Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; Feb. 5

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

How good is Florida’s new secondary coach, Torrian Gray?

Consider this: The four members of the All-ACC secondary in 2011 were from Virginia Tech.

And consider this: Since 2008, Gray’s Virginia Tech secondaries gave up 116 touchdown passes in 107 games while picking off 124. Opponents averaged just 188.6 yards per game and a highly respectable 6.68 per pass attempt. In five of the last eight years opponents completed fewer than 50% of their passes against the Hokies.

This is a big time hire. Gray is a superb technical coach and he has a great eye for talent, a necessity since Virginia Tech is a very difficult place to recruit to. From 2008-2016, Gray’s highly regarded secondaries had exactly one 5-star and one 4-star.

Gray played high school ball at Lakeland Kathleen so this is a homecoming for him. He inherits a loaded secondary at UF and it’s likely he will take over recruiting in the fertile I-4 corridor between Orlando and St. Petersburg. He won’t have near the problems convincing big time recruits to come to Florida as he had to Virginia Tech.

Adding Gray to the staff gives Florida one of the most impressive defensive staffs in the country: DL Chris Rumph; LB Randy Shannon; LB/DC Geoff Collins; DB Torrian Gray.

GATOR WOMEN KNOCK OFF #12 TEXAS A&M

Score another impressive win for Amanda Butler’s 22nd-ranked Gator women, who came from eight points down to beat 12-ranked Texas A&M, 83-81, at the O-Dome Thursday night. This was the second straight win for the Gators over a team ranked #12 nationally. Kentucky, which was ranked #12 in last week’s poll, fell to the Gators Sunday.

Ronni Williams led the Gators (19-4, 7-3 SEC) with a 20-point, 15-rebound effort, backed up by Simone Westbrook with 15 points, Dyandria Anderson with 12 and Haley Lorenzon with 10.

The Gators got the usual total team effort. Ten of the 11 players who got into the game played at least 11 minutes and nine of the 11 scored at least two points.

That prompted Butler to say, “I could talk about every single kid on this box score because every one of them contributed to this win. Whether it was tonight, in practice, or through the energy they brought from the bench."

Next up for the Gators is a trip to Columbia to face #2 South Carolina next Thursday night.

SEC RECRUITING SINCE 2012

Is there a correlation between highly ranked recruiting classes and winning? In the case of Alabama, you would certainly say yes, since the Crimson Tide has averaged a #2 national ranking by Scout.com since 2012. Counting the 2016 class, Bama has brought in 24 5-star signees and another 70 4-stars, tops in both categories in the SEC. That’s correlated to a 62-7 record that includes two national championships and a final four berth in 2014.

But what does that say about Missouri? Mizzou hasn’t signed a single 5-star player and only 18 4-stars. Bama AVERAGES 14 4-stars per year. Yet, Missouri has won 41 games in the past five years. Mississippi State has also won 41 games with only 4 5-star recruits and 23 4-stars.

This is a look at the past five years of SEC recruiting and the won-lost records produced by each school. The schools are listed in order of their national recruiting rank by Scout.com.

ALABAMA

#1 2016: 3 5-star, 16 4-star; 6 3-star

# 2 2015: 5 5-star; 14 4-star; 4 3-star

#1 2014: 7 5-star; 13 4-star; 6 3-star

#4 2013: 6 5-star; 12 4-star; 7 3-star

#2 2012: 3 5-star; 15 4-star; 8 3-star

Average Scout.com national rank: 2

5-stars signed: 24

4-stars signed: 70

3-stars signed: 31

5-year won-lost record: 62-7

LSU:

#4 2016: 2 5-star, 15 4-star; 7 3-star

#12 2015: 2 5-star; 11 4-star; 9 3-star

#2 2014: 4 5-star; 13 4-star; 6 3-star

#9 2013: 1 5-star; 16 4-star; 8 3-star

#6 2012: 12 4-star; 10 3-star

Average Scout.com national rank: 5.6

5-stars signed: 12

4-stars signed: 65

3-stars signed: 40

5-year won-lost record: 50-15

AUBURN:

#12 2016: 1 5-star; 14 4-star; 6 3-star

#2 2015: 2 5-star; 16 4-star; 9 3-star

#8 2014: 4 5-star; 8 4-star; 12 3-star

#13 2013: 1 5-star; 8 4-star; 13 3-star

#8 2012: 2 5-star; 10 4-star; 9 3-star

Average Scout.com national rank: 8.6

5-stars signed: 10

4-stars signed: 56

3-stars signed: 49

5-year won-lost record: 38-27

GEORGIA:

#9 2016: 3 5-star; 12 4-star; 5 3-star

#4 2015: 2 5-star; 13 4 star; 14 3-star

#12 2014: 2 5-star; 10 4-star; 8 3-star

#8 2013: 15 4-star; 17 3-star

#14 2012: 4 5-star; 5 4-star; 10 3-star

Average Scout.com national rank: 9.4

5-stars signed: 11

4-stars signed: 45

3-stars signed: 54

5-year won-lost record: 50-17

FLORIDA:

#10 2016: 1 5-star; 12 4-star; 11 3-star

#29 2015: 2 5-star; 2 4-star; 16 3-star

#9 2014: 1 5-star; 9 4-star; 14 3-star

#7 2013: 1 5-star; 15 4-star; 13 3-star

#5 2012: 3 5-star; 9 4-star; 10 3-star

Average Scout.com national rank: 12

5-stars signed: 8

4-stars signed: 47

3-stars signed: 64

5-year won-lost record: 39-25

TEXAS A&M:

#21 2016: 1 5-star; 7 4-star; 12 3-star

#10 2015: 3 5-star; 11 4-star; 9 3-star

#7 2014: 3 5-star; 13 4-star; 5 3-star

#6 2013: 1 5-star; 15 4-star; 15 3-star

#21 2012: 1 5-star; 5 4-star; 13 3-star

Average Scout.com national rank: 13

5-stars signed: 9

4-stars signed: 51

3-stars signed: 54

5-year won-lost record: 43-22

TENNESSEE:

#17 2016: 2 5-star; 9 4-star; 10 3-star

#5 2015: 3 5-star; 12 4-star; 13 3-star

#4 2014: 17 4-star; 15 3-star

#36 2013: 4 4-star; 11 3-star

#22 2012: 1 5-star; 5 4-star; 15 3-star

Average Scout.com national rank: 16.8

5-stars signed: 6

4-stars signed: 47

3-stars signed: 64

5-year won-lost record: 31-31

OLE MISS

#5 2016: 2 5-star, 15 4-star; 5 3-star

#19 2015: 1 5-star; 10 4-star; 10 3-star

#18 2014: 9 4-star; 16 3-star

#10 2013: 4 5-star; 8 4-star; 14 3-star

#58 2012: 1 5-star; 12 3-star

Average Scout.com national rank: 20

5-stars signed: 8

4-stars signed: 49

3-stars signed: 57

5-year won-lost record: 36-28 

SOUTH CAROLINA

#26 2016: 6 4-star; 16 3-star

#20 2015: 1 5-star; 4 4-star; 20 3-star

#24 2014: 9 4-star; 9 3-star

#24 2013: 4 4-star; 17 3-star

#13 2012: 1 5-star; 5 4-star; 18 3-star

Average Scout.com national rank: 21.4

5-stars signed: 2

4-stars signed: 28

3-stars signed: 80

5-year won-lost record: 43-21

MISSISSIPPI STATE:

#35 2016: 1 5-star; 4 4-star; 13 3-star

#19 2015: 7 4-star; 21 3-star

#39 2014: 4 4-star; 15 3-star

#20 2013: 1 5-star; 5 4-star; 14 3-star

#18 2012: 2 5-star; 3 4-star; 19 3-star

Average Scout.com national rank: 26.2

5-stars signed: 4

4-stars signed: 23

3-stars signed: 62

5-year won-lost record: 41-24

ARKANSAS:

#32 2016: 5 4-star; 15 3-star

T-21 2015: 7 4-star; 17 3-star

#33 2014: 5 4-star; 15 3-star

#33 2013: 1 5-star; 3 4-star; 13 3-star

#19 2012: 4 4-star; 20 3-star

Average Scout.com national rank: 27.6

5-stars signed: 1

4-stars signed: 24

3-stars signed: 80

5-year won-lost record: 33-30

KENTUCKY:

#38 2016: 3 4-star; 16 3-star

#45 2015: 3 4-star; 14 3-star

#21 2014: 6 4-star; 19 3-star

#38 2013: 3 4-star; 14 3-star

T-31 2012: 22 3-star

Average Scout.com national rank: 34.6

5-stars signed: 0

4-stars signed: 15

3-stars signed: 85

5-year won-lost record: 19-41

MISSOURI:

#57 2016: 16 3-star

#26 2015: 7 4-star; 12 3-star

#32 2014: 4 4-star; 21 3-star

#35 2013: 4 4-star; 12 3-star

#34 2012: 1 5-star; 3 4-star; 13 3-star

Average Scout.com national rank: 36.8

5-stars signed: 1

4-stars signed: 18

3-stars signed: 74

5-year won-lost record: 41-24

VANDERBILT:

#68 2016: 1 4-star; 11 3-star

#74 2015: 1 4-star; 12 3-star

#50 2014: 2 4-star; 13 3-star

#19 2013: 4 4-star; 19 3-star

#45 2012: 1 4-star; 12 3-star

Average Scout.com national rank: 51.2

5-stars signed: 0

4-stars signed: 11

3-stars signed: 67

5-year won-lost record: 31-32                            

PRE-WEEKEND SEC BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS

1. Texas A&M (18-4, 7-2 SEC): The Aggies lost at Vanderbilt Thursday night but that’s not such a big deal. Everybody loses at Vanderbilt. Saturday’s game: South Carolina.

2. LSU (14-8, 7-2 SEC): If the Tigers remember to let Ben Simmons touch the ball almost every possession, they’re very hard to beat. Saturday’s game: Mississippi State.

3. Kentucky (16-6, 6-3 SEC): If the Wildcats figure out a way to lose to Florida at Rupp this weekend, then they are officially in a tailspin. It was shocking to see Tennessee’s 6-4 Armani Moore dominate Kentucky’s bigs Tuesday night. Saturday’s game: Florida.

4. FLORIDA (15-7, 6-3 SEC): The Gators have scored 80 or more points in five of their last six games. They are the team nobody in the SEC wants to play right now. Dorian Finney-Smith has to come up big for the Gators to beat Kentucky at Rupp. Saturday’s game: At Kentucky.

5. South Carolina (19-3, 6-3 SEC): The formula for beating the Gamecocks is rather simple. Sag and shut down the inside game and make them beat you from the 3-point line. If freshman center Chris Silva can’t deliver points, South Carolina is in trouble. Saturday’s game: At Texas A&M.

6. Vanderbilt (13-9, 5-4 SEC): All five of Vandy’s SEC wins have come at Memorial Gym. All four of their SEC losses have come on the road. Unless the ‘Dores can win some road games, the best they’ll do is the NIT. Saturday’s game: At Ole Miss.

7. Georgia (12-8, 5-4 SEC): When the Bulldogs stay out of foul trouble, they’re a tough out for anyone in the league. If center Yante Maten has to sit on the bench for any length of time because of fouls, the Bulldogs are in deepest and darkest. Saturday’s game: Auburn.

8. Tennessee (11-11, 4-5 SEC): When opponents cooperate and allow games to become a track meet, the Vols can play with anyone in the league. Just ask Kentucky, which ran out of gas trying to outrun the Vols Tuesday. Saturday’s game: At Arkansas.

9. Ole Miss (14-8, 4-5 SEC): The Rebels won at Missouri Wednesday without Sebastian Saiz. If he’s back Saturday, they’ve got a shot at knocking off Vanderbilt and getting back into the tournament picture. Saturday’s game: Vanderbilt.

10. Arkansas (11-11, 4-5 SEC): The Razorbacks can beat anyone at home and play anyone tough on the road. They win at home. They lose on the road. They’re home Saturday and it should be a track meet. Saturday’s game: Tennessee.

11. Alabama (12-9, 3-6 SEC): The Crimson Tide has a chance to extend its winning streak to two games Saturday. Hey, that’s progress. Saturday’s game: Missouri.

12. Auburn (9-12, 3-6 SEC): It’s a cold, cruel world for Cousin Brucie, whose Tigers have lost four straight. Saturday’s game: At Georgia.

13. Mississippi State (9-12, 2-7): Ben Howland never dreamed the SEC would be this tough. Getting to 12 wins will be an accomplishment. Saturday’s game: At LSU.

14. Missouri (8-14, 1-8 SEC): The Tigers have lost seven straight SEC games. They go for eight Saturday. This is a bad team. Saturday’s game: At Alabama.

SUPER BOWL THOUGHTS

I’ve managed to avoid most of the Super Bowl talk this week, largely because I’m just not that interested in the NFL anymore. Since probably 20 teams in the league run virtually the same offense and there isn’t that much difference in the defensive schemes, the pro game is rather boring to me. I would much rather watch college football where there is still some imagination in the offenses (See Oregon, Baylor, TCU for example) and the overtime rules make games far more exciting.

But, since the game is Sunday and I haven’t really addressed it, I guess it’s time to say something. My heart says Denver wins and Peyton Manning goes out on top. My head says there is no way Cam Newton, Luke Kuchely and the Carolina Panthers are going to lose this game.

Ticket prices are dropping, too. As of Friday night, you could buy a nosebleed ticket at Levi’s Stadium for a mere $2,600. For $2,600 I can buy two 60-inch ultra high def TVs and watch the game in the comfort of my home plus have the TVs to watch whatever sports are on TV between Sunday and next year’s Super Bowl.

Fearless Forecast: Denver 23, Carolina 21

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Two-part question: What is your prediction for Sunday’s Super Bowl and do you think you’ll watch the entire game start to finish?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

It’s Black History Month and time to honor some of the great musicians of all time. One of my all-time favorites is Florida-born Ray Charles, who spent eight years at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L067EZ5NQJU


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