Franz Beard's thoughts of the day July 17

A few thoughts to jump start your Thursday morning...

THE Michael Jordan OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL?

Leonard Fournette has yet to play his first college football game but already LSU head coach Les Miles says his freshman tailback could be the Michael Jordan of college football. At SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama, Wednesday, Miles said, “He [Fournette] expects himself to be something special. I think if you look at Michael Jordan, he could not have been coached to be Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan accepted the role of expecting him to be better than any.”

Better than any? The kid is good, no question about that, but better than any? He still hasn’t carried the ball in the SEC nor has he been hit by SEC linebackers. Ask Knowshon Moreno (now of the Denver Broncos) just how good it feels to have a 250-pound human missile like Brandon Spikes decleat you. The SEC is filled with guys like that.

Okay, so maybe you have a hard time equating Fournette to MJ. How about Adrian Peterson, the best running back in the National Football League? LSU running back Terrence Magee, who averaged 7.3 yards per carry last year for the Tigers, thinks Fournette might be the best running back not named Peterson in all of football, college or pro.

“Who wouldn’t want to play in a backfield with a guy like that?” Magee replied when asked about Fournette. “He has been compared to Adrian Peterson. To be honest, I think it’s the only guy that’s playing the running back position right now that you can compare [Fournette] to.”

Dating back to his high school days at St. Augustine in New Orleans, Fournette has been constantly compared to Herschel Walker, who led Georgia to a national championship his freshman year in 1980, and Auburn Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson. We don’t know for sure if Fournette will be anything close to Peterson, Walker or Jackson but if he’s anything remotely close, then he’s going to be something to behold.

But this is July and we’re still seven weeks from the start of college football. At least let him play a game or two before we start giving him icon status.

QUOTABLE FROM SEC MEDIA DAYS

Les Miles on Tiger Stadium’s expansion to 102,000:

“If you thought we were loud before, we just got louder.”

Les Miles on LSU’s chances against a brutal schedule that includes Alabama, Auburn and Florida on the road:

“I like us and I like us in every game.”

Les Miles on LSU putting so many players in the NFL: “The program is graduating our guys at 70%. We’re going to put 16 juniors in the NFL the last two years. We played what was 19 true freshmen in the last two years. 95 victories, 60 drafted, which is second only to one other team not in our conference and 13 first rounders. So, we’re a program of achievers.”

LSU left tackle La’el Collins on why he came back for his senior year: “Just coming out of that tunnel and walking down that long walk from the top of the hill to the stadium. They expanded our stadium, making it even louder, even bigger. Why wouldn’t I want to be a part of that one more time? It’s just that one percent of my life that I’ll never get back. Just doing it one more time, I’m excited about it.”

Bret Bielema on why he thinks Arkansas will be better than last year’s 3-9: “I get excited because the things we’ve done have shown they can win in this league. Year two, although we don’t know the record yet, my full heart belief is it’s going to be better than year one. That’s going to be determined on a weekly basis, but I do know it’s going to get better.”

Arkansas defensive end Trey Flowers on learning another defensive scheme: “If I can learn four defenses in four years, it shows how coachable I am.”

Patric Young has been so impressive in summer league play for the New Orleans Pelicans that NBA sources told John Reid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he will be extended a contract for the 2014-15 NBA season. With backup center Jason Smith signed to a one-year contract to join the New York Knicks, Patric seems to have a position ready and waiting for him in New Orleans. In a Summer League game last Sunday when he went head-to-head with Julius Randle, Patric matched Randle’s scoring total (10) and outrebounded the former Kentucky star 6-2. Patric had an 11-point, 13-rebound game against the NBA Development League team. Says New Orleans head coach Bryan Gates, “From a coaching standpoint, you always love that guy who wants to get in there and set screens and rebound and play around the rim.”

FINEBAUM SAYS

In a soon-to-be-released book, Paul Finebaum and co-author Gene Wojchiechowski contend that the University of Texas was prepared to offer Nick Saban $100 million to leave Alabama to coach the Longhorns. “Texas was dead serious about trying to money-whip Saban” says the book, which claims Texas was prepared to offer between a $12-15 million signing bonus and the $100 million salary package. Some folks, like CBSSports.com’s Tom Fornelli, say they have a hard time believing it considering Finebaum is one of the book’s authors, citing the Finebaum radio show and its zany cast of call-in characters as reason for doubt. But, before he became a radio star and a place where Mildred could call in and vent, Finebaum was the best college football reporter in the country, not just the south. This is one case where if Finebaum said it, I believe.

James Franklin BACKLASH

Vanderbilt defensive tackle Adam Butler took a shot at former Vandy coach James Franklin at SEC Media Days, claiming that Franklin was somewhat disingenuous when he repeatedly told his team he wasn’t going anywhere and that he was fully committed to Vanderbilt only to take the Penn State job. How deep are the wounds Franklin left behind? “I don’t want to say I’m glad Coach Franklin is gone but then again I am,” Butler told CBSSports.com at SEC Media Days. Butler said he would have respect for Franklin if the former coach had said Penn State offered this much money rather than constantly claiming he was staying in Nashville.

DEION’S SCHOOL MIGHT GET SHUTTERED

Prime Prep Academy, the charter school with three locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that is owned by Deion Sanders, is about to be shuttered by the Texas Board of Education. Although some of the four and five-star basketball players coming out of Prime Prep have had some serious eligibility issues with the NCAA – most recently Emmanuel Mudiay, who is going to play next year in Europe rather than go through the scrutiny by the NCAA – the chief reason the school is losing its charter has to do with shoddy record keeping, how students are housed and fed and lack of accountability when it comes to funding. Deion plans to appeal.

FASHION STATEMENT

In a funny column about college basketball fashion, ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neill rails against teams that wear uniforms that aren’t the school colors, sleeved jerseys and a few other things. My favorite is her stance against players wearing tights. O’Neill wrote, “They’re spandex. Add a pair of leg warmers and you’ve got a Jane Fonda workout tape.” I agree. And while we’re about it, someone needs to reel in the football uniform designers at Nike, adidas and Under Armour. I have the utmost respect for the schools that have stood up to the shoe companies and their must be on drugs fashion departments. Most of these uniform designs are downright hideous. The only time I agreed with Nike on an alternative uniform was the throwback uniforms the Gators wore against Alabama at The Swamp in 2006. Those were classy, unlike those horrendous concoctions they made the Gators wear against Georgia that same year and the ugly creations the Gators wore against FSU in 2009.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

No shock here but Deng Adel (6-7, 180, Melbourne, Australia/Bradenton, FL Victory Christian) committed to Louisville. He listed Florida as one of his favorites, but there was very little chance he was going anywhere but Louisville ... At a practice round for the British Open, which starts today, John Daly wore pants emblazoned with the images of Sponge Bob Square Pants and pink golf shoes ... University of Memphis basketball coach Josh Pastner has hired Keelon Lawson as an assistant. That’s significant because Lawson’s son, K.J. is a highly regarded freshman already enrolled at Memphis and sons Dedric (6-9, class of 2016) and Chandler (already 6-6, class of 2019) are now all but committed ... Texas could have some problems with the NCAA after agent James Bingham tweeted about having dinner with four current Texas football players. The tweets were deleted but not before Texas compliance saw them and self-reported ... Georgia booted forward Brandon Morris off the team after a marijuana arrest. Morris was suspended three games last season for an undisclosed violation of team rules that most suspected was drug-related ... Auburn admitted to 21 secondary NCAA violations over the past 12 months ... The District Attorney in Boston says there is evidence that Aaron Hernandez’s fiancée lied and might have covered up evidence.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Leonard Fournette is being hyped as the best running back since Herschel. Who is the best collegiate running back you’ve ever seen either in person or on TV?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

The Honey Island Swamp Band has its musical origins in New Orleans, but it actually came together in post-Katrina San Francisco where five Nawlins refugees started playing together at John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom Room. You can tell the New Orleans influence of Dr. John in their music, but listen to Chris Mule’ on the slide guitar and you’ll also hear a lot of post-Duane Allman Brothers, too. This is “Prodigal Son” from their 2013 album “Cane Sugar,” a song that has a lot of Allman Brothers’ influence.


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