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Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; May 25

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

UCLA just signed the biggest shoe/apparel deal in history with Under Armour worth $280 million over a 15-year period. The deal includes $15 million in up front cash, $2 million a year for the next eight years for facility upgrades, $11 million a year in rights and marketing fees, and $7.4 million a year in clothing, shoes, apparel and equipment. The deal represents just one more coup for the Maryland-based company that in the last three years has added Notre Dame ($90 million in cash over 10 years plus a huge chunk of Under Armour stock, which had a 2:1 stock split a few weeks ago), Wisconsin (10 years, $96 million) and California (10 years, $86 million). Auburn’s deal with Under Armour expires on May 31, but it will be extended and probably more than doubled (currently pays out $4.35 million per year) and South Carolina’s deal with Under Armour ($3.4 million per year) expires on June 30. It also expects to at least double.

Nike has felt the heat and has handed out contracts of $252 million to Ohio State, $250 million to Texas and $169 million to Michigan but its recent deals in the SEC can’t compare. Alabama’s deal with Nike expires in two years and it is expected the folks in Tuscaloosa will get money in the Ohio State and Texas range but the rest of the SEC schools with Nike contracts have rather modest amount of shoe money.

Although adidas has lost some of its big contracts, it has extended its deals with Texas A&M and Louisville and lured Miami away from Nike with a lucrative deal that runs through 2028.

Here are the SEC schools with their deals and expiration dates:

1. Texas A&M (adidas): $6.85 million per year (expires 6/30/22)
2. Tennessee (Nike): $4.6 million per year (expires 6/30/23)
3. Auburn (Under Armour): $4.35 million per year (expires 5/31/16)

4. LSU (Nike): $4.2 million per year (expires 6/30/22)

5. Ole Miss (Nike): $4 million per year (expires 2027)

6. Georgia (Nike): $3.8 million per year (expires 6/30/24)
7. Alabama (Nike): $3.67 million per year (expires 6/30/18)
8. Kentucky (Nike): $3.525 million per year (expires 8/31/25)
9. South Carolina (Under Armour): $3.4 million per year (expires 6/30/16)
10. Florida (Nike): $3.355 million per year (expires 6/30/24)
11. Mississippi State (adidas): $3 million per year (expires 2020)

Missouri (Nike) $2.25 million per year (expires 7/31/19)
12. Ole Miss (Nike): $2.05 million per year (expires (6/30/19)
 Note: Arkansas signed a new deal with Nike but terms have not been announced. Vanderbilt signed an 8-year extension with Nike in 2015 but no other terms were released.

Other deals of note:

Florida State (Nike): $4.2 million per year (expires 7/31/23)

Louisville (adidas): $6.775 million per year (expires 6/30/18)

Miami (adidas): estimated at $6.775 million per year (expires 6/30/28)

GATORS OPEN PLAY IN SEC BASEBALL TOURNAMENT

The Gators (44-11) are expected to send lefty A.J. Puk (2-2, 2.93 ERA) to the mound today when they face LSU (40-17) at 9 p.m. in the quarterfinal round of the SEC Baseball Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. LSU avoided the upset Tuesday night by rallying back from a 4-0 deficit to knock off Tennessee (29-28), 5-4 in the first round of the SEC Baseball Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. The Tigers scored 3 runs in the bottom of the eighth, then added two in the bottom of the ninth, one on a homer by Greg Deichmann and the other on a one-out, bases loaded single by Kramer Robertson.

Puk is well rested after pitching only two innings last weekend in Baton Rouge (stomach virus caused him to leave the game Friday night). He’s expected to square off with Alex Lange (7-3, 3.63 ERA) who was on the mound against the Gators last Thursday night when the rains washed out game one of the weekend series.

Florida will be a top eight national seed no matter what happens in Hoover, but if UF can win it or at least make the championship game, it could mean a #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Tuesday in the SEC Tournament: Vanderbilt (42-15) beat Missouri (26-30), 7-0, behind the pitching of freshman righthander Patrick Raby and a 2-run homer from freshman pinch-hitter Julian Infante. Vanderbilt will face #3 seed Texas A&M (41-13)  at 9: 30 a.m. today …  Alabama (32-24) knocked off Kentucky (32-25), 5-2, behind the pitching of Nick Eicholz and a home run and 2 RBI from catcher Will Haynie. Alabama advances to face #1-seed Mississippi State (40-14-1) at 5:30 today … Ole Miss (41-16) advanced to face #2 seed South Carolina (42-13) today with a 5-1 win over Georgia (27-30). J.B. Woodman hit a double and a triple to drive in 3 runs to lead the Rebels, who play the Gamecocks at 2 p.m. … In Tennessee’s win over LSU, Will Neely

THUNDER GO UP 3-1 ON GOLDEN STATE

Back in 1972 when the Miami Dolphins were on their way to their first Super Bowl (they lost the first one), George Wilson, who was the Dolphins’ coach prior to the arrival of Don Shula, told a Miami radio station, “Any Joe Doakes could coach that team.” The following Sunday, after the Dolphins had won another game, the late Hubert Mizelle shouted out to Shula as he left the post-game press  conference, “Say hi to Mrs. Doakes and all the little Doaksies.”

I bring that story up because I’m sure there are folks who are going to say words to the equivalent of “any Joe Doakes could coach an Oklahoma City Thunder team with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.” Certainly, it helps to have a couple of superstars to build a team around but there are lots of teams with studs who are watching on television while OKC has knocked off the San Antonio Spurs and is a game away from ending the Golden State Warriors’ season. Coaching does matter in the NBA and Donovan is proving that while he might be a first year coach in the league, he doesn’t have to take a back seat to anyone. He totally schooled Greg Popovich, widely regarded as the best coach in the league, and he’s dissected everything Steve Kerr and the Warriors have thrown at him.

Tuesday night’s 118-94 win over Golden State wasn’t a fluke nor was the previous blowout win. When Donovan gets his troops on the same page defensively and sharing the basketball offensively, they are the best team in the NBA.

I’ve always contended that Donovan was never given proper credit for what he did at Florida. From the moment John Calipari came into the SEC, folks raved about what a great coach he was. Cal’s a good coach, no doubt about it, but give Billy Donovan an NBA caliber roster like the one Kentucky has played with every year since 2010 and I daresay there’s more than one national championship trophy on the mantle. What Billy did at Florida should be appreciated as one of the greatest coaching jobs in modern NCAA history. Florida had little in the way of tradition pre-Billy, never had the best in facilities or fan support, and didn’t have that natural national recruiting base like you have at places like Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and North Carolina. Yet, Donovan left UF as the second winningest coach in SEC history, second only to Adolph Rupp.

And here he has Oklahoma City a game away from the NBA Finals. Cal never did that. Bill Self, Coach K and Roy Williams never tried.

BEST I’VE SEEN: NFL

Although I marvel at the speed and athleticism so prominent in today’s NFL game, I still marvel at the guys I grew up watching. Jim Brown was the best player I ever saw and nothing will convince me he couldn’t have done it in any era. He was that good. I saw him on TV many, many times, but when I got to see him in person and really understood what an incredible combination of size, speed and change of direction he was, I became convinced Jim Brown was from another planet. I think the guys who played against him think that way, too.

Today’s list of the best I’ve ever seen in person or on television is from the NFL.

1. Jim Brown

2. Johnny Unitas
3. Gayle Sayers
4. John Hannah
5. Lawrence Taylor
6. Emmitt Smith
7. Jerry Rice
8. Derrick Thomas
9. Reggie White
10. Dick Butkus

Special Mention: It’s hard to make a list of 10 best that doesn’t include Tom Brady, John Elway, Lance Alworth, Ronnie Lott, Joe Montana or Fred Biletnikoff … I was at a Washington Redskins training camp in the early 1970s when Sonny Jurgenson was asked about his protruding belly. Jurgenson responded, “I don’t throw with my belly.” Joe Namath’s quick release was always talked about but the quickest release I’ve ever seen was Sonny J … My first encounter with Lawrence Taylor was at the Virginia High School All-Star Game in 1977. Al Rinaldi, the legendary coach at Highland Springs, introduced me by saying, “This is Lawrence Taylor. Someday you might call him the greatest player you ever saw and you’ll remember that you met him here” … There are great offensive lineman and then there is John “Hog” Hannah, the standard by which every O-lineman college or pro should be measured … Before the knee injuries, Gale Sayers did things no one had ever done before or since. I remember the game in which he scored 6 TDs against the 49ers … Jim Brown walked away from the game when he was only 29. He was still in his prime. I thought he was crazy to do it back then, but when I talk to older players who stayed in the game too long, I think Brown had the right idea ... While I admire the Miami Dolphins for putting together the only undefeated season in NFL history, the best team I ever saw was the Green Bay Packers when Vince Lombardi coached them.   

IS BAYLOR ABOUT TO MAKE A PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE?

A report that Baylor has fired president Kenneth Starr has been circulating for the past 24 hours, but it hasn’t been confirmed. Baylor has announced that it continues to review the results of an investigation into how Starr and head football coach Art Briles responded to a rash of sexual misconduct and violence allegations. A response has been promised no later than June 3.

So far there is no Title IX lawsuit against Baylor nor has the NCAA announced an investigation but those things might be formalities. Baylor might be on the verge of a pre-emptive strike by jettisoning both Starr and Briles ahead of any investigations. No matter what Baylor does, people are going to wonder just how much both Starr and Briles knew about the sexual violence and why they failed to take appropriate measures to bring it under control.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

The Pac-12 Conference has proposed a ban on spring break practices like the one Jim Harbaugh and Michigan held at IMG Academy in Bradenton. The Pac-12 has also announced it will limit night football games to four per weekend as a consideration for fans who have to travel long distances.

UCLA QB Josh Rosen isn’t so impressed with the new deal with Under Armour. Rosen tweeted out, “We’re still amateurs though … Gotta love those non-profits #NCAA”

CBSSports.com lists the 16 more irreplaceable players in NCAA football as (1) Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford; (2) Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma; (3) Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson; (4) Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU; (5) J.T. Barnett, QB, Ohio State; (6) Gary Ward Jr., QB, Houston; (7) Desmond King, CB, Iowa; (8) Adoree’ Jackson, CB, Southern Cal; (9) Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State; (10) Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama; (11) Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan; (12) William Likely, CB, Maryland; (13) Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas; (14) Dakota Prukop, QB, Oregon; (15) Nathan Peterman, QB, Pitt; (16) De’Veon Smith, RB, Michigan.

Josh Hart, who hit the game winning shot in the national championship game for Villanova, has withdrawn his name from the NBA Draft. Also returning to school rather than stay in the draft is Nigel Hayes of Wisconsin. Smart move by both players.

Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn’s family is suing the tobacco industry. Gwynn, who died of salivary gland cancer, was addicted to smokeless tobacco.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Who are the best NFL players you’ve ever seen in person or on television?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

I had a request for some Carolina beach music so today’s music is The Band of Oz. This is for you Doug Wedgworth. If I could have found a full concert of The Embers I would have posted that but The Band of Oz was, is and will always be great music for shagging the night away.

https://youtu.be/caNdmRXdmik


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