Thoughts of the day: January 25, 2014

A few thoughts to jump start your Saturday morning.


The crowd of more than 10,000 nearly blew the roof off the O-Dome Friday night when Bridget Sloan and Kytra Hunter pulled off the ultimate daily double by scoring back-to-back 10s on the floor as part of Florida’s annihilation of Georgia in the first home gymnastics meet of the season. One 10 is a rarity. Two in a row? Unheard of. All Georgia could do is watch. If this were football, Florida’s 198.050-196.700 win would be the equivalent of beating Georgia by 60. It wasn’t that long ago that Georgia won its fifth NCAA championship in a row but the new kid on the block is Florida. The Gators won last year’s national championship and they’ve got the stars and the depth to make it two in a row. The way Rhonda Faehn continues to recruit, a lot of gymnastics’ traditional powers are going to be looking at Florida’s headlights in the future. This is a program that has been built from the ground up for just this kind of success. Can you say dynasty in the making?


Tennessee comes to town feeling pretty confident today for its showdown with the 6th-ranked Gators. Cuonzo Martin is 3-0 coaching against Billy Donovan, using a style of play that some might say is best suited for the sumo wrestling circuit. Florida wilted the last two seasons against Tennessee’s aggressive, physical style and you have to figure that Martin has no plans to change his tactics, not on a day when his Vols can take a big step toward establishing themselves as a legitimate NCAA Tournament team by knocking off the best team in the SEC on the road. Tennessee needs this win badly, but so do the Gators. It will send quite a statement to the rest of the SEC and the country if the Gators aren’t the least bit fazed by Tennessee’s attempt to physically intimidate them.


The good folks at Saturdays Down South compiled a list of the 25 largest stadiums in the world, which range everywhere from a 150,000 monstrosity in North Korea to an 86,000 seat stadium in Cairo, Egypt. In between are 11 on campus college football stadiums including six from the Southeastern Conference. SDS lists (7) Neyland Stadium (102,455); (8) Bryant-Denny Stadium (102,329); (15) Sanford Stadium (92,746); (16) Tiger Stadium (92,542); (22) The Swamp (88,548) and (24) Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451). Currently, both Sanford Stadium and Tiger Stadium are being expanded to seat more than 100,000 and Texas A&M’s Kyle Field will seat somewhere between 100,000 and 105,000 in two years when its renovation and expansion has completed. South Carolina is expected to expand to 90,000.


It turns out that Dorial Beckham-Green’s arrest for suspected drug activity might be the very least of Gary Pinkel’s worries at the University of Missouri. ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” is reporting that the school did not investigate or tell law enforcement about the alleged rape of one its swimmers by one or more Missouri football players in 2010. ESPN reports that Sasha Menu Courey, who committed suicide in 2011 by ingesting 100 Tylenol, shared the incident with a rape crisis counselor and a campus therapist. A campus nurse, two doctors and an athletic department administrator learned of her allegation that she had been sexually assaulted but there was no investigation or report to any law enforcement agency. Former Missouri football player Rolandis Woodland alleges that Menu Courey was raped by more than just one of his teammates and that he’s seen a videotape of the alleged incident. In 2010, Missouri running back Derrick Washington was convicted of sexual assault on a tutor and former Missouri (now Memphis) basketball player Michael Dixon was twice accused of sexual assault.


Former Texas All-American quarterback Vince Young is the latest former pro athlete to file for bankruptcy. In his six years in the NFL, Young was paid $34 million but when he filed for bankruptcy protection Thursday, he listed assets between $500,000-1,000,000 and debts that totaled as much as $10,000,000. Sports Illustrated in 2009 estimated that 78% of all NFL players will either go bankrupt or face serious financial shortfalls within two years of ending their careers and that 60% of all NBA players will go bankrupt within five years after their careers come to an end.


Scottie Pippen, who made $120,000,000 as Tonto to Michael Jordan’s Lone Ranger with the Chicago Bulls went broke shortly after his basketball career came to an end. His bankruptcy declaration revealed the purchase of a $4,000,000 corporate jet that was grounded just months after he bought it. With Jordan one locker room stall away and so successful financially, you would think that Pippen might have asked, “Hey Mikey, you know someone who can help me invest my money?”  You would think that somewhere along the line someone might have suggested to Pippen that he might have more outgo than income but unfortunately what happened to Pippen is commonplace in professional sports.


The NFL fined Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman $7,875 Friday for unsportsmanlike conduct in last Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers. Crabtree made a choking gesture after breaking up a Colin Kaepernick pass intended for Michael Crabtree that was corralled for an interception by linebacker Malcolm Smith. Sherman tapped Crabtree on the shoulder and extended his hand for a handshake but Crabtree shoved Sherman in the face. That led to the choking gesture and ultimately to Sherman’s tirade when Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews put a microphone in his face.


Right now, Accuweather is predicting a high of 36 with snow showers for next Sunday’s Super Bowl, but with a week to go and more snow storms predicted leading up to the game in New York, the best the NFL can do it hold its breath. Roger Goodell has announced that there are contingency plans to play the game either on Saturday or Monday just in case the forecasters get it wrong and a really big storm hits. I remain steadfast in my hope for a blizzard.


When I was spending a good portion of my life in Europe during the 1990s, I discovered the British acid-jazz trio Heavy Shift. They are terrific live and while they have recorded six albums, I don’t think they are in the studio nearly enough. This is a cut from their “Last Picture Show” CD, which was released in 1996. It’s called “L.A. Nights.”

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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.