Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day Oct. 8

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

Basically, it’s not a big deal that backup quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg and freshman defensive end Gerald Willis got into a fight over a pair of cleats. There are reports that Mornhinweg thought Willis stole a pair of his cleats and Willis took exception to the accusation even though the cleats were found in his locker. Big deal. It’s not a sign that the locker room is collapsing or that Will Muschamp has lost control of his team.

Consider this: You’ve got more than 80 kids on scholarship living in close quarters, spending hours upon hours with each other every day while playing a sport in which high testosterone levels and macho attitudes are the norm not the exception. You can preach all you want to about team chemistry, brotherly love and good locker room karma until you’re blue in the face. It doesn’t change the fact that over the course of a football season that begins in August and doesn’t end until September that stuff happens and sometimes it’s settled with a fight.

The only thing that makes this fight an issue is the timing. If it hadn’t happened the same day that Treon Harris was suspended from the team for an alleged sexual assault on a woman this wouldn’t be anything more than a two sentence blip in some reporter’s notes. That it happened on a day when the quarterback hero of the Tennessee game was suspended and the fight involved another quarterback is the only thing that makes this incident unique.

If you’ve ever followed a college football team closely and been privy to what goes on during practice and off the field, then you know that there are fights, scuffles, arguments, disagreements, hurt feelings and grudges. The only time you worry about something like this is when you have a divided locker room and there is an us against them mentality from within the team. There is no evidence that there is any kind of divide in Florida’s locker room, so don’t lose sleep over this incident.

NOBODY MORE DESERVING THAN DANNY

At the shiny new College Football Hall of Fame, which has been permanently relocated to Atlanta, they inducted 14 new members to the exclusive club Tuesday night including Danny Wuerffel, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1996 while leading the Gators to the national championship with a 52-20 win over Florida State. If you go by what he accomplished on the college playing fields and the kind of exemplary life he has lived in the years since, there is no more deserving member of the College Football Hall of Fame. At some point so many of Danny’s football records will be broken, but nobody will ever be a better example of living life the right way.

KEVIN SCARBINSKY SAID IT

The columnist for the Birmingham News believes the Alabama football dynasty created by Nick Saban is in decline. In his Tuesday column, Scarbinsky said:

“The evidence is far from conclusive that Alabama’s dynasty is in decline, let alone done, but there is evidence and history to consider. No empire lives forever. It remains to be seen whether Saban and company can hold off gravity, not to mention Auburn and the state of Mississippi just a little bit longer.

AROUND THE SEC

Things we know heading into week seven of the season:

#7 Alabama (4-1, 1-1 SEC): The Bama defense is stout against the run, allowing only 64 yards per game, but there are some cracks in the pass defense. Over on the offensive side, Ole Miss exposed quarterback Blake Sims. He’s a guy who can manage a game for you but don’t depend on him to win one. There are also injury problems, but even with all the issues, Nick Saban is still the best at piecing things together and making adjustments on the fly.

Alabama is an 11-point favorite on the road at Arkansas.

Arkansas (3-2, 0-2 SEC): The Razorbacks can run the football but they have a very limited passing game that will bite them against teams that find a way to stuff the run. As improved as Brandon Allen is, he’s still not a quarterback who is going to beat you. Over on the defensive side, the lack of a pass rush is killing the Hogs in coverage.

Arkansas is an 11-point home underdog to Alabama.

#2 Auburn (5-0, 2-0 SEC): The LSU game was Auburn’s wakeup call. Until then, the Tigers had been playing bored and it showed on the offensive side of the ball. Against LSU, Nick Marshall played like the Nick Marshall who killed people the second half of last season. That’s not good news for the rest of the league. Right now, Auburn is the SEC’s most complete team on offense, defense and the kicking game.

Auburn is a 3-point favorite on the road at Mississippi State.

Georgia (4-1, 2-1 SEC): Georgia has one of the two or three best players in all of college football in Todd Gurley, but the Bulldogs have an inadequate quarterback in Hutson Mason and a secondary with no depth and very little in the way of coverage skills. Given the status of the secondary, Georgia is probably going to have to win some shootouts in the last seven games and that might be hard to do with Mason making the throws. That has everything with Mark Richt going to a two-quarterback system so he can redshirt freshman Brice Ramsey on the field.

Georgia is a 3-point favorite on the road at Missouri.

Kentucky (4-1, 2-1 SEC): As impressed as everyone is that the Wildcats are 4-1 at this stage of the season, they really haven’t beaten anyone yet so nobody really knows how good they are. Still, with a win Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe of the Sun Belt Conference, they will be only one win away from bowl eligibility. Getting bowl eligible could actually be bad news for the Wildcats because it might mean some power program where football is a priority might make head coach Mark Stoops an offer he can’t refuse.

Kentucky is a 22-point favorite at home against Louisiana-Monroe.

LSU (4-2, 0-2 SEC): That LSU regularly plays the 17 freshmen on the two deep should tell you that this is going to be a training wheels year while the Tigers figure out what the heck they’re doing. Figure LSU will be in the national title hunt next year. As for this year, there will be games when the Tigers are as good as anyone in the country and games when they can be beaten by anyone.

LSU is a 2-point favorite on the road at Florida

#3 (Tie) Mississippi State (5-0, 2-0 SEC): Nobody was listening when Dan Mullen said he had a real contender to win the SEC back during SEC Media Days. Folks should have listened. Mississippi State can move the ball on anyone and if the pass defense ever comes around, the Bulldogs will be as good as anyone in the nation. If Dak Prescott comes up big this weekend and the Bulldogs beat Auburn, he will have the three most impressive wins by any quarterback in the country and that could catapult him to #1 contender in the Heisman trophy balloting.

Mississippi State is a 3-point home underdog to Auburn.

#23 Missouri (4-1, 1-0 SEC): Missouri is 4-1 and the only team in the SEC East that hasn’t lost a conference game. The Tigers still haven’t beaten anybody and they do have an unexplainable loss to a bad Indiana team on their non-league resume so the jury is definitely out. They are the best pass rushing team in the league but they are susceptible to the run and that could be their Achilles, particularly this week when Georgia comes to town.

Missouri is a 3-point home underdog to Georgia.

#3 (Tie) Ole Miss (5-0, 2-0 SEC): The Rebels have the best defense in the SEC. They have a ball hawking secondary and a front seven that had no problems bottling up Alabama’s running game. The concerns are over on the offensive side of the ball where they have problems running the ball, especially in third and short yardage situations. There are no problems throwing it, however, as long as Bo Wallace stays upright.

Ole Miss is a 2-point road dog at Texas A&M.

South Carolina (3-3, 2-3 SEC): No team ever needed a bye week worse than the Gamecocks. The defense stinks and it is spilling over to the offense, which feels the pressure to score every possession to compensate for how bad the defense is. When teams feel they have to score every time, they start making mistakes and we’re seeing Dylan Thompson cracking a bit under the pressure to produce.

South Carolina is idle this week.

Tennessee (2-3, 0-2 SEC): With a win Saturday, the Vols are halfway to bowl eligibility, which would be quite a milestone for a team that plays 46 true freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores. There are still quarterback issues and the offensive line has problems with any team that has speed coming off the edge. The defense has been solid all season and is only going to get better.

There is no line on Tennessee’s game with D1AA Chattanooga.

#14 Texas A&M (5-1, 1-1 SEC): The Aggies can score on anybody. Anybody can score on the Aggies. Other than the fact it’s Kenny Hill throwing the passes and not Johnny Manziel, nothing has really changed on the offensive side of the ball. The Aggies do rush the passer better than they did last year but that’s about the only noticeable improvement over on defense. If the Aggies can’t win shootouts in upcoming games against the SEC West they are in trouble.

Texas A&M is a 2-point favorite at home against Ole Miss.

Vanderbilt (1-5, 0-4 SEC): James Franklin spent three years turning Vanderbilt into a team capable of competing with just about anyone in the SEC. Derek Mason has spent seven weeks proving that all good things must come to an end. Vandy has gone from enlightened to back into football’s dark ages.

There is no line on Vanderbilt’s game with D1AA Charleston Southern.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Isaac Nunta, the top tight end in the country for the recruiting class of 2016, will be moving from Buford, Georgia to Jacksonville in December because of his dad’s job. He’s expected to enroll at Bolles … Michigan State coach Mark D’Antonio thinks the Big Ten’s television drawing power will get the conference champ in the national title playoff. That will probably be the only way a Big Ten team gets in. The league stinks … Colorado coach Mike McIntyre is the latest head coach to get fined for criticizing the zebras. He took a $10,000 hit to the wallet for his remarks about the officiating in CU’s 36-31 loss to Oregon StateIowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard picked up a $25,000 fine for criticizing officials following the ISU-Oklahoma State game … Dillon Day, the Mississippi State center who missed last week’s Texas A&M game while serving an SEC-imposed suspension for stomping an LSU player, will return for Saturday’s game with Auburn.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Given the way last season ended for Alabama (two straight losses) and the way the Crimson Tide lost to Ole Miss last Saturday, do you think we are starting to see the end of the Nick Saban dynasty?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

David Sanborn took up the saxophone to strengthen his lungs after a bout with polio when he was a kid. Obviously this was a match made in musical heaven. Sanborn’s career began at age 14 when he was playing with Albert King. After college he joined the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and has toured with Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel and The Eagles among others. Sanborn has turned out 29 albums and won six Grammys along the way. This is “A Tear for Crystal” off Sanborn’s highly acclaimed “Backstreet” album from 1992.


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