Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; May 22

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

SportingIntelligence.com, which keeps track of salaries of professional athletes in seven sports in 13 countries, has come out with a couple of interesting new lists that track players from their college origin to their teams in the NFL and NBA. Surprisingly, the teams at the top on both the football and basketball lists aren’t named Alabama and Kentucky. Heading the football list is Ole Miss, whose 18 NFL players have an average salary of $4,050,353. Alabama, ranks #19 although the Crimson Tide have more players (36) than any other. In basketball, the salary leader is Texas, whose seven NBA players make an average of $8,150,678. Kentucky has 18 players in the league (same as Duke) but the average salary is $6,008,822, which ranks sixth (Duke ranks #18).

Florida is well represented on both charts. Florida has 31 NFL football players who make an average of $2,350,221 a year (#14 nationally). In the NBA, Florida’s 12 players average more money per year ($6,248,362) and rank #5 in average salary.

Highest average salary for NFL players 2014-15 from the SEC

(Only 35 teams listed)

1. Ole Miss: 18 players, average salary $4,050,353
8. Tennessee: 28 players, average salary $3,037,917
9. Georgia: 34 players, average salary $2,679,236
13. Texas A&M: 19 players, average salary $2,387,582
14. Florida: 31 players, average salary $2,350,221
15. Auburn: 25 players, average salary $2,333,525
19. Alabama: 36 players, $2,207, 958
21. Missouri: 17 players, average salary $2,147,249
23. South Carolina: 24 players, average salary $2,017,732
26. LSU: 31 players, average salary $1,917,322
33. Arkansas: $15 players, average salary $1,423,534

Also in the top 35:
6. Miami: 31 players, average salary $3,154,322
27. Florida State: 33 players, average salary $1,733,187

Top 10 highest earners in the NBA 2014-15 by college background

1. Texas: 7 players, average salary $8,150,678
2. Georgia Tech: 7 players, average salary $7,991,247
3. Wake Forest: 6 players, average salary $7,128,578
4. Spain (country): 6 players, average salary $6,318,445
5. Florida: 12 players, average salary $6,248,362
6. Kentucky: 18 players, average salary $6,008,822
7. Georgetown: 6 players, average salary $5,963,513
8. Southern Cal: 6 players, average salary $5,777,027
9. Memphis: 6 players, average salary $5,689,154
10. Brazil (country): 7 players, average salary $5,530,582

Others of note:
11. UCLA: 15 players, average salary $5,419,289
17. North Carolina, 16 players, average salary $3,414,074
18. Duke: 18 players, average salary $3,337,302
19. LSU: 6 players, average salary $3,183,425
21. Kansas: 17 players, average salary $2,721,158

RECORD SETTER

In her last game as a high school softball player for Glendale (AZ) Deer Valley, Lauren Haeger struck out 15 batters and hit the game-winning home run in the seventh inning. Four years later, history has a chance to repeat itself for Haeger, only this time on softball’s biggest stage. A finalist for the national player of the year, Haeger has the Gators two wins away from a third trip to the Women’s College World Series in her four years at the University of Florida and a second straight national championship. In leading the Gators to a 53-6 record heading into Saturday’s NCAA Super Regional against Kentucky at Katie Seashole Pressley Stadium, Haeger has hit 15 homers, driven in 63 while hitting a steady .335. In the pitcher’s circle, she’s 26-1 with a 1.34 ERA and nine shutouts. Last week in the two clinching wins in the Gainesville Regional, Haeger pitched a two-hit shutout and followed that with a three-hit whitewash.

In her four years at Florida, Haeger has hit 67 homers (UF and SEC record), driven in 252 (UF record) while going 67-12 with a 1.79 ERA. She is the only player in NCAA history to record more than 60 homers and 60 wins.

And wouldn’t it be ironic if she comes to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning of the championship game of the WCWS with a chance to repeat the history she set in high school four years ago?

John Calipari SAID IT

"The winning, the losing, is not personal to me." – University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, speaking earlier in the week to a group of businessmen.

Dean Smith is rolling over in his grave.

Back in 1974 when he was less than halfway to the 879 wins he posted in a brilliant college basketball coaching career at the University of North Carolina, Dean Smith told me that what he remembered about the wins was how well his teams played and what each player contributed to make the wins possible. He also told me that he could remember every detail about every game the Tar Heels ever lost when he was the coach and what stuck out to him in each loss were the things he could have done as a coach to give his team a better chance to win.

Dean Smith wasn’t obsessed with winning but he understood that the habits you develop individually and as a team that fit together for a winning effort are the same habits that will be the foundation for success long after the basketball comes to an end. When it came to losing, he never pointed a finger at his players when they lost but instead shouldered the blame. Yes, it was the North Carolina Tar Heels that lost (rarely) but it was important for the head coach to set the example by dissecting what went wrong and taking responsibility. He believed that when a team won it was because everyone from the managers and support staff to the players and coaches worked together in harmony to achieve a goal and when a team lost it was important for each individual to take an introspective look and figure out what he could have done better.

I have always felt that Dean’s approach to winning and losing was the right way to go about the game of basketball and as I grow older, I understand that his approach to basketball was a guideline for success in life. Maybe this explains why Dean had an astronomical graduation rate and why something like 75% of his players went on to great success once they discovered life after basketball.

And then there is John Calipari. In addition to his comment about winning and losing, Calipari admitted that the goal at Kentucky last season wasn’t to win all the games and take home a national championship. Rather it was about getting his players drafted.

"How do we do this? It all starts with players first," Calipari told the businessmen. "Their dreams become our dreams. Last year we started the season with a goal. You may think that goal was to win the national title! Win al the games! It was to get eight players drafted. 'Well, how can you be about your team if you're worried about players getting drafted?' Well, we kind of work it the other way. What are you dreams? What are you looking for? What are you trying to get out of life? How can we help you with that?"

It’s admirable to help your players make a bunch of money, but the Kentucky approach has a rather arrogant, callous feel to it. Next month a slew of Kentucky players will get drafted, quite a few in the first round which means they will be instant millionaires and should earn enough in their careers to be set for life. Yet, how many of this year’s Kentucky draftees and the 26 other former Kentucky players who have been taken in the draft during the Calipari era will retire from the NBA with no fears about the future? How many will follow the example of Kenny Anderson (earned $63 million in 14 years, dead broke shortly after his career ended; $40,000 in monthly child support for seven children he fathered with five different women) or Antoine Walker (Made $110 million in his career yet was dead broke at the end because he spent years paying an entourage of 70)?

When the head coach is more concerned with how much money his kids are going to make playing in the NBA and not as concerned with the character developed from lessons learned while winning and losing, something is amok.

DAN JENKINS ON TIGER WOODS

Perhaps you could make an argument for someone other than Dan Jenkins as the greatest living sports writer in the world, but when it comes to writing about golf, Dan Jenkins is the best there ever was, the best that is and the best there will ever be. When he voices his opinion about Eldrick Woods, people stop and listen. Here are a couple of excerpts about Woods and the state of golf on the PGA Tour from an interview he did with Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

MAC ENGEL: Is Jordan Spieth the next big thing on the Tour or are we kdding ourselves that, because of the depth of talent at the top, anybody will ever replicate Tiger’s run a decade ago?

DAN JENKINS: Jordan Spieth is the real deal. As I tweeted from Augusta, he appears to be the perfect Texas pro. He has the will and the focus of Ben Hogan, the likablility of Byron Nelson and the putting stroke of Ben Crenshaw. I’m delighted that we now have a youthful Top Three – Rory McIlroy, Jordan and Rickie Fowler. Rickie doesn’t have the physique or the size and strength of Rory and Jordan, but he’s a fierce competitor, a fighter who has to get everything out of himself, somewhat on the order of a Gary Player. Incidentally, there’s much more talent at the top (and bottom) than there was during Tiger’s peak years. Tiger beat a lot of nobodies to win most of his majors.

MAC ENGEL: Did we take Tiger Woods’ dominance for granted, and will he catch Jack Nicklaus’ record for majors?

DAN JENKINS: I never took Tiger’s dominance for granted. The media loved him because he was golf’s only rock star, only dynasty, and people like dynasties in any sport. People also like to see dynasties crash and burn. Every golf hits a wall eventually. Tiger has hit his, in more ways than one. He’s lost his game and putting stroke and his head. It happens. And I’ve only seen one player lose it all and come back. That was [Ben] Hogan, who damn near died in eh car wreck. He came back and won six more majors. Tiger seems more confused about it than anyone I’ve ever covered. Maybe that’s because it came so easy for him in the beginning.

All this is a roundabout way of saying no, he won’t break Jack’s record, and he’ll be lucky to win another major. He’s a few months away from turning 40, which means he will have only five good years left to do it. In all of history, only four players have won a major beyond the age of 40. One more thing to consider: Tiger gets older every year, and the current best players are much younger and are no longer intimidated by him.

MAC ENGEL: Is the overall state of the PGA Tour really that much different from 25 years ago, or does this era have a decidedly different feel?

DAN JENKINS: The tour is much different now. Greed rules. The prize money is obscene. A player no longer has to win to get rich. The tournaments have corporate names, the Tour staff takes charge of the tournament courses and eases them up to create lower scores, the exempt status has taken the fear out of the game – they can shoot at the pins the first two rounds instead of struggling to make the cut and play next week. It’s power golf now because of the technology – drive it 300 yards, hit a wedge, go to the next tee. I don’t know if all this makes it better or worse. But, thank God, we still have the four majors to get my heart started.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

This is a two-part question: (1) Do you think Tiger Woods will ever win another major and (2) do you even care?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

Van Morrison is one of my go-to guys. Whenever I’m having a stressed day, inevitably, I’ll listen to one of his albums. One of my favorite Van Morrison albums is his 1991 release “Hymns to the Silence,” a double album journey through Morrison’s very complicated musical taste. It’s folksy, bluesy, has a nice touch of Irish from The Chieftans and there are even a couple of traditional Christian hymns in there (“Just a Closer Walk with Thee” and “Be Thou My Vision”). The album hit #5 on the British charts but only made it to #99 in the US. I always though it was highly underrated.

Hymns to the Silence

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