Franz Beard: Thoughts of the Day

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: APRIL 3, 2019

SPURRIER WON’T GET A CHAMPIONSHIP

With just two weeks remaining, Steve Spurrier was poised to win a championship in the Alliance of American Football but the Orlando Apollos won’t have a chance to finish the regular season with the best record in the league and then win the playoffs. League owner Tom Dundon, the owner of the NHL Carolina Hurricanes, pulled the plug on the league Tuesday. To put it mildly, Spurrier wasn’t happy with the decision.

Spurrier told the Orlando Sentinel, “Everybody wanted to play out the season and everybody is disappointed. Everyone was led to believe that the Alliance was well-funded and we could play three years without making any money and this, that and the other. Obviously, everything that was said was not very truthful.

“When the new owner came in, we thought we had financial backing and we’d be able to at least play out the season. We never thought it would end like this.”

There was no support for the AAF from the NFL and that’s a bit of a surprise. Because there is no minor league for the NFL, a spring league with a short schedule (AAF 10 games) would seem to be ideal for developing players who didn’t make the 53-man rosters but showed potential. In the worst way the NFL need some sort of way to develop backup quarterbacks. They certainly don’t get practice snaps or live game action once the season begins in September unless there is an injury.

It would be very nice to have a spring league but it’s going to be very difficult to succeed unless the NFL decides to lend some financial support.

GATORS RIP FAMU IN TUNEUP FOR OLE MISS

Nelson Maldanado and Kendrick Calilao homered and five Florida pitchers held Florida A&M (11-20) to two hits as the 16th-ranked Gators (21-10, 4-5 SEC) hammered the Rattlers, 12-1, in a tuneup for their weekend series against 20th-ranked Ole Miss (20-10, 5-4 SEC) in Oxford.

Maldanado went 3-3 to raise his batting average to .345. He hit his fifth homer of the season, a solo shot to left field as part of a 6-run fourth inning. Calilao made it back-to-back homers when he followed Maldanado with his fourth homer of the season. Austin Langworthy, went 3-5 with two singles and a double.

Nolan Crisp (2-0) got the start and the win, pitching three hitless innings with two walks and a strikeout. David Leuthje gave up one hit in three innings, while Nick Blasucci, Nick Pogue and Hunter McMullen each pitched an inning.

GATORS IN THE RANKINGS

The Gators are ranked 2ndin the ITATennis.com men’s poll.

Florida’s men’s outdoor track and field team is ranked 3rdin the USTFCC poll.

The women’s outdoor track and field team is ranked 5thin the USTFCC poll.

Florida women’s golf is ranked 7thin the Golfweek.com poll.

The Gators are ranked 8thin the latest USA Today/NFCA Coaches softball poll.

Florida baseball is ranked 16thin the Baseball America poll, 18thin the NCBWA poll, 20thin the Collegiate Baseball poll and 21stin the D1Baseball.com poll.

Florida lacrosse is ranked 19thin the latest Inside Lacrosse poll.

The Gators are 23rdin the ITATennis.com women’s poll.

Florida men’s golf is ranked 41stin the latest Golfweek.com poll.

FIVE POTENTIAL GRAD TRANSFERS TO UF HOOPS

Justin Pierce (6-7, 215, William and Mary): Pierce is really attractive because not only can he score and rebound but he can defend multiple positions. He averaged 14.7 while grabbing 8.6 rebounds in 2018 and improved to 14.9 points and 8.9 rebounds this past season. He shot 41.6% on 3-balls in 2018 but slumped a bit to 32.4% this past season. He averaged 4.1 assists per game.

Matt Milon (6-5, 190, William and Mary): He’s a native of Oviedo who has scored 895 points in three years at William and Mary, averaging 13 per game in each of the last two seasons. He’s a lefty and a career 42.6% 3-point shooter.

Rapolus Ivanauskus (6-10, 225, Colgate): He started out at Northwestern then transferred to Colgate where he averaged 15.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while hitting 51.7% overall from the field and 43.4% on 3-pointers. He’s a native of Lithuania with two years of eligibility.

Joey Brunk (6-11, 230, Butler): He’s big, he bangs, he plays defense and he’s got two full years of eligibility remaining. He averaged 7.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game while hitting 61.7% of his shots. He is a very capable scorer who has very good low post moves and can score with either hand. Strictly an in the paint guy.

Kerry Blackshear Jr. (6-10, 250, Virginia Tech): He is expected to be in play as a grad transfer as soon as Texas A&M and Buzz Williams finalize their contract. Blackshear, who ate up Duke with 18 points and 16 rebounds in the Sweet 16 game, is an Orlando native (Evans High School) and a career 1,152-point scorer. He improved from 12.5 points and 5.9 rebounds in 2018 to 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds this past season. He hit 50.8% from the field and 33.3% on 3-pointers.

SEC BASKETBALL STUFF

Auburn sophomore Chuma Okeke underwent successful surgery to repair his torn ACL. No timeline has been given for his return.

Arkansas Plan A is all but history. Kelvin Sampson is on the verge of signing an extension that might be even greater than the 6-year, $18 million deal that was being reported a day ago. Houston is determined to keep Sampson and has made a number of other concessions with his family (son Kellen is an assistant, daughter Lauren is director of external basketball operations).

Arkansas Plan 1A is Chris Beard, the head coach at Final Four-bound Texas Tech. He’s making $3.15 million per year and has already earned $475,000 in bonus money for getting the Red Raiders to the Final Four. A contract extension and hefty pay raise are in the works. Also, he’s a Texas guy who went to UT and did graduate work at Abilene Christian plus he was an assistant to Bobby Knight at Texas Tech. So, who is Plan B for Arkansas? That’s anybody’s guess right now but you can bet the farm they’ve struck out on plans A and 1A.

Supposedly, Vanderbilt is in serious negotiations to bring on former North Carolina/NBA star and current Memphis Grizzlies assistant Jerry Stackhouse as the head coach. Emphasis on supposed. This is Vanderbilt and at some point you almost expect someone or something to screw up.

Will Wade wants to remain the head basketball coach at LSU. Of course, he does. Because he’s suspended, he’s not cashing the monthly payouts on his $2.5 million salary. Assistant coach Tasmin Mitchell says, “He loves LSU and wants his job back.” Rick Pitino loved Louisville and wanted his job back, too. We know how that turned out. Earth to Will Wade: See who wants to hire you in the NBA or else do what Pitino did and pick up your paycheck in Greece or somewhere in Europe. LSU isn’t about to re-hire you and the wiretap phone call is the mere tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the cheating that took place under your direction.

Buzz Williams will be the next head coach at Texas A&M and from all accounts, he’s about to become the second highest paid basketball coach in the Southeastern Conference. Mick Cronin (Cincinnati) wants (badly) to leave Cincy for Virginia Tech. That could happen in a hurry once Buzz signs his megadeal with the Aggies.

New Alabama coach Nate Oats has a 5-year contract that will pay $2.45 million per season … Oats is bringing assistant coach Bryan Hodgson and strength and conditioning coach Mike Snowden with him from Buffalo.

Bucknell center Nate Sestina (6-9, 245) visited Kentucky Monday and is expected to commit to the Wildcats. He averaged 15.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last season.

Tennessee is in a recruiting battle with North Carolina for grad transfer Rayjon Tucker (6-5, 210). A Charlotte native, Tucker averaged 20.3 points and 6.7 rebounds while hitting 41.3% of his 3-pointers at Little Rock. South Carolina is also making a push.

Tennessee’s Grant Williams, the two-time SEC Player of the Year, made the Associated Press first team All-America. Kentucky’s PJ Washington was named to the third team.

SEC FOOTBALL STUFF

Georgia is obviously making a run at winning the Fulmer Cup this year. There have been six arrests in the last 30 days at UGa, the latest linebackers Robert Beal and Brenton Cox, who were charged with possession of marijuana. HBC Kirby Smart’s response: “Obviously, I’ve done a poor job with this group.” Ya think?

Linebacker Jacob Phillips and corner Kristian Fulton were full contact for LSU’s practice on Tuesday … The first unit O-line was LT Saahdiq Charles, LG Adrian Magee, C Lloyd Cushenberry, RG Damien Lewis and RT Austin Deculus.

At Texas A&M, Ryan McCollum, Colton Prater and Barton Clement shared the snaps at center in the first scrimmage of the spring. They’re vying to replace Erik McCoy, who started 39 straight games and might have worked his way into the first round of the NFL Draft.

Mac Jones seems way ahead of the pack to become the clearcut backup QB to Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama. Jones threw for 123 yards and a TD as the third teamer last year. Competing with him for the backup job are Paul Tyson and Taulia Tagovailoa … Alabama punter Mike Bernier has entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal.

Offensive linemen Colton Jackson, Silas Robinson and Drew Vest will miss the rest of the spring at Arkansas.

Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt was pleased with the offense after the Vols first scrimmage. Pruitt said, “Didn’t turn the ball over and ran the ball pretty efficiently. Was pretty good on third down offensively.”

A quarterback controversy might be brewing at Kentucky where incumbent starter Terry Wilson is playing well but being challenged by Gunnar Hoak. “Terry’s really done good,” said HBC Mark Stoops. “I was really impressed with Gunnar … Terry has worked extremely hard. We’re improving but I thought Gunnar really had a good scrimmage.”

Ball State transfer Riley Neal has established himself as the clearcut #1 quarterback at Vanderbilt.

GENO AURIEMMA SAID IT

UConn women’s basketball coach, who has won 11 NCAA titles and has taken the Huskies to 12 straight Final Fours, went off on the transfer culture that pervades in both the women’s and men’s games Tuesday.

Auriemma said: “The majority of coaches in America are afraid of their players. The NCAA, the athletic directors and society has made them afraid of their players. Every article you read: ‘This guy’s a bully. This woman’s a bully. This guy went over the line. This woman was inappropriate.’

“Yet the players get off scot-free in everything. They can do whatever they want. They don’t like something you say to them, they transfer. Coaches, they have to coach with one hand behind their back. Why? Because some people have abused the role of a coach.”

Additionally, Auriemma said: “People gave [Michigan State men’s coach] Tom Izzo a lot of grief for something he did on the sideline. His players loved that. He doesn’t have to care what you think of it. He just has to care what his players think of it. If his players all transferred, if his players all quit on him, then he went over the line. If his players play really hard for him, they keep winning, they love him, they keep coming back to the program, then that’s passion.”

RANDOM THOUGHTS: In the aftermath of North Carolina shutting down its entire women’s basketball staff, two starters and a key reserve announced they’re transferring out … Named to the 2019 College Basketball Hall of Fame were coaches Lute Olsen (Long Beach State, Arizona), Rick Majerus (Marquette, Ball State, Utah, St. Louis) and Homer Drew (Valparaiso) and players Calbert Cheaney (Indiana), Shane Battier (Duke), Terry Dischinger (Purdue), Ernie DiGregorio (Providence), Larry Johnson (UNLV) and Todd Lichti (Stanford) … Just in case you were holding your breath and wondering who’s going to play for all the marbles in the Nobody’s Interested Tournament (NIT), it’s Lipscomb of the Atlantic Sun Conference and Texas.