Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; Dec. 23

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

The next domino has probably fallen in Jim McElwain’s search for assistant coaches. When Colorado State hired Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, it meant CSU offensive coordinator/interim head coach Dave Baldwin was a free agent. You can almost bet the farm that he’ll be joining McElwain’s staff at Florida either as the offensive coordinator or the quarterbacks coach.

Here are a couple of rumors that seem to be growing legs:

1. Tight ends: It would seem it will be one of these two guys – Ron Middleton, currently the tight ends coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who was on the Alabama staff in 2007; and Art Valero, who worked for McElwain at Colorado State. It makes sense that it would be one of these two because they not only coach tight ends but they’re outstanding special teams coordinators.

2. Randy Shannon to Florida: He coaches the linebackers for Bret Bielema at Arkansas and he’s the fallback plan for defensive coordinator at Texas A&M. He’s a Miami native who reportedly wants to be closer to home. He has coached defensive line and linebackers and he has experience as a defensive coordinator. He could fit in as a linebackers coach because (a) new defensive coordinator Geoff Collins has coached the secondary and (b) Collins might elect to run a 3-4 scheme which would allow Shannon to coach outside linebackers/standup defensive ends. Shannon could also be a trump card for recruiting Miami and South Florida.

3. Wide receivers: Billy Napier’s name isn’t being heard much but these two names are – Mike Groh and Alvis Whitted. Groh will be a free agent after Sunday when the Chicago Bears finish another season belly up. He coached with McElwain at Alabama. Whitted worked for McElwain at CSU and turned Rashard Higgins into one of the best wide receivers in the nation.

4. Running backs: There was talk about former Gator Robert Gillispie leaving Tennessee to come home, but that has faded rather quickly and the two names that keep popping up are JaJuan Seider, the running backs coach at West Virginia and a Belle Glade native, and John Settle, the running backs coach at Pitt. Settle has the option of staying at Pitt and going with Paul Chryst to Wisconsin.

If Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi takes the Pitt job, it could open the door for D.J. Durkin. Durkin, who played his college football at Bowling Green for Urban Meyer, is a hot property these days with serious offers to take over the defensive coordinator job at both North Carolina and Texas A&M. With several Urban Meyer assistants on the move, Durkin could also wind up in Columbus as a co-coordinator.

DONOVAN DOING ONE OF HIS BETTER COACHING JOBS

Billy Donovan must wonder what it would be like to coach a basketball game with a full bench. Through 11 games, Donovan has yet to send the Gators onto the floor with all their available scholarship players healthy and eligible. They should have been at full strength this past Saturday when they beat Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl Classic. Alex Murphy was finally eligible but Eli Carter was out with strep throat so Donovan was still down a man.

The depth issue has been an ongoing problem and even though it has forced Donovan at times to go with some rather unorthodox combinations on the floor, the defense hasn’t suffered. Through 11 games only two teams have scored more than 70 points and nobody has shot better than 50% from the field. Opponents are scoring only 55.5 points per game and they’re hitting only 38.6% from the field and 30.6% from the 3-point line.

Although the Gators remain an offensive work in progress, that, too, should improve dramatically in the next 4-5 games. When Carter is healthy he gives the Gators another true scorer beside Michael Frazier and with Murphy eligible, it gives Donovan a versatile 6-8 who not only adds some defensive toughness and rebounding but offensive versatility. He can score from the wing, shoot the 3-ball, run the baseline and play the high post.

Through 11 games, one of Donovan’s better coaching jobs is unfolding. Florida’s 7-4 record might be a disappointment in some eyes, but it’s outstanding considering the Gators have played a rather difficult pre-conference schedule at times with only six scholarship players available. If Donovan can get them all healthy and keep them that way, the offense will improve. Combine that with another outstanding defensive team and the Gators should be good enough to at least get to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in March.

WHAT IF HARBAUGH SAYS NO?

Michigan is willing to pay Jim Harbaugh $48 million dollars over the next eight seasons to make the Wolverines relevant once again. Since forcing Lloyd Carr out after the 2007 season, Michigan has fallen on hard times and has become the mat on which Ohio State and Michigan State wipe their feet. While the Wolverines have been treading water the last seven years, both Ohio State and Michigan State have soared under Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio. The way Michigan looks at things, it’s all or nothing to hire the coach to replace Brady Hoke and to get the Wolverines seeing eyeball to eyeball with their two biggest rivals.

Harbaugh is the lottery ticket in this year’s coaching carousel. He’s won at the University of San Diego, coached Stanford from Pac-12 pushover to a BCS bowl in four years and has taken the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl and a 43-19 record in four years. The 49ers are going to fire him after they finish the season Sunday so he will be a free agent. He will have his pick of several NFL jobs to go with the big money offer from Michigan, his alma mater.

Most experts think Harbaugh hears mama calling, takes the money and goes home to coach Michigan where he’ll keep longtime family friend Greg Mattison as his defensive coordinator. It all makes sense.

But what happens if he doesn’t go home? What happens if he stays in the NFL?

Michigan has already been turned down by Les Miles, David Cutcliffe and Steve Addazio. Hugh Freeze has signed a long term extension to stay at Ole Miss and Dan Mullen is about to do the same thing at Mississippi State.

Who’s left?

Michigan desperately needs a Plan B and there isn’t a Plan B candidate out there capable of rattling the cages of both Ohio State and Michigan State.

WISCONSIN JOB APPLICANTS

Although it was apparent from the moment the job came open that Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez was going to hire Paul Chryst away from Pitt, it didn’t stop some very people from applying. Here are three of the more interesting job applicants as reported by Jasmine Watkins of Sporting News:

1. Jared Dann, job title "The Man, The Myth, The Legend," stated his qualifications as being “ridiculously good" at Xbox 360’s college football game.

2. Artuno Boomie said his years “coaching kindergarten and first-graders for the YMCA football program” made him the ideal candidate. He also said that he gives a great pep talk and his wife makes the Gatorade.

3. Greg Miller listed his coaching experience as Madden ’92, NCAA Football ’96 and ’97 and Bill Walsh ’93. He said, “I have further successfully coached from my sofa every Saturday since 1987.”

To his credit, Chryst got the job with actual experience as both an assistant and head coach.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

The Jameis Winston decision shouldn’t surprise anyone. Even though it’s a retired Florida Supreme Court chief justice who heard the case in front of the Student Disciplinary Committee at Florida State, did anyone really believe Winston would do anything other than skate? He’s either the luckiest person in the world or else there is something truly rotten in Tallahassee … Following the playoff, FSU plans to make Jimbo Fisher one of the four or five most highly paid coaches in the country. Figure he’s going to get a raise to something close to $5.5 million … The inaugural Boca Raton Bowl (6 p.m.) might prove to be as entertaining a bowl game as you’ll find with Marshall going against Northern Illinois. Will more than 25,000 people show up, though? … Memphis beat BYU in the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl, played at Marlins Park. It was the 10th win of the season for the Tigers, their first 10-win season since 1938, and it established head coach Justin Fuente as one of the first names you’ll hear next year whenever a job opens in the five power conferences … The halftime score of Kentucky-UCLA read like a football game: 41-7. Kentucky held UCLA to 3-37 shooting in one of the best defensive halves of basketball you will ever see. What’s frightening about this UK team is that John Calipari has 7-footers playing smothering defense on the perimeter … Butch Davis said he would be interested to return to coach the Miami Hurricanes. Even with all his baggage he would be quite the improvement from Al Golden. The only reason Golden still has a job is because Donna Shalayla is still the president of The U. She retires and goes her merry way in June of 2015.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Would you be comfortable with former Miami head coach Randy Shannon joining the Florida staff?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

Joe Cocker died today. He didn’t have the greatest voice in the world and if you ever watched him move you would swear he was the most rhythmically challenged human on the face of the earth, but somehow he got on stage and entertained and made us want to sing and dance along with him. His “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” album, recorded live at the Fillmore East in 1970, got mixed reviews. Some liked it and others, like Rolling Stone Magazine, trashed it completely. Then came the tour and the album that got those mixed reviews was suddenly a hot seller. Cocker and Leon Russell were absolutely electric and Rita Coolidge was spectacular. Today’s music is Cocker’s version “Feelin’Alright” written in 1968 by Dave Mason for Traffic. I loved Traffic but I saw Cocker do the song in person and it instantly became my favorite version.


Fightin Gators Top Stories