Thoughts of the day: November 2, 2013

Nobody is picking Florida to win

The Sporting News distinguished pick’em panel of writers and broadcasters is unanimous in its belief that Florida will lose to Georgia this afternoon. That’s 10 picks for Georgia, 0 for the Gators. While this isn’t exactly bulletin board material, it is the kind of thing that Will Muschamp could turn to his advantage leading up to kickoff. It’s fairly obvious that the Gators have a rather fragile team ego, so pounding away that everyone predicts Georgia might only discourage his troops. The best way might be to convince his team that since nobody expects you to win, go out and have fun, play hard and let the chips fall where they may. If the Gators are thinking too much about the consequences of losing, they will be come a self-fulfilling prophesy. If Muschamp can create a loose, what the hell have we got to lose mentality then perhaps back it up with a bold play call or two early on to send a statement, he might just pull this one off. I’m going against the grain. I’m going to pick the Gators by a 17-16 margin.


An exhibition game against a Division II team whose tallest player is 6-6 isn’t exactly something you write home about, but considering that of the nine Gators who dressed and played – seven scholarship players and two walk-ons – only five were actually 100% healthy, a 110-88 win is fairly impressive. Casey Prather, Patric Young, DeVon Walker, Kasey Hill and walk-on Jacob Kurtz were able to play at 100%. Dillon Graham (high ankle sprain), Will Yeguete (recovering from microfracture surgery on his knee), Eli Carter (recovering from a broken leg) and walk-on Billy Donovan III (torn rotator cuff) played gimpy. When Donovan has everybody healthy, his suspended players back and freshman Chris Walker enrolled for the second semester, this is very definitely a national championship contender.


Everybody remembers Kerwin Bell to Ricky Nattiel for 96 yards in the third quarter but really, folks, that was the icing on the cake. What made this 27-0 win so special was the play of Florida’s special teams, brilliant defense and the goal line stand in the third quarter. Florida’s special teams delivered a fake punt  (Roger Sibbald threw to Brett Weighmann) that led to a field goal and a hit by Patrick Miller on a Georgia punt returner that produced a fumble to set up Florida’s second touchdown. The defense produced interceptions by Jarvis Williams and Mark Korff and then turned in one of the great defensive stands in Florida football history. Trailing 17-0 in the third quarter, Georgia drove the ball and had first and goal at the Florida two, but the Poodles were stuffed on four consecutive plays. Florida took over at the two and on third and eight, Bell fired the long strike to Nattiel. Within five minutes, 90% of the Georgia section of the Gator Bowl was empty.


The Atlantic Coast Conference finally has what it wants: a Florida State-Miami matchup that actually means something. When Miami joined the league in 2004, the thought was the winner of the FSU-Miami game would be a national championship contender every year, but it has been years since either the Seminoles or the Hurricanes have been relevant. Until this year. Both teams come into the game unbeaten, but the perception is that FSU is far stronger, evidenced by a point spread of 21.5, the largest in the series history. Publicly, the ACC people will tell you they want to see a white knuckler Saturday night. In private, they’re hoping FSU blows Miami’s doors off, strengthening the perception that the Seminoles are worthy of taking on Alabama for the national title.


Since Pat Haden fired Lane Kiffin and named Coach O (Ed Orgeron) as the interim head coach, Southern Cal is 3-1 and as of Friday night with their 31-14 win over Oregon State, bowl-eligible at 6-3. That’s pretty remarkable considering injuries and scholarship reductions from their NCAA probation leave Coach O and the Trojans only 58 scholarship athletes to work with. To Lane Kiffin’s credit, he took over a program with NCAA issues not of his doing and he never made the sanctions an excuse for losing. To Coach O’s credit, he’s gotten the Trojans to circle the wagons and adapt a chippy us against the world mentality that is working. The Trojans are a game behind Arizona in the Pac-12 South standings and with a little bit of luck could be playing for the conference championship.


When Carl Pelini resigned as head coach at Florida Atlantic earlier in the week reports surfaced immediately that it was for smoking marijuana. Friday, FAU officials released two sworn affidavits by staffers who say they witnessed Pelini using both marijuana and cocaine. When he took the FAU job a couple of years ago after serving on brother Bo Pelini’s staff at Nebraska, Carl Pelini was thought to be a bright young coach with an outstanding future. It’s safe to say that he’s torpedoed his coaching career at least for the foreseeable future. Miami assistant James Coley and Cincinnati assistant Eddie Gran, who were on Jimbo Fisher’s staff at FSU last year, are thought to be the early targets to replace Pelini.


There are rumblings in the Great Northwest that Boise State coach Chris Peterson will seriously listen to offers this year. If he’s willing to leave his comfort zone, he can expect a call from Southern Cal athletic director Pat Haden. There is a lot of talk that San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman will get serious attention … If Bo Pelini is forced out at Nebraska, the first call will go to Oregon offensive coordinator and former Cornhuskers’ quarterback Scott Frost … Jon Gruden is being linked to both the Texas and Oakland Raiders’ jobs. The rumor coming out of Oakland is that Gruden would become head coach with the power to name is own general manager … Mack Brown’s job at Texas will be determined by the Baylor game. Win and he could be back next year. Lose and he’s a goner, especially if it’s a bad loss. In the event Brown gets the axe, the first call will go to Nick Saban. There are folks who say he will seriously listen, particularly if Texas offers the rumored $10 million. If Saban says no, the next calls likely go to Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton and FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher … A lot of scuttlebutt that Dan Mullen is ready to bolt Mississippi State.


Besides liking Florida in an upset over Georgia, I like South Carolina over Mississippi State, Aubrin over Ar-Kansas, Misery over Dollywood USA, My Old Kentucky Home over Alabama State and Texas Agricultural over UTEP.

Last week: 7-0

Season: 69-10



From the moment I heard “Morning Dance” I was a big fan of Spyro Gyra. That was back in the 1970s when they used to play regularly in Florida to get away from the cold winters in Buffalo. Over the years, I’ve probably seen them in concert more than any other band. Forty years into the gig, Jay Beckenstein, Tom Schumann and Julio Fernandez are still together creating a lot of Latin fusion. This is “Nu Songo,” one of my favorites and the song they opened their 1992 concert with at Florida Theater in Gainesville.

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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.