Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; Nov. 13

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

A year ago asking Steve Spurrier if retirement is anything more than a distant blip on the radar was unthinkable. When you’ve won 11 games three straight years at a school with little in the way of positive football history, you don’t rock the boat. When you’re 69 years old, your team is 4-5 and on the verge of the first losing you’ve had as a head coach since that first year at Duke (5-6) in 1987, the gloves go off with the media.

Spurrier was asked Wednesday if Saturday’s game with Florida might be the last game he ever coaches in The Swamp.

Spurrier’s reply: "There’s a chance of about anything in life isn’t there?"

Some in the media have jumped on that rhetorical comment, claiming Spurrier isn’t ruling out the possibility that he might retire and while anything is indeed possible, some things just aren’t likely.

Spurrier inherited a train wreck from Lou Holtz 10 years ago. It took him five full seasons to change the football culture in the state from laissez-faire to the point that the faithful expect to win any time the Gamecocks take the field. When he took over, the thought of competing for championships was nothing more than a pipe dream in the state, which was owned by Clemson. In his ten years on the job, the Gamecocks have yet to win their first ever SEC title, but Spurrier is quick to point out South Carolina has won the state title five years running by whipping Clemson in the final game of the regular season.

Expectations were as high as they’ve ever been in Columbia this season, but the defense has been a total no show. South Carolina has blown two-touchdown leads in each of the last three SEC games, all of them losses. The offense, meanwhile, is playing at a very high level. The Gamecocks average 480 yards a game and rank 24th nationally in scoring. They are 106th in keeping teams off the scoreboard.

Spurrier is a very prideful coach and it’s hard to imagine that he would retire after such a disappointing season. The Gamecocks could win their last three games and then win a bowl game, but while finishing with an 8-5 record would salvage a bit of pride, those five losses would eat at Spurrier for the next nine months. And it’s entirely possible there will be more than five losses. The Gamecocks are really bad on defense.

It’s not like Spurrier to want to turn over a program that’s in bad shape. For all the talk that he left Ron Zook a bare cupboard, he did leave an All-American quarterback and 21 others who played at least a year in the NFL from a team that went 11-2 in 2001. If you’re into betting on things, you probably would win a bet if you put money on Spurrier staying at least two or three more years to get the program in good enough shape that he walks away with a legacy that isn’t tainted. If there is anyone on the planet who knows and understands a legacy, it’s Spurrier.

Spurrier could call it quits when this season ends. Again, anything is possible, but when it comes to Steve Spurrier and his own sense of coaching self-worth, then you have to believe he’s not going to call it quits after such a disappointing season.

THE APPLE DOESN’T FALL FAR FROM THE TREE

No matter what you think about Urban Meyer as the Ohio State head coach, you have to admit that few coaches have ever done a better job of playing the disrespect card. Remember the 2006 national championship game with Ohio State? Meyer and his staff were masterful the way they twisted and turned everything written about Ohio State to Florida’s advantage. There was an entire wall of material at the team hotel that the Gators had to pass by every time they stood in line to eat. By the time Monday arrived and foot hit the ball in Scottsdale, the Gators had this massive chip on their shoulder that they used to turn what was supposed to be a coronation of the unbeaten Buckeyes into a total stomping of epic proportions. That wasn’t the first or last time Meyer played the disrespect card, just the best known.

What does that have to do about November 13, 2014? Well, you can bet everything you hold sacred that the disrespect card is being played to the hilt in Starkville this week. While he’s not about to say it publicly because it would make for fine bulletin board material in Tuscaloosa, Dan Mullen is using everything being said or written that dismisses Mississippi State’s chances of beating Alabama Saturday afternoon to convince his team to play with a gigantic chip on their shoulders Saturday. It starts with the fact Mississippi State is unbeaten and ranked #1 nationally, yet the Bulldogs find themselves 8-point underdogs.

Mullen was part of the psychological warfare Meyer used to get the Gators ready to turn the mighty Buckeyes into pure mush back in 2006. When it comes to playing head games with his football team, Mullen is a chip off the Meyer block. He’s known as a coach who is more than willing to step on a few toes with his very blunt style and with that very northern accent his voice can sometimes seem like fingernails scraping a chalkboard. You can figure that right about now the Bulldogs have heard about all they want to hear about the mighty Crimson Tide. By the time Mississippi State takes the field Saturday the Bulldogs might be ready to tear someone’s head off, especially if it shuts up Dan Mullen.

IF THERE IS A FOUR-WAY TIE IN THE SEC WEST

When Alabama beat LSU in overtime last week, it ensured the SEC West wouldn’t turn into a five-way tie with Mississippi State, Alabama, Ole Miss, Auburn and LSU finishing the regular season with identical 6-2 records. LSU was eliminated but a nightmare scenario remains a possibility because Mississippi State, Alabama, Ole Miss and Auburn could still finish 6-2.

For that to happen, Alabama would have to beat Mississippi State this week and then lose the Iron Bowl to Auburn.

In addition to losing to Alabama, Mississippi State would have to lose at Ole Miss in Oxford Thanksgiving weekend.

Ole Miss would have to beat Arkansas in Fayetteville then knock off Mississippi State.

Auburn would have to beat Georgia this week and then spoil an Alabama championship for a second straight year by winning the Iron Bowl.

So, who wins the SEC West in the event of a four-way tie? The tiebreakers would give the title to Auburn.

MEANWHILE AT THE SCHOOL OUT WEST …

Here is the latest from that bastion of academic and ethical integrity 140 miles west of Gainesville.

The student conduct code hearing for Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston that was scheduled for November 17 has been postponed and rescheduled for December 1. Winston’s high-priced Atlanta attorney (wonder where he gets the money to pay for David Cornwell?) requested the delay because he claimed he didn’t have sufficient time to review evidence that could be presented at the hearing. This is a Title IX case in which Winston faces as many as four student conduct code violations that could result in his dismissal from FSU.

The hearing will take place two days after the Seminoles face Florida in their final regular season game in Tallahassee and will be heard by retired Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Major Harding. Per Mark Schlabach of ESPN, FSU student conduct rules say the school will provide Winston with a written decision within 10 days of the hearing or later “if additional consideration of evidence and deliberation is required.” Winston will also have the right to appeal any decision.

The delay ensures that Winston will be able to play all regular season games and the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game. Of course, if there is an appeal or that additional consideration is required, a decision could be delayed until the middle of January or beyond, which means Winston could skate and FSU could have Winston available all the way through the national championship game. Imagine that.

Winston wasn’t the only Seminole in the news Wednesday. The Tallahassee Police Department, that bastion of integrity which completely botched the evidence in the alleged rape case that involved Jameis Winston, is no longer investigating running back Karlos Williams, who was accused of assaulting his pregnant ex-girlfriend back in October. The former girlfriend and alleged victim, posted three photos on Facebook that showed some bruising but two days later refused to make a statement or press charges against Williams. She’s not talking and the TPD isn’t investigating. Barring injury, Williams will play in every game moving forward. Imagine that.

A BIG GAME IN Miami?

You might think the possibility of knocking off last year’s national champ and ending Florida State’s 25-game winning streak would have the folks in South Florida working up a lather for Saturday night. As of Wednesday, there were still a few thousand tickets still available.

Miami coach Al Golden was taken aback at the suggestion that the game at Sun Life Stadium might seem like it’s played on a neutral site since FSU will have the Marching Chiefs and probably half the fans in attendance.

“Obviously we have great fans,” Golden said Tuesday. “We’re excited to be home and playing at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday.”

Great fans would buy so many tickets that FSU fans would be paying top dollar on StubHub or other scalping outlets just to get in the stadium. They’ll make up half the crowd Saturday. Count on it.

No matter how many FSU fans are in the stands, Miami does have a chance to knock off the Seminoles, who started the week 4-1/2-point favorites. That spread had dipped to 1-1/2 points by Wednesday evening.

BIG OOPS BY Michigan PRESIDENT

Maybe Michigan’s president should pay more attention to what’s going on in his athletic department. Early in the week Mark Schlissel told a group of university employees that he is taking his time in the search for a new athletic director to replace Dave Brandon because he wants to find someone who shares his vision of academic integrity. The Michigan student newspaper also reported that Schlissel said the university admits football players who are ill prepared to compete in the classroom.

There’s only one problem with those allegations which implied that football coach Brady Hoke runs a rather loose ship when it comes to academic progress – they aren’t anywhere close to the truth.

All 69 of the seniors who Hoke has coached have graduated and the team’s academic progress rate (APR) is 975, which is the highest in school history and well above the NCAA’s minimum standards.

Schlissel apologized to Hoke but apologies don’t really cut it. Hoke is under serious fire from Michigan fans and boosters who want him fired. Every Michigan fan heard about or read Schilssel’s initial remarks. How many do you think actually paid attention to the apology?

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Would you be surprised if Steve Spurrier decided to call it a career after this season?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

One of the things I always liked best about the Moody Blues was their willingness to expand their own musical horizons. Their music went beyond the pale whether it was depth of the lyrics or their willingness to use a full orchestra to back them up. My first memory of the Moody Blues was in the spring of 1965 when I was car pooling to McComb Junior High School and “Go Now” was playing on WNOE. It was a test day and I hadn’t studied. I tried to fake a sore throat but my mom wouldn’t hear anything of it and the last thing I remember her saying was “go now” so when the song played on the radio it seemed like a voice from heaven. I aced Coach Tryce Barber’s history test that day. My favorite album of the Moody Blues is their 1972 release “Seventh Sojourn” which featured “Isn’t Life Strange.” Yes, it was. This version of the song features a full symphony orchestra.


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