Franz Beard's thoughts of the day July 23

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

MUSCHAMP PREDICTS GATORS WILL WIN SEC EAST

For a coach who’s seat is supposed to be the hottest in all the country, Florida’s Will Muschamp seems oblivious to all the talk that he’s feeling the heat in Gainesville. Appearing on ESPN’s Sports Center “Car Wash” edition that featured SEC football coaches, Muschamp said, “I feel really good about our football team going to Atlanta, I really do. Later in the day on ESPN Radio, Muschamp was asked if there is a favorite to win the SEC East. His response: “Yeah, I think Florida.”

You might think that’s mighty bold talk for a coach who finished 4-8 the year before with one of those season-ending seven straight losses to the likes of Georgia Southern, but Muschamp is simply doing what he needs to do to get his team ready for what has to be one of the four or five toughest schedules in the nation. Teams respond to a confident coach and while opponents and some fans might think Muschamp’s comments were rather brash, Muschamp’s players will view it differently. They’ll see a coach who is confident enough in their abilities that he’s predicting a championship.

Some folks might like a coach who is quiet and never says anything that isn’t the football equivalent of politically correct. As for me, I like that Muschamp is sounding a bit cocky. It reminds me of good days in the not so recent past.

I grew accustomed to Steve Spurrier for 12 years. Opponents hoped they could beat the Gators. Spurrier knew he was going to win and didn’t mind letting everyone on the planet know he expected nothing less than a smashing victory. I loved it when Spurrier threw out playful jabs at his own team when the Gators only won by five or six touchdowns and failed to score 50 points. Urban Meyer wasn’t as brash as Spurrier, but those first five years he was in Gainesville he oozed confidence. The Seminoles hated him. The Bulldogs hated him. Everybody hated him except his team and Gator fans. It was the same way in the Spurrier years.

So I like seeing it when Will Muschamp isn’t afraid to let his confidence show through. I like it when I hear him say quarterback Jeff Driskel will have a “breakout year.” I like it when he predicts championships.

I’d much rather see Muschamp aim high. When you aim low you usually hit your target.

“THE TALKING SEASON”

That’s what Steve Spurrier calls the summer months when there is no football. Spurrier is famous for taking his shots whenever there is a handy microphone but so is cross-state rival Dabo Swinney of Clemson. Both have been in rare form this week. Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher also got into it and that caused Baylor’s Art Briles to respond.

At ACC Football Kickoff in Greensboro, Swinney took a shot at Maryland football coach Randy Edsall, who said the Terps are leaving a basketball conference to join the Big Ten.

“I wish him well,” Swinney said. “I think we just played Ohio State [in the Orange Bowl]. Aren’t they from that conference?” Clemson won that game, 40-35.

Swinney on his relationship with Spurrier, Swinney said, “He’s from Pluto, I’m from Mars.”

Spurrier responded, “Dabo probably things there’s only what, nine planets out there? I think I read where Pluto may not be considered one now.”

At ACC Football Kickoff, Fisher took a jab at the Big 12 Conference, which is the only power five league that doesn’t have a championship game.

“And by the way, I think every conference should have one (championship game). We got a championship where not everyone plays the same number of games and does the same things. I think it’s ridiculous.”

That got a Twitter response from former FSU quarterback, Clint Trickett, now of West Virginia: “Hey mind ur business jimmy.”

That got Art Briles, the Baylor coach to respond, “He [Fisher] needs to worry about the ACC. Don’t come to Texas telling me how to do my business.”

GEORGIA LOSES ANOTHER DEFENSIVE PLAYER

Georgia fans thought they pulled off a real coup last year when they snatched defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt from national champ Florida State after he had been on the job only one season. They’re probably starting to wonder just what kind of depth he’s going to have in the fall, however, after yet another defensive player punched his exit ticket. Jonathan Taylor, a 6-4, 335-pound nose tackle who was expected to have a really big season for the Bulldogs, was arrested Tuesday morning for felony aggravated assault/family violence. This could land Taylor in the big house since he was arrested and charged with fraud back in March for cashing student stipend checks twice. He entered a pre-trial intervention program for that one which means he’s on probation. That means this latest arrest might get hard time. Police reports from Athens say that Taylor was in a “cohabitation” relationship (I guess that’s why they call them co-ed dorms) with a Georgia student in a UGa dorm when things got violent.

With Taylor gone for sure, Georgia is down five key players from the defensive side of the ball, either arrested, suspended or transferred: defensive end Justin Houston, safety Tray Matthews, cornerback Shaq Wiggins and safety Josh Harvey-Clemons. There are still eight days remaining in July and the whole month of August, so it’s possible someone else will drop off the depth chart for a suspension or an arrest or a transfer. Defensive end James Deloach, who was arrested along with Taylor back in the spring, got off without a suspension after a pre-trial intervention.

DON’T WRITE OFF Louisville

Forget that it ended on such a tacky note at Arkansas and that he acted like a slug of a human the way he departed the Atlanta Falcons. Forget all that and remember only this: Bobby Petrino can flat out coach and you would be foolish to write off Louisville this year. Yes, the Cardinals are in the same Atlantic Coast Conference division with Florida State and Clemson, but if I had to win a game and my choices were Jimbo Fisher, Dabo Swinney and Bobby Petrino, I’d take Petrino every single time. Petrino won’t have Teddy Bridgewater nor will he have that Charlie Strong defense to work with this year, but any Petrino-coached team will put points on the board and just because Charlie is gone doesn’t mean all the defensive talent departed. Louisville will be very, very good this year and while the Cardinals might need the planets and stars to align to win the ACC, don’t automatically count them out. As long as Bobby Petrino is the coach, Louisville will have a chance.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Do you ever wonder what might have been if Andrew McCutcheon had come to Florida rather than signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates? Last year’s MVP is currently hitting .319 with 17 homers and 62 RBI. He’s a career .299 hitter with 120 big league homers and he’s just 27 years old ... The interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers says that if Donald Sterling remains the owner of the team, he’s as good as gone. Sterling, meanwhile has sued the NBA and his former wife for damages because they attempted to sell the team. When will this guy find a rock and crawl under it? ... Jay Paterno, a former Penn State assistant coach and son of the late Joe Paterno, and another former assistant, Bill Kenney, have sued the school, claiming they were improperly fired ... Former FSU quarterback Christian Ponder, now with the Minnesota Vikings, named his new daughter after former Seminole coach Bobby Bowden. She’s Bowden Sainte-Claire Ponder ... Emmanuel Mudiay, the point guard who elected to go abroad to play rather than face NCAA inquiries about his eligibility, signed a one-year deal to play in China for $1.2 million ... The Chicago Bulls are also trying to land Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves, but it’s likely the rebounding machine lands in Cleveland to play with LeBron James and Andrew Wiggins winds up in Minnesota.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Do you like Will Muschamp making bold predictions that the Gators will win the SEC East or do you wish he would bite his tongue and say nothing?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

Todd Rundgren’s strongest musical influence was the great blue-eyed soul singer/songwriter Laura Nyro. His songs bear a lot of her influence but also plenty of influence from the Philadelphian sounds of bands like the Stylistics and O’Jays. The song that got the most play from his 1970 album “Something, Anything” was “I Saw the Light” but the song I always liked most was “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference.” This is a terrific live performance of that song with Daryl Hall from a “Live at Daryl’s House” episode. You can catch “Live at Daryl’s House” on Palladia TV on most cable systems.


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