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Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; March 9

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

Tim Tebow went 0-3 in his spring training debut with the New York Mets, striking out twice and grounding into a double play. He did get hit by a pitch but committed a baserunning blunder. His bat touched the ball only three times in 14 pitches.

Now it must be noted that in batting practice, Tebow looked the part of a power hitter but once the game began he couldn’t handle pitches in the low 90s or the offspeed stuff. Translation for all this: 12 years away from baseball have taken a toll and while Tebow is unquestionably a talented and determined athlete, he is way behind the curve of other 29-year-olds who have been playing the game as pros 8-12 years.

The odds that Tebow can someday play Major League Baseball are not great because he hasn’t played the game in such a long time, but Mets captain David Wright concedes “if there’s anyone who can do it” Tebow might be the one. Don’t expect Tim to make the Mets roster past spring training but he should get a chance to start at the bottom in A ball for a chance to earn his way up the ladder. It’s a long and difficult climb that gets the best of most players, but nobody will try harder than Tim Tebow. Trying hard, however, and success don’t always partner up.

WHITE DESERVED COACH OF THE YEAR

I still find it beyond belief that Billy Donovan was selected SEC Coach of the Year only three times (2011, 2013 and 2014), all three times near the end of his 19-year run at the University of Florida. Donovan certainly should have been the SEC Coach of the Year in 2000 when he led the Gators to the national championship game in only his fourth year on the job and it is incomprehensible that he wasn’t honored in either 2006 or 2007 when the Gators won back-to-back national championships.

Because of what happened with Donovan, I’m extremely happy that Mike White was honored as SEC Coach of the Year in just his second season at UF. White hasn’t had to perform miracles at UF, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t done a fine job in what can only be described as a very difficult situation. It’s never easy to follow a legend and Donovan was a legend. Donovan recruited a team to play his style of basketball and while the styles are similar, White has his way of doing things and some of his methods are diametrically different than the way Donovan did things. Somehow, in just his second year, he’s got a team that is completely bought in and the result is a 24-7 record achieved with mad dog intense defense and unselfishness. These guys really don’t care who scores the most points as long as the Gators win.  

This is one year when the votes went the right way. There is no question Mike White deserved to be selected Coach of the Year.

Kudos also to KeVaughn Allen for making first team All-SEC, Canyon Barry for being selected Sixth Man of the Year and to Kasey Hill for making the All-Defensive team.

GATORS DROP SECOND STRAIGHT TO FGCU

No matter what happens this weekend when Seton Hall comes to Gainesville for a 3-game set, the Gators are going to drop from their #2 ranking in the USA Today collegiate baseball poll after dropping a second straight game to Florida Gulf Coast, 3-2, Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium. The Gators are now 10-4 overall, 0-3 on the road and 10-1 at home.

The Gators managed 5 hits Wednesday night and only 8 the night before. Until UF starts hitting the baseball, it’s going to be tough sledding. It’s way too early to panic about the midweek pitching but early results seem to indicate Kevin O’Sullivan needs to give more innings to freshmen Garrett Milchin and Cole Maye.

SEC BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT RESULTS/SCHEDULE

Wednesday’s first round games

Mississippi State (16-15) 79, LSU (10-21) 52; Missouri (8-23) 86, Auburn (18-14) 83, overtime

Thursday’s second round games

1 p.m. Tennessee (16-15) vs. Georgia 18-13
3 p.m. Mississippi State (16-15) vs. Alabama (17-13)
7 p.m. Texas A&M (16-14) vs. Vanderbilt (17-14)

9 p.m. Auburn (19-13) vs. Ole Miss (19-12)

SEC BASKETBALL COACHING CAROUSEL

Out: Kim Anderson, Missouri; Johnny Jones, LSU

Who replaces Anderson?: Right now there is reason to believe that Mizzou will make a serious run at Washington coach Lorenzo Romar. If Mizzou hires Romar, he in all probability brings Michael Porter Sr. along as his top assistant. Porter used to be an assistant women’s coach at Mizzou, but more importantly in this day and age, he is the dad of Michael Porter Jr., a 6-10 stud who has already drawn comparisons to Kevin Garnett and Kevin Durant. Porter Jr. has signed with Washington, but would follow dad and Romar to Mizzou. Porter Sr. is also the dad of Jontay Porter, a brute of a high school center (6-10, 245) who is just a junior. Of course, the idea that Romar could keep the Porter boys in Seattle could be reason enough for UDub to extend his contract. Backup plan: Cuonzo Martin (California), who is a native of East St. Louis.

Who replaces Jones?: The smart move would be to hire Eric Musselman, a former LSU assistant who is 25-6 this year at Nevada. Musselman is a former NBA head coach and an experienced Olympic level coach with national teams such as China, Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Another smart move would be to hire Kevin Keatts, 29-5 this year at UNC-Wilmington and 72-27 in three years. He’s a former Rick Pitino assistant and a brilliant recruiter. While those two would make tremendous sense, remember the AD at LSU is Crazy Joe Alleva, who was once the AD at Duke. Because of the Duke ties, watch him make a run at UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins, Duke assistant and former head coach at Oklahoma Jeff Capel, or either Steve Wojciechowski (52-43 in three years at Marquette) or Chris Collins (70-58 in his fourth season at Northwestern). Prediction: Either Capel or Dawkins.

Teetering on the verge: Billy Kennedy, Texas A&M.

If the Aggies lose to Vandy tomorrow night in the SEC Tournament, it’s possible a change will be made. Kennedy has made the NCAA Tournament only once in six seasons and most of the good players on his roster were recruited by Rick Stansbury, who left to take the head job at Western Kentucky. Kennedy is a fine bench coach but he needs a great recruiter and he doesn’t have one now. If the Aggies knock off Vandy and get to the SEC quarterfinals against Florida, it might be just the nudge Kennedy needs for one more year, but this is going to be a close call. Prediction: The Aggies are going to fire Kennedy, make a bold move to lure Gregg Marshall from Wichita State and if that fails, hire either Texas native and Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams or Keatts.

Should be okay: There was an unsubstantiated rumor that Georgia was considering giving the axe to Mark Fox, but AD Greg Magarity stepped in immediately to refute the rumor and claim that “We look forward to Mark leading our program next year.” Was that the a kiss of death vote of confidence by Magarity or is the AD letting Fox’s strong recruiting class know that he’s standing by his coach? Fox runs a clean program and won’t cut deals with the slimy AAU programs that are the norm for metro Atlanta. He’s built the program from the ground up and has three 20-win seasons in his six years, which is one less than the school’s winningest coach of all time (Hugh Durham … who wasn’t as ethical as Fox) managed in 17 years. Georgia has 18 wins and probably makes the NIT field with a win tonight over Tennessee in the SEC Tournament. Win 2-3 games in the tournament and the Bulldogs could make the NCAA field. Figure Fox will be back but we have to remember, this is the same school that fired Mark Richt after averaging nearly 10 wins a season for 15 years.

BOEHEIM RUNS OFF AT THE MOUTH

Driving back from Tampa and listening to the ACC Tournament being played in Brooklyn, I’m asking myself why the heck are they playing this tournament anywhere but Greensboro or Charlotte. Then I get home and read Jim Boeheim’s comment, “There’s no reason to play in Greensboro … It should not be there.” Boeheim went on to say the tournament should be played in New York, Washington, DC and Atlanta and asked, “How many good players are in Greensboro? New York made the Big East.” This was after Syracuse lost its opening game in the tournament, 62-57, to Miami.

This prompted the City of Greensboro to tweet, “We kindly disagree. But I guess you can lose in the 1st round anywhere. At least it’s a quick ride home.”

Maybe New York made the Big East, but the ACC was, is and always will be about Tobacco Road. Sure, former Big East schools like Louisville, Syracuse and Notre Dame might win a national title someday as members of the ACC, but long before there was a Big East there was an ACC. Long before there was a Big East Tournament, there was an ACC Tournament. The legends that turned the ACC into the best basketball league in the country were made in Charlotte and Greensboro and that’s where you will find the heart and soul of ACC basketball. Tradition should stand for something and in the ACC that should mean the tournament is played either in Charlotte or Greensboro.

ESPN RANKS UF 15th TOUGHEST FOOTBALL SCHEDULE FOR 2017

The top 20 and 2017 opponents’ record last year (SEC teams bold face): 1. UMass (101-54); 2. LSU (98-59); 3. East Carolina (98-59); 4. South Carolina (98-61); 5. Tulane (94-59); 6. Syracuse (95-60); 7. Fresno State (96-61); 8. Georgia Tech (95-61); 9. (Tie) Duke (94-61) and Vanderbilt (94-61); 11. Tulsa (93-62); 12. Notre Dame (94-63); 13. Mississippi State (92-62); 14. Illinois (92-63); 15. FLORIDA (82-57); 16. (Tie) Michigan State (91-64) and UCLA (91-64); 18. Clemson (90-64); 19. (Tie) Auburn (89-64) and Texas Tech (89-64)

The rest of the SEC: 26. Texas A&M (87-66); 28. (Tie) Ole Miss (88-67); 36. (Tie) Georgia (85-68); 44. (Tie) Tennessee (84-69); 49. Arkansas (82-69); 54. Alabama (81-70); 74. (Tie) Kentucky (79-72) and Missouri (79-72)

Other notables: 28. (Tie) Florida State (88-67); 42. Michigan (85-69); 57. Miami (80-70); 64. Ohio State (81-72); 71. (Tie) Florida Atlantic (80-73); 81. (Tie) UCF (78-73); 86. (Tie) Oklahoma (76-74); 115. Florida International (69-81); 124. South Florida (63-85)

RANDOM THOUGHTS

The Dallas Cowboys are expected to release quarterback Tony Romo today. Even though Romo has a terrible history with injuries, someone will take a chance that they can keep him healthy for an entire season.  

Remember when everything the San Francisco 49ers touched turned to gold? They signed journeyman QB Brian Hoyer to a free agent deal Wednesday. Hoyer isn’t what you would call scraping the bottom of the barrel, but he’s not ever going to get you more than a few wins in a season.

Georgetown lost to St. John’s 74-73 in the first round of the Big East Tournament to finish the season at 14-18, the second straight losing season for the Hoyas. Georgetown is 69-62 in the last four years and recruiting has dipped to new lows. Will Georgetown give Thompson another year? Maybe a better question is if his dad were not Big John Thompson would it take more than 10 seconds to make the decision to can him?

Reuben Foster, Alabama’s All-American linebacker who was sent home from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis is called “a great teammate a great guy” by teammate O.J. Howard. Bama HBC Nick Saban says, “If you’re looking for a good teammate to be on your team, Reuben is going to be very, very good. If you’re looking or somebody to be a candy-striper and be nice to everybody in the hospital, maybe not.”

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Do you think Tim Tebow will do enough this spring to merit a chance to start his professional career or do you think the Mets will cut him and end the dream?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

Today’s music is for good friend and great Gator Doug Wedgworth, who’s battling a serious form of cancer. He’s the guy who introduced me to one of his favorite bands, Mingo Fishtrap. Today’s music is a live performance from last July in Asheville, North Carolina. Keep fighting Dougie and get well!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0h3vCVjfaw


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