Jerry’s World in Dallas. Between the 20s, the seats will only set you back $3,899 apiece and if you want a seat in one of the suites, be prepared to fork out more than $4,000. If the first national championship game of the new playoff system works anything like it did for BCS games, then a school like Florida will be required to guarantee the sale of something like 17,500 tickets. Now, those tickets won’t cost the same as the ones that are about to go on sale for $1,899, but I would expect they will cost more than the tickets for Auburn-Florida State game, which were sold at more than $300 apiece. This is going to be one very expensive proposition.


We also haven’t factored in the cost of the semifinals. To get to the national championship game four teams will duke it out in the semifinals, held this year at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. Here  is a scenario for you: Florida makes the final four and is assigned to the Rose Bowl to face Oregon while Alabama gets the Sugar Bowl where it will face Oklahoma. Because you have donated more than $3,000 a year for 10 years to the UAA, you can buy two tickets to the Rose Bowl, face value of something like $500 apiece. You’re down a thousand and you still haven’t flow to Los Angeles, round trip for two $1,600. We’re at $2,600 and counting. Hotels are jacked up and require a three-day stay so now we’re out another $500 a night when you count taxes, parking, etc. Three days of a rental car will also set you back $600 by the time you add gas and insurance. So we’re at $4,700 and nobody has eaten. Figure another $500. That’s $5,200 for the seminfinals. And how much will you spend next week if the Gators win?


We’re already seeing sections of stadiums that were filled to the rafters just three or four years ago with areas where you could take a shotgun, turn in any direction and fire away and never worry about hitting anyone. Some say it’s the economy and that might have something to do with it, but I wonder are fans close to their saturation point? The first thing I hear is “winning will cure everything” but Florida won 11 regular season games in 2012 and there were games where either a whole lot of people wore their empty seat disguises or else they simply stayed home and watched on the big screen. And, it’s not just Florida. It’s all across the country. So many fans tell me that they can afford tickets just fine, but they find it difficult to justify the cost as a good investment anymore when they have a 70-inch TV at home where they get instant replays, air conditioning, leather sofas, no lines at the bathroom and they can drink all they want. If the fans stay away in record numbers, will we see the current economic model collapse at schools across the country, particularly those with such high debt service on their facilities? I can think of five or six schools off the top of my head that should be concerned.


We’ve heard since the day he arrived on campus about Quinton Dunbar’s talent. He’s had a productive – 90 catches, 1,147 yards and 6 touchdowns – but not exactly an earth-shattering career. We also know how talented Ahmad Fulwood and Demarcus Robinson are. We just haven’t seen the ball thrown their way very much. Some people say the Gators don’t have playmakers, but can we be sure of that? To make plays, someone has to get you the football and we haven’t really seen anyone do that, now have we? Now check these numbers:  184 catches for 2,534 yards and 16 touchdowns; and 283 catches for 3,729 yards and 21 touchdowns. The 184 catches were by Jamison Crowder the last two years at Duke under Kurt Roper. The 283 were by Conner Vernon, who was a four-year starter. If I’m a Florida wide receiver right about now, then I’m the most inspired guy on the planet, ready to work my tail off to get this offense down pat before August 30.


In his introductory press conference at Louisville, former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham claimed his defenses were “the backbone” of Georgia’s two SEC Eastern Division championships in four years. Let’s see: Georgia was beaten 42-10 in the SEC championship game in 2011 by offensively challenged LSU and in 2012 the Bulldogs gave up 512 yards and 32 points in the SEC championship game to Alabama. I think Grantham thought he was dissing Georgia when he made that statement, but the joke’s on him. He really wasn’t that good. And here I was thinking Bobby Petrino had an eye for good coaches.


There are whispers that one or two more coaches are about to leave the Florida State staff, per a friend who has some close associations with the coaches in Tallahassee. Jimbo Fisher had to replace six coaches off his 2012 staff and there was a seamless transition as FSU won the national championship. But he’s already lost Jeremy Pruitt to Georgia and there is no way to call that anything but substantial. If Fisher has to replace one or two more coaches, you have to wonder if he can find coaches who will fit in so easily two years in a row. If more coaches go and Fisher can’t pull off another easy transition, then FSU’s stay at the top might have a short shelf life.


While all the experts will be touting Florida State, Alabama, Auburn and Oregon as the best four teams in the country to start the 2014 season, here are two under the radar programs poised to make some big noise. In the SEC, watch out for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs finished strong to go 7-6 and that was with a very young team. Dan Mullen thinks quarterback Dak Prescott is ready to put up Tebow numbers. He’s got enough talent coming back on defense that coordinator Geoff Collins said no to Jimbo Fisher and Florida State to sign an extension with a raise to $625,000 (how do you spend that much in Starkvegas?) to stay at Mississippi State. Larry Fedora is replacing Blake Anderson with Indiana offensive coordinator Seth Littrell. Indiana was a bad team but Littrell put up 38 points a game. It wasn’t his fault the Hoosiers couldn’t stop anyone. Carolina will be loaded offensively. If Fedora can come up with a defense that can stop people, Carolina is going to make life miserable for a lot of people in the Almost Competitive Conference.


The crew chief of the zebra crew that called the San Francisco-Seattle NFC championship game was Gene Steratore, who officiated three Division I basketball games including two in the Big Ten the week prior to the NFL game. I think if the NFL is really concerned with its integrity, it needs to ensure that its officials aren’t spending three nights running up and down a basketball court for two hour stretches the week before an important game. San Francisco-Seattle was a poorly officiated game. I am not sure if it would have been better officiated if Steratore had gotten more rest leading up to the game, but it is reason to go hmmm.


I started listening to Hall and Oates back in the 1970s but it wasn’t until I heard them live at the O-Dome in March of 1983 that I really got an appreciation for how good they were and how capable of playing everything from rock and roll to blue-eyed soul to doo wop. One of my favorites has always been “Why Do Lovers Break Each Other’s Hearts,” which was on their “Beauty on a Backstreet” album from 1977. This is pure doo wop with some rock and roll instrumentals.

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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. You are pulling out straws to convince yourself that FSU will not be on top next year when you start talking about coaches. As far as I know, they’ll have the best player in college football back next year and if you think losing a couple of receivers and running backs, fullback, and center is going to slow him down, you’re not seeing clearly. I expect him to be even better next year. It still doesn’t register with many of you that Winston is a one in a generation type of player, but like those in “Strawberry Fields”, I think you are “seeing with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.” I guess you need to think that assistant coaches are difference makers because if that isn’t the case, then UF will again have an anemic offense. You would think, just by the law of averages, that there would emerge a playmaker from the large number of highly touted receivers at UF. Until one does though, it’s just speculation. I wouldn’t expect it to be Debose though, he’s been a bust at receiver his entire career and the odds of him turning it around in his 6th year are not good, when is the last time he caught a pass? Also Jeff Driskel is probably going to be the quarterback and throwing the ball is not something he does well. Even in the 11 win campaign, the Gators were 118th in the country in passing, I believe. Your hypothesis about the importance of assistant coaches will be tested, I don’t buy it and think coaching can not turn a poor player into a good one. If Driskel improves, you’ll be right, if not, it will show that assistant coaches are not that important, head coaches are.

    • Who’s pulling straws? FSU could be replacing more coaches and if there isn’t the easy transition there was last year, then it could indeed be disruptive. When you are changing coaches on a constant basis, it is disruptive. Just look at Florida 2009 and again in 2010 if you find that hard to believe. Great talent is made average by average or below average coaching. Great talent is made better by great coaching. That’s not a hypothesis. That is reality.

  2. Sorry, Snow. In one sense you are right — the pathetic teams that make up the ACC could be beaten without ANY coaches next year.

    But I expect an un-civil suit to bring down the Infamous Jameis in the next year. Rape is still a serious matter, though obviously not so much in Tallahassee.