Franz Beard: Thoughts of the Day

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY; SEPTEMBER 12, 2018

A few thoughts to kick start your Wednesday evening:

1. Forbes Magazine just released its 25 most valuable college football programs. If you are a fan of the Florida Gators you should be distressed by the findings. Florida ranks tenth nationally in total revenue ($111 million) with profit of $67 million. The Gators are FIFTH in the Southeastern Conference behind Texas A&M (#1 nationally; #1 SEC: $148 million; $107 million profit); Alabama (#4 nationally; #2 SEC: $127 million; $59 million in profit); Auburn (#8 nationally; #3 SEC: $112 million; $61 million profit); LSU (#9 nationally; #4 SEC: $112 million; $56 million profit) and then Florida (#10 nationally; #5 SEC). Other SEC teams that cracked the top 25 were Tennessee (#11 nationally; #6 SEC: $108 million; $60 million profit); Arkansas (#13 nationally; #7 SEC: $92 million; $54 million profit); South Carolina (#15 nationally; #8 SEC: $90 million; $50 million profit); Georgia (#16 nationally; #9 SEC: $89 million; $55 million SEC); and Ole Miss (#21 nationally; #10 SEC: $80 million; $42 million profit).

2. The reason you should be distressed that Florida has the fifth highest football revenue in the SEC is because it’s indicative of how the program has slipped. Florida hasn’t won an SEC or national championship in ten years and you could argue that the last time the Gators were truly relevant was 2009 when it could be argued they were the second best team in the country behind national and SEC champ Alabama. There are plenty of blaming fingers to point in any number of directions but the place to start is at the top. When Urban Meyer resigned at the end of the 2010 season, Florida was only two years removed from a run in which the Gators won two national and SEC titles and posted three 13-1 seasons in four years. It is incomprehensible why Will Muschamp was hired to take over after Urban Meyer. I have no doubt that Will is going to be an outstanding college football coach for years to come, but he was in no way ready to take over as the head coach of a high profile Southeastern Conference program. There is so much more than on-the-field coaching to being a head coach in the SEC. Will got his training at Florida, which is why he will do quite well in the future. Next came Jim McElwain. Don’t get me started on Old Yeller. But, in a nutshell, the reason Florida football has slipped so far in football revenues has everything to do with the last seven years.

3. I will once again state my reasons why Dan Mullen is the right coach at the right time and why he will get Florida football back to a championship level on the field and in the revenue department as well. Dan Mullen spent those nine years at Mississippi State learning how to be a head coach. Oh, he already knew how to coach a football team, but he had to become a speechmaker, a fundraiser, the coach who listened to parents who couldn’t believe Junior wasn’t yet an All-American and a potential first round draft pick, the closer when it came to recruiting and the statewide face of a program. When he arrived in Gainesville he had already done his on-the-job training and proved that he could win on the field as well as handle all the nuances of being the CEO of a multi-million dollar business. Yes, football is a sport, but what these revenue figures unmistakably tell us is that it’s big business.

4. Another reason to be distressed or depressed, whichever comes first. Forbes has also released the top 20 shoe/apparel deals. I’m not sure if the Gators got a better deal from Nike when they were selected to wear Jordan Brand Jumpman shoes and apparel, but UF is not in the top 20 at least through the end of the 2017-18 school year. That’s right. Not even in the top 20 and #20 is Cincinnati. If the University of Cincinnati has a better shoe/apparel deal than the Florida Gators, it’s beyond appalling and makes you wonder what the hell our former athletic director was thinking when he signed the Nike contract extension three or four years ago without even taking bids from Under Armour, which gave UCLA the biggest deal in shoe/apparel history, or Adidas, which has been throwing out cash faster than a politician trying to get re-elected.

Here are the top 20 programs with their affiliation: (1) UCLA, Under Armour: $12.76 million annually; (2) Louisville, Adidas: $10.96 million annually; (3) Texas, Nike: $9.76 million annually; (4) Michigan, Nike/Jordan: $7.79 million annually; (5) Notre Dame, Under Armour: $7.5 million annually; (6) Washington, Adidas: $7.89 million annually; (7) Ohio State, Nike: $6.85 million annually; (8) Wisconsin, Under Armour: $6.8 million annually; (9) Miami, Adidas: $6.55 million annually; (10) Oklahoma, Nike: $5.89 million annually; (11) Auburn, Under Armour: $5.86 million annually; (12) South Carolina, Under Armour: $4.72 million; (13) Texas A&M, Adidas: $4.06 million; (14) Kansas, Adidas: $4.05 million; (15) North Carolina State, Adidas: $3.65 million; (16) Indiana, Adidas: $3.52 million; (17) Maryland, Under Armour: $3.28 million; (18) Clemson, Nike: $3.2 million; (19) Tennessee, Nike: $3.08 million; (20) Cincinnati, Under Armour: $2.95 million.

I am still mind blown by Cincinnati having a better deal than UF.

5. As the Gators get ready for Saturday afternoon’s close encounter with Colorado State at The Swamp, I keep hoping this is the week when real leaders emerge. If you have paid close attention the first couple of weeks, then you’re probably scratching your head and asking when will some brave souls step forward to lead this football team. I questioned the leadership from the coaching staff the previous three years. I don’t question that the leadership at the top issues have been resolved. Dan Mullen and his staff are providing exceptional leadership and have the program heading in a direction that will bring championship football back to the University of Florida. But, coaching coaching alone doesn’t get it done. There has to be some leadership on the field. There has to be that Brandon Siler who wasn’t afraid to grab a slacker by the facemask and tell him to either step up his game or get off the field. There has to be that Tim Tebow type who commands the huddle, the sideline and the locker room. So far, we haven’t seen it. This would be a good week for the seeds of leadership to sprout.

6. SOME SEC THOUGHTS: South Carolina’s home encounter with Marshall is the latest game to be cancelled by Hurricane Florence. Athletic director Ray Tanner will try to add a 12th game later in the season. One reason Tanner elected to cancel the game was to free up hotel rooms for those fleeing Florence and for emergency personnel arriving from around the country … Look for Auburn to stack the box to stop LSU tailback Nick Brosette (262 yards and2 rushing TDs in two games) and dare QB Joe Burrow (21-44 passing for 291 yards and 2 TDs) to win the game with his arm … The way Arkansas played in the second half against Colorado State last week, nobody should be shocked if North Texas pulls off the win this weekend in Fayette Nam … OL Michael Story is back with Mississippi State after a two-game suspension related to an arrest on animal cruelty charges … Ole Miss coach Matt Luke says stopping Alabama on third down will be critical Saturday. I seriously doubt Alabama will have all that many third downs against that sieve of an Ole Miss defense … Ole Miss may have its best running back in years in juco transfer Scottie Phillips, who has 311 yards (10.03 per carry) and four TDs in two games … Texas A&M will be without sophomore linebacker Anthony Hines the rest of the season after he suffered a leg injury in final two minutes of the loss to Clemson last Saturday … Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt says quarterback Jarrett Guarantano (27-38 passing for 326 yards and a TD) is “doing a good job of eliminating negative plays; he’s kept his poise and he’s playing within himself” … Missouri’s improved defense has to keep close tabs on Purdue’s sensational freshman wide receiver Rondale Moore, who has caught 14 passes for 125 yards and a TD, run four times for 128 yards and a TD and returned six kickoffs for 123 yards. Against Northwestern, Moore caught passes for 109 yards, ran for 79 and returned kickoffs for 125 yards …Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams is stepping down and retiring.

7. SOME HEISMAN THOUGHTS: Stanford’s Bryce Love is injured and will not play Saturday when the Cardinal faces D1AA UC-Davis. Missing this game won’t necessarily hurt his Heisman hopes, but if he played and ran for 200-plus yards it would pad the stat line, which took a hit with a 29-yard effort in game one against San Diego State … With 300 rushing yards in two games, Kentucky tailback Bennie Snell Jr. belongs in the Heisman talk … Former Gator Will Grier, who quarterbacks West Virginia, is trending as the early Heisman Trophy leader. Through two games, Grier is 46-60 passing (76.7%) for 767 yards (12.7 per attempt) with nine touchdowns against a single interception … Wisconsin sophomore Jonathan Taylor has 391 rushing yards (7.8 per carry) and five TDs in two games … Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins is opening the eyes of a lot of Heisman voters with 42-53 passing (79.2%) for 546 yards (10.3 per attempt) and nine TDs against one INT … Will this be a year that a defensive player wins the Heisman? Houston DT Ed Oliver is being touted as a serious candidate. Through two games he has 18 tackles including four for -18 yards in losses, one pass batted down and six QB hurries.

8. SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS: New Orleans Saints QB and future Hall of Famer Drew Brees on Cleveland Browns rookie QB Baker Mayfield: “I think he can be a lot better than me” … James Conner, who beat cancer while playing collegiately at Pitt, ran for 135 yards and two TDs last Sunday … Nick Foles will once again get the start at QB for the Philadelphia Eagles against the Tampa Bay Bucs … The Boston Red Sox made it to 100 wins in 146 games, the fastest since the 2001 Seattle Mariners … After 15 Major League seasons, Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins will contemplate retirement. Remember when Mauer was the top prep QB in the country and an FSU signee? I wonder if he ever wonders what might have been. I guarantee Bobby Bowden does … Aaron Judge (fractured wrist) is taking batting practice but Yankees manager Aaron Boone says he isn’t sure when Judge will be ready to play again. When he got hurt, Judge had hit 26 homers with 61 RBI … I am eager to watch the Ryder Cup, which will be played in Paris, September 28-30. The American team will be Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed, Tony Finau, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.