Monday, November 25, 2013

Low times in Gainesville!

From the beginning of the Muschamp era I have been less than impressed. I didn’t think it was the right hire then and I am even more convinced of it today. Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t think the Texas program was heading in the right direction at the time, so why should we get the guy who was second in command of a dying program to continue the success at Florida? Or maybe it was the fact that he played at Georgia. Or maybe the fact that he hadn’t been a head coach and I didn’t think Florida is a good place to get your feet wet as a head football coach. But let’s be honest, Jeremy Foley has a pretty good track record for hiring successful coaches. So I was in the minority of those who didn’t like the hire at the time.

Three years and a lot of “firsts” later and Foley is apparently still sticking by Muschamp. That is after the first losing record since 1979. The first year of missing a bowl game in 22 seasons. The first loss to a FCS team since the end of World War II. The first time we have lost 6 games in a row since who knows when. Heck, even the 0-10-1 team didn’t do that! The losing streak is hard on everyone I know. I have only been around the Gators since 1987, so I am a spoiled fan. I need to get a grip right coach!

I can understand a couple of 8-4 seasons with the schedule we face every year. It’s hard to be in the top 5 every year now with the reduction of scholarships. But let me ask you a question if you are a Gator fan. How many times since Will took over the program have you felt good about the results of a Gator game? How many times even after a win in the Swamp have you felt like this team had a legitimate chance at winning the SEC East? Even during last year’s run to the Sugar Bowl, I kept telling people outside the orange and blue nation that we were doing it with smoke and mirrors. We won 4 games that we could have just as easily lost. This year’s team is only 4 plays away from last year’s team and the team before that one!

Some of you will say that is why he deserves another year as the head coach. But do you really want a team that is that close to mediocrity each year? Don’t you want a team that dominates the teams they should and has a better than average shot at winning every game? Remember when you used to go to the Swamp and the question wasn’t “if” we win but the margin of victory. That’s why I am not in favor of keeping Muschamp as coach. But I don’t get a vote and apparently neither do the 25000 or so that stayed away from Saturday’s game. And it will be worse this week. There will be more fans from the clown college than orange and blue for Saturday’s noon kickoff. Noon, are you serious, this is UF and FSU! We’re prime time material baby! Oh, my bad, I forget how far we have fallen.

But if you are going to keep the Head Coach, then please keep the Coordinators and the other coaches too. I have always hated how a head coach blames the assistants when things are going badly. Hey, you are the head coach, if you don’t like the offense or the defense, change it! Tell the OC to do something different, throw it more, run it more, or change the scheme, whatever!  But don’t sit there the entire year praising the way we do it and then the last game roll them under the bus because you lose to Georgia Southern. The offense has been ranked lower than 100 in each year under Muschamp and there have been two different OCs. Both of them had the reputations as creative play callers and running high octane offenses. What happened when they got to Florida? They got under a coach that doesn’t want to take chances. Keep things tight, don’t turn the ball over, shorten the game and let the defense do the work. That style just doesn’t work anymore against teams with equal talent and apparently not even against FCS schools. Apparently there a number of FCS programs with better talent and better coaches since they figured ways to stop the option and outscore mighty GSU this year. Enough of them did that GSU didn’t even make the playoffs!

Maybe the Gators can right the ship and pull the upset over FSU this weekend. Maybe the staff was holding back everything the last few weeks so they wouldn’t have good tape on our new offensive strategy. Maybe Gator fans will fill the swamp this week and make it the home field advantage the Gators need to pull one of the greatest upsets in the historic series. And maybe every turkey in America will survive this Thursday. The odds are about the same. I will be there until the end either way and cheering for the Orange and Blue.

And for my Nole friends, and this is not meant as a slight because I think you win either way, would you rather have the news break now that Famous is charged so you can get a game under your belt without him or have him charged next week right before the ACC championship game or sometime before the BCS game if you win them both? I am sure the answer for Nole fans is never! I feel sorry for the girl involved and for Jameis. I hope he’s not guilty but if he is then I won’t feel any sympathy for him. The whole thing has been poorly handled by the TPD and the State Attorney’s office. This should have been resolved months ago either way.

The first question I have for Saturday’s game is whether the Noles will score more than 45 points and break the record for points scored in the swamp by an opponent or score 63 and break the all-time record of points given up by the Gators. A second question is will the Gators be able to score and keep their consecutive non-shutout streak alive. Time will tell, but while it is always great to be a Florida Gator, some weeks it’s tougher than others and this week promises to be a real challenge. Enjoy it Noles, you have had to work for over a decade to experience it, but you are the better team this week. Let’s just hope you pull a Nole and lose a game you really have no business losing. So there is always hope!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

One of the Best Days to be a BCM Director

It is the way it is supposed to work, but still when you have been doing the work for as long as I have, it brings tears of joy to your eyes.

Yesterday was an incredible and incredibly long day. Because our BCM meets on Tuesday nights, I don’t always arrive early in the office. Usually, Tuesday mornings are filled with a long bike ride with my training partner and fellow campus minister Bob Gailey from Campus Christian House. But due to some knee pain, I have taken a few weeks off, so I was in the office at 8 after dropping my wife off at her office on campus. A normal day of finishing tasks, planning for the week with fellow BCM staff, visiting with students followed.

Lica and I try to eat dinner together on Tuesdays before she heads off to the house and then to praise team practice at church and I head back to the BCM for our weekly Gator meeting. Yesterday we met Zach Allen who came into town to be our guest speaker and bring one of his girls from First Baptist Church in Tallahassee who is transferring to UF in the spring. Zach is a great friend and previously served here as the college pastor at North Central Baptist Church. He is a true partner in ministry and is a blessing to Lance Beauchamp the BCM director at FSU. Lica and Jaclyn got to spend more time with Zach and his entourage of interns and students while I went back to the BCM to get ready for the evening meeting.

Zach did a great job of talking with our students about the necessity and value of local church membership to wrap up a two week series of messages on being connected to the local body of Christ. Pastor Craig Canton spoke last week about the way God puts the various parts of the body together through spiritual gifts to strengthen the whole body. After Gator was over, I spoke to one of our guys that I have wanted to meet with to see when we could get together and he said why not now.

I knew Alex had been dealing with the decision to trust Jesus as his savior so I was glad to share the gospel with him again as we talked. He was open about his questions and his struggles but he knew he needed and wanted to trust Jesus. And so I got to witness Alex giving his life to Jesus and accepting his gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life in my office last night. But it gets even better!

When I asked him where he was going to church he said he had been thinking about attending where some of his fish brothers and sisters (freshmen bible study members) go to, North Central Baptist Church. I knew Matt Seitz the current college pastor from there was still in the building so I was able to introduce Alex to Matt. They share a similar faith journey and spent some time talking together as I prepared to go home for the night.

That’s the way it is supposed to work. The BCM is a bridge for people like Alex who are exploring the idea of faith and returning to church but don’t want to fully commit yet. At least in our BCM the work isn’t done until we can share the gospel with them, love them during the journey, and help them get connected to the local body of Christ. God used invites to an event, Fish Parents who shared the gospel, fellow students who encouraged his questions, a local BCM director talking about being connected to the vine, a FSU college pastor talking about church membership, and a local college pastor who hangs out at the BCM until almost 11 pm to create a path for one of His children to come home. That’s why we do what we do, for His glory!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Newest Action Thriller Stait of Hormuz from Best-Selling Author Davis Bunn

“Marc Royce had never been to Switzerland before. He was there without backup. He was not prepped. He had come because the one person in the world he could not refuse had asked for his help.”

And with that the readers of Davis Bunn’s latest novel in the Marc Royce Trilogy, Strait of Hormuz, are engaged in a new plot with some familiar characters. Although Royce thinks he is alone in Geneva, he has allies. One is so familiar it is painful. In a few chapters we come to learn that Kitra Korban has been sent to assist her recently ex-boyfriend. Bunn has done a masterful job of weaving an intricate and intimate romance within a page-turning edge of your seat action novel.

As in the other two books in this trilogy, Lion of Babylon and Rare Earth, readers are treated to detailed descriptions of locations in several countries. Bunn takes the time and effort to thoroughly develop the settings of the events in order to bring the reader along on the incredible and dangerous journey facing Marc and Kitra. It is hard for me to imagine anyone reading these pages and not develop your own mental imagery of the surroundings. I hope one day to see these come to life on the big screen and compare my images with the real or created in Hollywood backdrops.
Without giving away the story, the plot revolves around an international incident and a national crisis that confronts several nations. The delicate situation involves multiple parties from multiple cultures and countries that must trusted allies fast in order to save many lives. There is a common thread, but that is only found in time and through the initial trust of the parties involved. As usual, Bunn manages to write an action novel that includes faith without coming off as fake or forced. The story of Marc’s faith and how it affects his life as an agent continues to unfold in way that will seem natural to those who have read the previous two volumes but will also make sense if this is your first foray into the world of Marc Royce.

Without apology, I am a fan of Davis Bunn the man and the author. While his life may not been as action packed as his characters, I do recognize some of the stories he has shared with me from his personal life of living in Europe that serve as a back drop for some of the action in Strait of Hormuz. I was a bit perplexed when I finished the book because I am not sure that the title actually fits the story totally. I expected more action on the open seas and more of a salty version of the story than there actually is. Since most of the story takes place in locations other than the Strait it seems a bit of a stretch to title the book the way it was. I don’t think you will worry about the title and I wouldn’t have either if I were not writing this review.

Overall, the book was a wonderful read. I just wish I hadn’t finished it so soon. If this is the last time we read of the exploits of Marc and Kitra, it will be a sad day! Their story has so much more to develop and tell! Maybe if all of us who read the book, press and press, then like a musical act at a concert, Davis Bunn will give us an encore appearance of the couple. Or maybe it’s just better that we all write our own endings!

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in order to submit this review on the date of the book release.