Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day Sept. 22

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

With Ron Zook the trigger word was correctable. Whenever the Gators screwed up, Zook – ever the optimist – would tell us that it was correctable. We heard correctable so many times that Zook was like the boy who cried wolf. At some point, fans and boosters simply tuned him out. With Will Muschamp, the trigger words are “it’s on me” and “we’ll get it fixed.”

Yes, it is on Will Muschamp and if fans haven’t already tuned him out, they’re getting close. And, if Muschamp doesn’t start getting things fixed, then it’s just a matter of time before his fate will be the same as Zook’s. It might not happen this year because Jeremy Foley is determined to give Muschamp the time he never gave Zook but it’s safe to say that Muschamp is on the clock and his time to deliver is now.

Foley does NOT want to fire Will Muschamp for reasons too many to mention here but that doesn’t mean the Gators can endure another season like last year’s 4-8. Foley is quick to mention that Muschamp is the coach who delivered an 11-2 record in 2012 and he has stated publicly that while there is no set number of wins that Muschamp has to deliver, “progress” must be made. Is “progress” eight wins? Nine wins? The Outback Bowl? The Liberty or Music City?

Okay, let’s talk progress.

In terms of discipline within the program, we’ve seen progress. The police blotter has been more devoid of Florida football players the last year than at any time since Steve Spurrier bolted for the NFL. That’s progress that everyone can be pleased with. Muschamp delivers in that area, but progress on the field is a different story.

In the two seasons in which his roster was dominated by Urban Meyer recruits, Muschamp is 18-8. In the full season and three games since, Muschamp is 6-9. Take away that 11-2 season in 2012 when it seemed the Gators got every fortuitous bounce possible – remember the blocked punt with two seconds left that gave the Gators a win over Louisiana-Lafayette? – and the Gators are 13-15. So while the first instinct is to point out that 11-2 season as a sterling example of what Muschamp is capable of doing, remember also that he won 11 games with a team in which 21 of the 24 starters were recruited by Urban Meyer. Go back to the 6-9 since 2012 that we talked about earlier and that’s with teams dominated by players Muschamp recruited so the on the field progress is minimal at best.

And when we talk about progress these days we talk about measuring the Florida program against those at Alabama and Florida State. Alabama dominates the SEC. Florida State dominates the state. Those teams are built to compete for national championships and while they aspire for the top rung on the ladder the Gators are hoping to win enough games to be bowl-eligible. Maybe bowl-eligible is a sign of progress but how much longer can the Gators tread water like that while Bama and Florida State are winning at the highest levels? The way Alabama is dominating in the SEC we measure Florida’s progress in dog years. For every year Bama competes for a national title, it seems the Gators fall seven years behind. For Florida to be a championship program the Gators have to be competing and recruiting at the same level as Alabama in the SEC and FSU in the state. To get to that level, it’s going to take a whole lot of progress.

There was no progress Saturday. Instead it was like the start of “60 Minutes.” The stopwatch was punched and began ticking. Loudly.

RANKING THE SEC TOP TO BOTTOM

(1) Alabama (4-0, 1-0 SEC): Either Lane Kiffin has learned how to coach in the last nine months or else he has a pretty good clue how to scheme an offense. Alabama’s defense is starting to dominate, too.

(2) Auburn (3-0, 1-0 SEC): The Tigers had to beat K-State with their passing game. Expect eight in the box until Nick Marshall proves he can make all the throws and back the safeties off the line of scrimmage.

(3) Texas A&M (4-0, 1-0 SEC): So far nobody has been able to hang with the Aggies, but they haven’t played a real defense yet. Still, they’re really impressive.

(4) Ole Miss (3-0, 1-0 SEC): The #1 priority for the Rebels is keeping Bo Wallace healthy because when he’s on, they can score on anyone in the league.

(5) Mississippi State (4-0, 1-0 SEC): Right now you’d have to put Dak Prescott right up there with Amari Cooper and Todd Gurley in the talk about who’s the best player in the league. As long as he’s healthy, the Bulldogs are a serious threat.

(6) LSU (3-1, 0-1 SEC): The bad news Saturday was the Tigers lost. The good news is they have found their quarterback in Brandon Harris, who makes them extremely dangerous moving forward.

(7) Georgia (2-1, 0-1 SEC): Defensively, they can’t cover anyone. Offensively, they have a coordinator who doesn’t seem to understand that it’s a good idea to give Todd Gurley the ball 25 times a game.

(8) South Carolina (3-1, 2-1 SEC): The Gamecocks are going to have to win shootouts because this defense is made up of matadors and their special teams (two KO returns for TDs allowed against Vandy) are abysmal.

(9) Tennessee (2-1, 0-0 SEC): The Vols have a defense that is only going to get better. They might be able to score enough to win games when Justin Worley remembers to hang on to the ball and throw it to the people wearing the same color shirt he’s wearing.

(10) Arkansas (3-1, 0-1 SEC): They aren’t just going to line up and blow people off the ball in the SEC games, but no question, the Hogs are improved although nobody might notice Saturday. Texas A&M is coming to town.

(11) Florida (2-1, 0-1 SEC): Defense is supposed to be Florida’s strong point, yet the Gators have given up 1,085 yards in the last two games and 814 have come through the air. The new and improved offense has produced four offensive touchdowns in regulation in the last two games.

(12) Missouri (3-1, 0-0 SEC): When you lose to Indiana you’re not a very good football team. Missouri lost to Indiana. The Tigers aren’t very good even though they’re 3-1.

(13) Kentucky (2-1, 0-1 SEC): The Wildcats host Vanderbilt Saturday. This is a must win situation because they haven’t won an SEC game since November 26, 2011.

(14) Vanderbilt (1-3, 0-2 SEC): Are the Commodores getting better or is South Carolina just that bad on defense and special teams?

THE AP POLL

Florida State remained in first place in the Associated Press poll even though the Seminoles got three fewer votes for the top spot. Alabama, which remained in third place, got six first place votes after its 42-21 win over Florida. Last week the Crimson Tide got one first place vote.

(1) Florida State; (2) Oregon; (3) Alabama; (4) Oklahoma; (5) Auburn; (6) Texas A&M; (7) Baylor; (8) Notre Dame; (9) Michigan State; (10) Ole Miss; (11) UCLA; (12) Georgia; (13) South Carolina; (14) Mississippi State; (15) Arizona State; (16) Stanford; (17) LSU; (18) USC; (19) Wisconsin; (20) BYU; (21) Nebraska; (22) Ohio State; (23) East Carolina; (24) Oklahoma State; (25) Kansas State.

IF I HAD A VOTE

My mover and shaker would be Mississippi State, which nearly paid a dear price for celebrating too early at Tiger Stadium. Even though they should have won by 30, just getting a win at LSU says a lot about how good this team is. Florida State would remain #1 with Alabama and Auburn on the Seminoles’ heels.

(1) Florida State; (2) Alabama; (3) Auburn; (4) Oklahoma: (5) Texas A&M; (6) Oregon; (7) Baylor; (8) Ole Miss; (9) Notre Dame; (10) Stanford; (11) Mississippi State; (12) LSU; (13) Georgia; (14) Arizona State; (15) South Carolina; (16) UCLA; (17) Michigan State; (18) Oklahoma State; (19) Kansas State; (20) BYU; (21) East Carolina; (22) USC; (23) Wisconsin; (24) Ohio State; (25) Nebraska.

RANKING THE POWER FIVE (PLUS NOTRE DAME)

The Big Ten went 12-1 out of conference including two wins over ACC teams (Iowa over Pitt and Maryland over Syracuse) along with Indiana’s win over Missouri. That moves the Big Ten up a notch and drops the ACC to bottom feeder status.

1. SEC
2. BIG 12
3. Notre Dame
4. Pac-12
5. Big Ten
6. ACC

WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE?

Ray Rice cold cocked his then fiancée (now wife) in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino. It was caught on video that went viral and now Ray Rice has lost his high paying job as the star running back of the Baltimore Ravens. Everybody is outraged and some are saying he should never be allowed to play football again. Ray Rice could turn into the male version of Mother Teresa and change the lives of 10,000 people but no matter what he does the rest of his life, he’s been branded as a wife beater. Wherever he goes the rest of his life, people will point a finger.

Hope Solo, the star goalie for the US women’s national soccer team with an unprecedented 73 shutouts, was arrested earlier this year for domestic abuse for attacking her sister and her nephew when she was drunk. Solo kept playing in the net for her pro team, the Seattle Reign, and for the US team that is currently playing qualifying matches for next year’s Women’s World Cup. Why isn’t everyone outraged? Where are all the media talking heads screaming that she should lose her job and be banned from playing?

In no way should we condone what Ray Rice did, but media reaction to Rice and other NFL players with domestic abuse problems while Hope Solo gets a pass is flat out wrong. If you’re going to trash Ray Rice then why not make a public example of Hope Solo?

And think about this. Will taking away Ray Rice’s ability to make a living lessen the chances that he’ll strike a woman again? By letting Hope Solo play does it lessen the chances that she’ll get drunk again and take it out on a nephew whose only crime was that Hope thought he was too fat? We have a problem with domestic violence in this country and it is not confined to the National Football League nor is it simply a male issue although you would never know it if you see how our media has handled these two cases.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Based on what you’ve seen the first four weeks of the season, are the Gators better than they were last year, about the same or even worse?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

We tend to associate the pedal steel guitar with the country music that originates out of Texas, but Robert Randolph is anything but country. He takes the pedal steel to all new levels and has put together a tremendous band that plays a concert that you hope will never end. This is “Run for Your Life” in a live performance on Austin City Limits back in 2012. The band will be playing the Fox Theater in Atlanta along with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Trace Adkins, Greg Allman, Warren Haynes and John Hiatt on November 12.


Fightin Gators Top Stories