Thoughts of the day: March 25, 2014

A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning.


Florida’s fourth spring practice was nothing to write home about when it came to the quarterbacks, but don’t read anything into it. Jeff Driskel had problems finding his receivers, threw an interception and had a couple of other passes that probably should have been picked. Will Grier had trouble keeping the ball from sailing on him. If this were late in the spring and you knew the quarterbacks knew the new system inside and out, it might be worth a bit of concern, but this is the fourth practice and until everybody is on the same page – that might be awhile – there is no need for concern. Kurt Roper’s track record says he will have Driskel and Grier ready to go in the fall and that’s what is important. For now, they’re just out there getting reps every day and growing comfortable.


There have been some rumblings that Tim Tebow will get one more shot to play quarterback in the NFL, a thought confirmed by Urban Meyer, who told CBS Sports, “There are some conversations about it.” Tebow is as great a college football player as there has ever been but his ability to play and win in the NFL is going to come down to one basic thing – can he read defenses well enough? A couple of NFL scouts I’ve been friends with for quite some time tell me the same thing: Tebow can indeed throw the ball well enough to play quarterback in the NFL, but he struggles to make good reads, therefore holds the ball too long then makes too many bad throws. When he makes the right read and sets his feet, he gets the ball where it has to be. If he can’t make the reads then he has to decide whether he wants to play another position or pursue the broadcasting career. I have no doubt he could be that hybrid slot/H-back/tight end who could someday make the Pro Bowl and the money is definitely better in the NFL. However, you have a lot better shot at being healthy when you’re 50 if you’re a broadcaster than you do if you play a bunch of years in the NFL.


The Gators are in the Sweet 16 and most of the experts say it’s all about the defense this year for Billy Donovan. No doubt, the Gators are as good defensively as there is in the country, but they aren’t as bad as some insist on the offensive end. You have to score enough to win and Florida has done that 34 times this year including the last 28 games in a row. Donovan put it all in perspective Monday when he said, “You can be the greatest defensive team in the world, and if you can’t get past 50 points every game, it’s going to be hard to win.  So you’ve got to be able to do both things, and there’s definitely a balance there.” Translation: You’ve got to score at least one more point than the opponent.


Florida will be cutting down the nets in a couple of weeks. The Gators are a 10/3 favorite to win it all followed by Louisville (5/1), Michigan State (5/1), Arizona (6/1), Virginia (9/1), Kentucky (16/1), Michigan (16/1), UCLA (16/1), Wisconsin (16/1), Baylor (20/1), Iowa State (20/1), Connecticut (28/1), Tennessee (28/1), San Diego State (33/1), Stanford (50/1) and Dayton (100/1). The oddsmakers also make Scottie Wilbekin a 7/1 favorite to be the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player followed by Russ Smith of Louisville (9/1). Casey Prather was given 15/1 odds.


Florida went 2-0 during the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament and won both games, which is what a #1 seed is supposed to do. The Gators weren’t flashy, just the same methodical team that has beaten Kentucky three times en route to a 28-game winning streak. Kentucky went 2-0 the same weekend and somehow we are to believe that the Wildcats have it all figured out now. I think Kentucky is playing better than it was a month ago, but I’m not sold that the Wildcats have suddenly turned into the team they were hyped to be in the preseason … It took the entire season for people to realize that Duke and North Carolina weren’t really very good. Duke had no inside game and couldn’t win if the 3-pointers weren’t falling. North Carolina couldn’t hit free throws and had serious problems defending anyone … At the NFL meetings this week, the talk will be about improving the officiating. I wish college basketball would do the same thing. There are certain officials out there who have no business calling even a game at the YMCA yet they are out there calling the biggest games. If Jamie Luckie or Ron Groover are assigned to the South Region I’m going to barf.


Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell re-injured his leg and will miss the rest of the spring for Georgia. He is expected to make a full recovery before August … Auburn defensive end LaDarius Owens will miss the rest of the spring with an undisclosed injury … The defense won the first scrimmage of the spring at Vanderbilt. The Commodores have switched to a 3-4 scheme which produced four sacks and an interception … LSU has moved sophomore linebacker Kendell Beckwith to defensive end … Quarterback Brandon Allen completed 60% of his passes the first three days of Arkansas’ spring practice. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney wants to see that closer to 70% … Quarterback Dylan Thompson was sharp in South Carolina’s first scrimmage. There is a real battle going on for the backup job between Brandon Nosovitch and Connor Mitch … Justin Coleman has been moved to nickel at Tennessee … Rebuilding the offensive line where three starters have to be replaced and finding new safeties are the focus at Alabama … Dan Mullen was pleased with the first week at Mississippi State, especially with the defense … Hugh Freeze says the defense at Ole Miss will be much faster next season … Isaiah Golden has withdrawn from school Texas A&M, which further complicates a defense trying to deal with the suspension of Darian Claiborne and a serious injury to Ivan Robinson.


Until Kentucky’s run is over in the NCAA Tournament, there won’t be any talk of leaving early for the NBA Draft, but given the Wildcats’ performance the last couple of weeks, expect Julius Randle, James Young, Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison to declare for the draft before the sweat dries on their uniforms after the final game. Sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein is also expected to go. Sophomore Alex Poythress will have serious decisions to make. Does he stick it out at Kentucky one more year and see his draft status potentially sink further? Does he leave now and take his chances as a second rounder? Or does he transfer out? Smart money is that he transfers … No word today from Duke about Jabari Parker or from Kansas about Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden or Joel Embiid, but all three are expected to declare … North Carolina State’s T.J. Warren and Ohio State’s LaQuinton Ross have declared. Warren should go in the first round. Ross should stay in school … Australian Dante Exum, son of former North Carolina player Cecil Exum, is expected to declare for the draft. He’s been out of high school one year so he won’t have to spend a year in college …  JaKarr Sampson of St. John’s announced he is leaving after two years of college basketball.


Sam Moore and Dave Prater grew up singing gospel music, which is where they met in the early 1960s when Dave was singing with older brother JT with The Sensational Hummingbirds. They were signed by Atlantic Records, which turned them over to Stax in Memphis. At Stax, where they had Booker T and the MGs and a great horn section to back them, Sam and Dave put together a 12-year run in which they twice hit #1 with “Hold On, I’m Coming” and “Soul Man.” One of the things I always liked about Sam and Dave was you could always get a feel for their gospel roots in every song they sang.  This is “You Don’t Know What You Mean to Me” which barely cracked the top 50 in the late 1960s. The song blew me away the first time I heard it and it still resonates with me 45 years later.

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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. It’s very concerning that Driskel continues to struggle throwing the ball. It’s not the “system” that is the reason for him continuing to be inaccurate. It might be time to scrap the idea of using the forward pass in Gainesville. To do so, you need a quarterback who can throw the ball. It’s pretty apparent that Driskel is not a guy who can throw the ball accurately with any consistency. Auburn has shown that you can win with a quarterback who is not consistently accurate. The question is if UF can do the same, because Driskel is not ever going to be accurate. You can’t coach accuracy.y