Thoughts of the day: January 28, 2014

A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning. 


Since everyone has come out with a list lately, here is mine, based on location, facilities, conference and ability to recruit Division I talent.

1. ALABAMA: Alabama has won three of the last five national championships and has recruited better than anyone else in the country the last six years. The facilities are outstanding. 90,000 attend the spring game. What does that tell you about the fans. Nick Saban is the best coach in college football.

2. LSU: LSU gets the best talent in a talent-rich state has the clout to go into Texas to come away with 3-4 top prospects every year. The fans are fanatical, the academics not so challenging and black athletes have the cultural advantage of Southern University, just a couple of miles from the LSU campus.

3. SOUTHERN CAL: For all the money at Texas, they probably have just as much at Southern Cal. Now that the university has a 98-year lease on the LA Memorial Coliseum, the place is going to have the feel of a great college stadium. Within a 60-mile radius of the campus there are as more people than live in the entire state of Florida. USC should dominate the Pac-12.

4. OHIO STATE: They have facilities that are among the best in the nation and a fanatical fan base that will follow the Buckeyes anywhere. They get all the good prospects in Ohio, which produces plenty of talent. They have to go south to recruit speed to compete on a national level, however. There should never be a year when Ohio State isn’t one of the two best teams in the Big 10.

5. TEXAS: Fifth? You got it Chico. If this is the best college football coaching job then why is it that Texas has only won three Big 12 championships since the league’s inception and the 2005 national championship won by Mack Brown is the only one since Darrell Royal retired way back when? They have the money, facilities, location and so much more. This could be the best job in the country but until it proves it with championships it’s fifth.

6. NOTRE DAME: It’s been a long, long time since national championships but don’t think that Notre Dame is irrelevant just yet. They still have their own network (NBC) and they just got an unprecedented deal with Under Armour that includes stock options that will be worth nine figures in the very near future. Money is no object. Proof is that they paid $18 million to Charlie Weis to buy him out in 2009.

7. FLORIDA: The Gators will move back up the list in a hurry when they start winning big on a regular basis again. Since going 57-10 and winning two national championships from 2005-09, the Gators are 30-21. This is the flagship university in a state loaded with talent. Even with a 4-8 record, Will Muschamp will bring in a top 5-6 recruiting class.

8. OKLAHOMA: Okay, so it’s right there in tornado alley, the school has the traditions, the fan base, a lot of money, excellent facilities and still has the clout to go to Texas to bring in the talent it takes to win. As long as Bob Stoops is the head coach, Oklahoma is going to be one of the ten best jobs in college football. The Sooners will always be one of the two best teams in the Big 12.

9. TEXAS A&M: They’re tired of being little brother to Texas, which is why they are gutting Kyle Field. What will grow in its place is a stadium bigger than the one in Austin. And, Texas A&M has the advantage of playing in the Southeastern Conference. Recruits are starting to get excited about being Aggies, too. This is a sleeping giant.

10. FLORIDA STATE: The way Jimbo Fisher has recruited, the Seminoles are going to be players on the big stage for years to come. Fisher could have had the Texas job if he wanted it. That he stayed at FSU says plenty about what he’s building there. The only weak link for FSU is playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference.


This is based on location, attendance, interest, facilities and access to Division I talent.

1. NEW MEXICO STATE: Nearby is the White Sands Missile Test Range. In the spring when they have dust storms you can be inhaling history from 1945 when they exploded the first atomic bomb at White Sands. There probably aren’t 10 Division I prospects within a 300 mile radius.

2. UMASS: UMass did fine in Division IAA. Then someone got the brilliant idea to go to Division I and join the Mid-American Conference, which – get this – is in mid-America. There are no nearby rivals and the fans get lathered up (inject sarcasm) for those fall afternoons when Eastern Michigan or Western Michigan or Kent State comes rolling into town. Division I prospects go to Boston College, UConn or, if they are good enough, down south. They don’t go to UMass.

3. IDAHO: They play their home games in something called the Kibbie Dome which seats 16,000 and is made mostly of wood. Moscow, Idaho is not the end of the world but there are signs that can get you there. For fun you can drive eight miles to Pullman, Washington. The local population is 94% white and dozens of white separatist groups such as Aryan Nation are located in the area, which might explain the difficulty luring talented black athletes to Moscow.

4. GEORGIA STATE: This is a campus is in downtown Atlanta. There are no on campus facilities and home games are played in the cavernous Georgia Dome where people are not going to flock to see Georgia State square off with Old Dominion or Louisiana-Monroe. There is plenty of nearby Division I talent, but Georgia State gets the crumbs left over from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Auburn and the rest of the Southeastern Conference.

5. UAB: Home games are played in decrepit Legion Stadium. The Board of Trustees for UAB is the same board that oversees things in Tuscaloosa. When they wanted to hire Jimbo Fisher back in 2007, Bear Bryant’s kid put the kibosh on it because he wanted Nick Saban to hire Jimbo as his offensive coordinator. There are lots of Division I prospects, but Alabama and Auburn get first choice while Troy and South Alabama will constantly land more than UAB.


Because of the recruiting base within a 350-mile radius, there is never an excuse for these schools to ever be out of the national title hunt.

1. SOUTHERN CAL: Within 200 miles of the campus are more people than live in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee combined. A good number of them play football quite well.

2. UCLA: That UCLA has been such a non-player on the national scene is mind boggling when you consider the amount of talent in the Los Angeles area.

3. TEXAS: Go north and you hit the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Go Southeast and you hit Houston. Due South is San Antonio.

4. TEXAS A&M: See Texas.

5. MIAMI: If Miami simply landed 90% of the All-Dade County team each year it would be in the national title hunt.

6. FLORIDA: The recruiting radius stretches as far north as Atlanta and as far south as Miami with Tampa and Orlando in between.

7. FLORIDA STATE: FSU’s location lets it get into south Georgia and as far north as Birmingham.

8. GEORGIA: The 350-mile recruiting radius encompasses all of Georgia including Atlanta and gets the Bulldogs into Jacksonville where they have traditionally recruited well.

9. LSU: LSU owns all of Louisiana and its recruiting radius gets it into west Florida, east Texas (including Houston) and into northern Mississippi.


Blind Faith was going to be a super group when it merged the talents of Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker  and Rick Greech in 1969. The super group lasted only one year, but the album “Blind Faith” was truly outstanding. This is “Can’t Find My Way Home” from that great album.


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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. Franz……
    I feel like I am at my brekfast table sitting over… “a couple of over-easy eggs, bacon and toast with some chilled orange juice…” reading some Tom McKwen in the Tampa Tribune. Thank you!
    Got a quick question:
    I’ve got a good buddy out in Austin who is a big Longhorn fan. I have been out to their campus and stadium, which are both well designed, coordinated and beautiful. I was told that Texas will be expanding their stadium to 120,000… which will make it the largest in the nation. Will the Aggies be able to beat that?

    Ah… Blind Faith… this is another song that my band plays out. We got two great vocalists… husband and wife who harmonize beautifully on this song. I hook up an effects pedal to my harmonica and we are there with Winwood and Clapton.
    Same thing with, “Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys” by Winwood. We often say that these songs are so classically great that when we’re finished… that we say,

    “Yea… that was so good, you could smell that song.”

  2. Texas
    Ohio St
    Florida St
    Notre Dame
    …..Texas is still Texas, money, facilities, boosters, fan base, recruiting …I’m a Gator fan and I get it. Same with USC, flagship program on the west coast. Then UF. I think the top 3 has been pretty much unchanged for the last decade and won’t change for a while. Ohio St, flagship BIG 10ish school, endless resources, money, fan base etc. could switch places with Michigan every 5-10 years, but right now they’re on top. Bama is all Saban. Yes the tradition helps, but not a desirable area and just because he is the best coach and recruiter in CFB doesn’t mean anyone can go in there and do what he’s done, outside of maybe Urban. The last 10 years and delta recruiting has elevated LSU. Oklahoma is a poor mans Texas with lots of tradition. Georgia is a top 10 job and FSU is the 2nd school in Florida with a great 30 year history, but u took out this year I probably would have penciled in TAMU or Auburn. And ND is still Notre Dame though with each passing decade they move further down the list.