Thoughts of the day: May 4, 2014

A few thoughts to jump start your Sunday morning.


Quickly now, name the last team not named Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU or Tennessee to either win outright or tie for the Southeastern Conference football championship? If you said, Kentucky in 1976 (Wildcats tied Georgia for the SEC title), then move to the head of the class.

Okay, the next question is tougher. Prior to Kentucky earning a tie for the title in 1976, which was the last team not named Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU or Tennessee to either win outright or tie for the SEC football title? That was Ole Miss, 1963, Ole Miss went 7-0-2 in the regular season but lost to Alabama, 12-7, in the Sugar Bowl. Between 1947 and 1963, Ole Miss won six SEC titles. During that same time, Georgia Tech won two, Kentucky won one and Tulane (yes, they used to be in the SEC) won one. What that tells us is there used to be some semblance of parity in the league but that had something to do with single platoon, limited substitution football. Ole Miss could dominate the league in the day of one-platoon football, but there weren’t enough good athletes in the state to compete when the game changed.

In the history of the SEC, Alabama has won 23 championships followed by Tennessee (13), Georgia (12), LSU (11) and Florida and Auburn (8 each).

Since 1960, Alabama has won 18 SEC titles but only four since 1990. Since 1960, Georgia has won eight SEC titles but only two since 1990.

The most dominant team in the SEC since 1990 has been Florida, which has won eight SEC titles. That number would be at least 11 if not for some time spent in the NCAA jailhouse. The Gators were stripped of the 1984 SEC title that they won on the field, would have won it in 1985 had they been eligible, and were screwed out of the 1990 championship for the most dubious of probations. Not one single player on that 1990 team was around when an NCAA violation involving head coach Galen Hall and the late Jarvis Williams allegedly occurred.

Since 1990, LSU has won four titles while Auburn and Tennessee have each won three.

Since 1990, here are the records of all 14 teams in the SEC and the coach with the majority of those wins:

1. Florida (232-73-1): Steve Spurrier (122-27-1)
2. Georgia (206-92-1): Mark Richt (126-45)
3. Tennessee (203-94-2): Phil Fulmer (152-52)
4. Auburn (197-95-3): Tommy Tuberville (85-40)
5. LSU (197-98-1): Les Miles (95-24)
6. Alabama (187-95): Nick Saban (74-15)
7. Texas A&M (193-103-2): R.C. Slocum (115-43-2)
8. South Carolina (152-131-3): Steve Spurrier (77-39)
9. Arkansas (154-134-2): Houston Nutt (75-48)
10. Ole Miss (151-135): David Cutcliffe (44-29)
11. Missouri (148-138-3): Gary Pinkel (101-63)
12. Mississippi State (136-147-2): Jackie Sherrill (75-75-2)
13. Kentucky (109-73): Rich Brooks (39-47)
14. Vanderbilt (94-184): Bobby Johnson (29-66)

Since 1990, the SEC has produced 11 national champions: Alabama (4: 1992, 2009, 2011, 2012); Florida (3: 1996, 2006, 2008); LSU (2: 2003, 2007); Auburn (1: 2010) and Tennessee (1: 1998).

If you count official and unofficial national championships in school history, here is the list of SEC teams that have won national title. This includes schools that are no longer in the league or were in another league for many years before joining the SEC: Alabama (14: 1925, 1926, 1930, 1934, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1992, 2009, 2011, 2012); Tennessee (4: 1938, 1950, 1951, 1998); LSU (4: 1908, 1958, 2003, 2007); Auburn (3: 1913, 1957, 2010); Florida (3: 1996, 2006, 2008); Georgia (2: 1942, 1980); Ole Miss (2: 1960, 1962); Texas A&M (2: 1919; 1939); Arkansas (1: 1964); Georgia Tech (1: 1952).

The SEC has produced 12 Heisman Trophy winners: Florida, (3: Steve Spurrier, 1966; Danny Wuerffel, 1996; Tim Tebow, 2007); Auburn (3: Pat Sullivan, 1970; Bo Jackson, 1985; Cam Newton, 2010); Georgia (2: Frank Sinkwich, 1942; Herschel Walker, 1982); Texas A&M (2: John David Crow, 1957; Johnny Manziel, 2012); LSU (1: Billy Cannon, 1958); Alabama (1: Mark Ingram Jr., 2009)


“I am the trustee of a sacred public trust and if you live in the south, you know exactly what I mean,” Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive said a couple of weeks ago in a speech he gave at the University of Massachusetts Mark McCormack Department of Sports Management. If you grew up in the south and/or attended an SEC school, then you know exactly what he means.


This was supposed to be a showdown weekend between the 12th-ranked Gators and Alabama, but it’s turned into another series win for Florida (32-15, 17-6 SEC), which tightened its grip on first place in the SEC with a 4-3 win over the Crimson Tide (30-17, 13-10 SEC) Saturday evening. In winning their 10th straight SEC game, the Gators got three hits including an RBI double from Casey Turgeon, who has seven hits in the two games this weekend, a home run from Taylor Gushue, and a game-winning single along with 2-2/3 innings of relief for winning pitcher A.J. Puk. The Gators fell behind, 3-1, in the bottom of the third, but rallied for one in the fifth on the Turgeon double and two in the sixth on the Gushue homer and single by Puk that scored Pete Alonso. The Gators maintained a four-game lead over South Carolina (35-12, 13-10) in the SEC East and a two-game advantage over Ole Miss (35-13, 15-8 SEC) in the race for the regular season SEC championship. Karsten Whitson will get the start this afternoon as the Gators go for their third straight SEC sweep.


Lauren Haeger got it done in the circle and with the bat Saturday as the 7th-ranked Gators (44-10, 14-9 SEC) hammered Arkansas, 11-0, in softball action in Fayetteville. Haeger (9-1) pitched a seven-hit shutout and delivered a double and a grand slam, her 15th homer of the season. Haeger is now fourth all-time in home runs (47) and fifth all-time in RBI (174). She also went the distance in the circle, struck out three and didn’t allow a walk for her first shutout of the season and the 40th win of her pitching career, tying Jenny Gladding for ninth all-time at UF. She got plenty of support as Taylor Schwartz, Briana Little and Kelsey Stewart also homered as part of Florida’s 15-hit attack. The Gators close out the regular season today against Arkansas and then face Georgia next week in the quarter-finals of the SEC Tournament in Missouri.


The question for today comes from Scott Travis, who asks, “It looks like Jeff Driskel has to have a great year or the Gators are in trouble. Do you think he can get the job done? Do you think he can stay healthy? If he goes down again can the Gators win with Skyler, Grier or Treon?


I am eager to see what Driskel can do in the fall. This is Driskel’s third offensive coordinator but the first one whose offense seems just the right fit for his skill set. I think he will thrive in this offense, but I am concerned about his health because he’s never made it completely through one season without missing at least one game due to injury. If he can stay healthy, I think Kurt Roper will put him in position to make plays and have a good season. If he goes down, it gets dicey. Skyler Mornhinweg looked vastly improved in the spring, but he’s not a threat to run the ball and this offense really needs mobile quarterbacks. Still, he’s very smart and won’t do things that will beat you. Both Will Grier and Treon Harris are very mobile, but they will be true freshmen and one of them needs to redshirt. Friends who have seen both Grier and Harris tell me that Harris is probably the most SEC ready of the two. If it comes down to a true freshman in the game, the offense is going to be predicated on just how much do Will Muschamp and Roper trust him. If playing one of them requires dumbing down the offense considerably, then the Gators will be in trouble, but if one of them can handle the mental part, then you have to like the fact that it will give the Gators a mobile quarterback with a strong arm. The best bet is for Driskel to stay healthy for a full season.


Somehow, country music and Brown University doesn’t exactly compute, but Mary Chapin Carpenter, raised in Princeton, New Jersey, went to Brown where she dabbled in music while planning all along to get a real job. She found her first niche in country music although she’s branched out quite a bit in the 25 years since her debut album. She’s done everything from honky tonk favorites like “Shut Up and Kiss Me” to the very haunting “Only a Dream,” which is the best song on her “Come On, Come On” album although it never got radio airplay. This is a song about the day her older sister moved away from home. If you ever had an older sibling who you adored move away, then you understand that empty feeling that just wouldn’t go away for the longest time.

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. Roper said a good quarterback will be successful whatever the offensive scheme is. I just think too many people are putting their hopes into thinking that the reason for Driskel’s struggles is mainly due to him not being in the right system. I don’t agree. I just think that he is not a good quarterback. He hasn’t exactly been an Einstein in his football knowledge, at least when it translates to a real game, so I chuckle when I hear someone say the offense would need to be made less complicated for a new quarterback. People blame Muschamp and the offensive coordinators or anything else for Driskel’s struggles at quarterback. I think the obvious answer is to blame Driskel. I saw in the Sugar Bowl that there was an attempt to have a wide open passing offense and Driskel was miserable. He had a month to prepare and also had plenty of time, Louisville’s pass rush was not very good, and Driskel sucked. We saw in the Spring game an effort to have a downfield passing game and Driskel again showed that he is not accurate on anything other than short passes. I just hope to not hear any more excuses about Driskel this year. If he doesn’t perform now, it’s time to face the fact that it is Driskel who is to blame, not anyone or anything else. I could be wrong, but, sadly, I’m pretty sure that no amount coaching will change the fact that Jeff Driskel is, and has always been, a bad quarterback.

  2. “Bad guarterback” is a bit strong. I think most realize that he will never live up to the #1 HS QB recruit honor that he was given, but you don’t have to have a great QB to win. Strangely enough I kinda compare DRiskel with Garcia from South Carolina…tons of potential, can look brilliant one play and a goat the next…but you keep thinking any game now it’ll all come together for him. Sadly that never happened with Garcia even if you took away his off field stupidity…it was safe to say he never was going to channel his inner Tom Brady. There is still enough time for Driskel to rewrite his legacy at Florida…but even if he is never great it doesn’t mean we can’t still when some games even a title if he only ever gets to mediocre.

  3. Jeff’s issue has been no OL. He gets the deer in the headlights look because he has been a deer in the headlights for as long as he has been here. The constant pounding our QB’s have taken have made all of them look worse than they are. Jeff’s injury history is also directly related to the lack of anything remotely resembling protection.

    Our offense this year will go as our OL goes. If we have the same starters for the majority of the year, our offense is going to do very well. Jeff, the receivers, and the RB’s will all have great years. However, if we lose more than one or two starters on the line for an extended period, it could be ugly again.