Bob Sparks - 2/59 - SaintPetersBlog

Bob Sparks

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

Gators rewarded, Seminoles dissed in AP Top 25 poll

For those paying attention to polls, Florida Gators fans should be glad while Florida State Seminoles followers should be mad. The Gators surged to the No. 17 position in the AP Top 25 poll, while Florida State moved up one spot to the 14th position.

Both teams won their two games since the last poll, but only one appears to have impressed poll voters.

The Gators had two huge wins over the week. A 39-point win over Missouri and a 22-point blowout of former No. 8 Kentucky facilitated Florida’s seven position climb in the poll. They are still two spots behind the Wildcats.

Florida is on an incredible run of four straight wins of at least 22 points, three of which were by more than 30. They are playing like a strong NCAA Tournament contender.

Florida State, on the other hand, was not rewarded for an impressive week. An 18-point blowout at Miami, followed by a nearly-perfect 48-point dismantling of Clemson, apparently made the voters yawn.

Despite having a better conference record (8-3 vs. 7-3), overall record (20-4 vs. 19-5) and a victory over Louisville, the Seminoles are ranked 10 spots below the Cardinals! Despite having a better conference record (8-3 vs. 7-3), overall record (20-4 vs. 17-5) AND a victory at Virginia, the Seminoles are ranked two spots below the Cavaliers!

Virginia also lost at Syracuse this week.

Gators’ Coach Mike White and Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton both understand they have outstanding teams and further understand polls will take care of themselves as long as they keep winning. Hamilton, however, may have the better short-term motivational tool with the obvious lack of respect shown for his team.

Gonzaga shot to the top of the poll followed by Villanova and Kansas. They Jayhawks maintained their position despite losing at home to unranked Iowa State.

Florida State is one of five ACC teams ranked this week while Florida is among only three SEC teams in the top 25.  The Big East had four teams, while the Big 12, Big 10 and Pac 12 had three each. The West Coast Conference and American Athletic Conference each had two.

The Top 25 poll can be found here.

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Patriots motivated by hope of humiliating Commissioner Roger Goodell

Several storylines surround Sunday’s Super Bowl LI between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. The Patriots are going for their fifth Lombardi Trophy while an Atlanta victory will give them their first.

After the commercials, the halftime and, of course, the game, even more intrigue possibly awaits viewers still sober enough to care. Just the mere ritual of handing off the trophy could be yet another contest.

If the Falcons prevail, Commissioner Roger Goodell and owner Arthur Blank will have a photo op full of smiles showing natural elation for Blank and relief for Goodell. If it’s the Patriots, owner Robert Kraft will surely exult in taking the trophy from the man who prosecuted the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady through the Deflategate controversy.

New England fans may want this trophy more than the other four. They believe, as does Kraft, that the team and Brady did nothing wrong and were unfairly punished.

They want to see Goodell squirm as he hands off the expensive hardware before hundreds of millions of viewers around the globe. This presentation is usually between the Commissioner, the owner, and the coach, but no one will be surprised if Kraft brings Brady to the ceremony should New England prevail.

There is precedent. In the 1980s, Raiders’ owner Al Davis and then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle grew to loathe one another.

Davis wished to move his team from Oakland to Los Angeles, but Rozelle and fellow owners blocked the move. Davis sued the NFL, but despite losing the lawsuit, wound up in LA a few years later.

While the Kraft/Goodell disagreement abides by the Marquis of Queensbury rules, Davis and Goodell feuded in public.

As the 1981 Super Bowl between the Raiders and the Philadelphia Eagles approached, Oakland players were obsessed with seeing Rozelle in their locker room handing over the trophy to Davis.

“I want to see Rozelle in this locker room,” said Hall of Fame lineman Gene Upshaw. “I guarantee when he walks in our locker room, he’s going to get booed. And I will lead it.”

The Raiders swamped the Eagles 27-10 leading to the iconic Associated Press photo of Rozelle doing what he did not wish to do. Davis can be seen with a clenched fist totally relishing the moment.

New England is not only thinking about the post-game locker room, they have next year’s season opener on their mind. They want to force Goodell to attend their season opener to be played on a Thursday night in Foxborough, Mass. The Commissioner traditionally attends the Super Bowl Champion’s first game the following season.

If Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and company do their thing, all of this will be moot. As for the Patriots, winning another ring is solid motivation, but they will be playing for that extra motivation of seeing Roger Goodell in their locker room after the game.

Should that happen, much more commentary will come from that exchange instead of any of the Doritos or Budweiser commericals.

 

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Gators becoming state’s second basketball powerhouse

For the past month, talk of college basketball in the Sunshine State has been dominated by the Florida State Seminoles. Over the past two weeks, the Florida Gators have emphatically joined the conversation.

Saturday’s convincing 88-66 win over No. 8 Kentucky will lift a few eyebrows just a few weeks before March Madness begins. It is no exaggeration to say the Gators, ranked at No. 24 for now, overwhelmed the Wildcats in ways many thought not possible.

Kentucky came into the game averaging 91 points, but was held 25 points under that average by a swarming Gator defense. The Wildcats managed to shoot only 38 percent from the field and earned precious few second-chance points because they were outrebounded by Florida by a staggering 54-29 margin.

“Florida outplayed us, outcoached us, they did everything sideways and deserved to win,” said Kentucky Coach John Calipari.

Yes, they did, but they are far from alone. For what it’s worth, Kentucky came the closest to beating Florida during the last four games.

Since an inexplicable 68-66 home loss to Vanderbilt on January 21, Florida has beaten their last four opponents by a combined score of 371-243. Included are 35 and 32-point road wins over LSU and Oklahoma, respectively.

Following the Vanderbilt debacle, Florida’s second consecutive loss, Coach Mike White called a team meeting to lay everything on the table. At the end of what was described as a “long meeting,” White described it in positive terms.

“I think it was productive at this point,” White said. “We’ll see how much carryover it has.”

They committed to defense, but the only evidence White could provide was from practice. The proof would come, and continues to come, over the last four games that brought about complete dominance.

Kasey Hill is finally living up to the massive hype surrounding his recruitment to Florida four years ago. He has become a playmaker with a little scoring mixed in.

When Hill hits jumpers as he did on Saturday, the Gators are very dangerous. His marksmanship produced a less-than-humble response from Calipari.

“That happens against us. Guys have beer muscles,” said Calipari. “All of a sudden, they are better than they are.”

While Hill is making some outside shots, Florida would still be winning if he were shooting at 35 percent. The reason is because he is getting plenty of help from teammates at BOTH ENDS of the court.

Remember, the twin objectives of basketball is scoring and keeping the ball out of the other team’s basket. Over the past four games, the Gators are fulfilling those objectives in big ways.

Playing as hard and as well as they are makes them a threat to win the SEC regular season and tournament titles. They are now playing for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.

A huge test comes their way on Tuesday when they go to Athens to face the Georgia Bulldogs. In the first meeting in Gainesville on January 14, Florida came from behind to take an 80-76 win in overtime.

Florida is now tied for second place in the SEC with Kentucky at 8-2. South Carolina, who comes to Gainesville on February 21, leads with a 9-1 conference mark.

The Gators, now 18-5 overall, will finish the regular season at Kentucky on February 25.

If they are playing as well at the end of the season as they are now, they could be primed for a deep run into the Big Dance.

 

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Will Saturday’s loss to Syracuse lead to jumps from FSU bandwagon?

The Florida State bandwagon is becoming lighter today. After Saturday’s demoralizing 82-72 loss to an average Syracuse team, some within Seminole Nation will look toward Wednesday’s National Signing Day for football.

It is certainly not every year that No. 6 Florida State has an 18-4 record and is a lock for the NCAA Tournament. That information stays in the background as the newest basketball supporters are certain to become the first to jump ship.

Good teams lose two games in a row, just as the Seminoles have done. It is the way they have gone down, set up by disastrous first halves, which will prompt the exodus.

Those that look for the first opportunity to criticize Coach Leonard Hamilton will take Saturday’s result as the go-ahead to resume the assault. They will talk about FSU falling behind by 26 and 18 points by halftime in their past two games as proof Hamilton cannot lead his team through adversity.

While it is true a coach’s job is to have his team ready to play, his players have to score and defend, especially in the first half. The Seminoles simply did not have an answer to the 2-3 zone employed by the Orange.

The best way to bust a zone is to make some shots, which is what FSU finally starting doing in the second half. Helped by some sharp three-point shooting, they trimmed 44-26 deficit to three points with about 13 minutes remaining.

Despite some chances to get even or pull ahead, they were never able to get the key stop or make the key shot. In the latter stages of the game, some ill-advised shots went up from multiple Seminole players.

“We cut the lead to two several times, but could not get over the hump,” said Hamilton.

Star forward Jonathan Isaac and guard Dwayne Bacon struggled in the first half, but caught fire in the second half. Still, their twin 19-point performances were not enough.

In the last three minutes and the game very much in doubt, the defense could not prevent Orange guard John Gillon, who scored 21 points, from penetrating into the lane. The result was either free throws (11 out of 12) or a layup.

Florida State’s defense, which enticed even more onto the bandwagon, has the reputation for wearing opponents down. Syracuse seemed ripe for a collapse as Coach Jim Boeheim used only seven players in the game.

Tyler Lydon and Andrew White III played all 40 minutes. The five players who were on the floor for 33 minutes or more still had enough in the tank to pull out the win.

For the second straight game, FSU seemed to lose their poise at certain points of the game. Playing with a lead can certainly help in that regard.

Hamilton is at the point where his team needs coaching. There are the Xs and Os of basketball, as well as the mental aspect. His team needs both.

If they are to break their two-game losing streak on Wednesday, they will have to beat a Miami Hurricanes team in Coral Gables that throttled No. 9 North Carolina on Saturday. Will this year’s basketball players generate as much excitement as next year’s football players on Wednesday?

Leonard Hamilton and the true believers certainly hope so.

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NBA figures turning up rhetoric on Donald Trump

It is safe to say President Donald Trump has a few detractors. Many of his supporters tend to keep their views to themselves, but those opposed to him, especially those in the entertainment world, often have a lot to say.

Sports figures, including those aligned with the NBA, are beginning to share their views. Players such as LeBron James make no secret of their disdain for the 45th President. Some coaches and owners are joining the forum.

Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich might be on opposite sides when their teams meet on the court, but there is something they have in common. The Golden State Warriors‘ coach and San Antonio Spurs‘ head man are not big fans of the President.

Both coaches were prompted to comment on the tumultuous opening days of the Trump Administration on days their teams scored impressive road victories. One took the humor route, while the other was significantly harsher.

On Sunday, after the Warriors blew away the Orlando Magic, Kerr had the chance to use sarcasm instead of venom.

Kerr, who briefly played for the Magic in 1992-93, was introduced before the game by Magic PA Announcer Paul Porter as a “former Magic star.” Kerr was asked in the postgame interview if that was an example of “alternative facts,” the term used to describe an incorrect statement provided by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Saturday.

Kerr averaged 2.6 points per game during his brief Magic stay, so he took the chance to jab Spicer.

“Sean Spicer will be talking about my Magic career any second now,” Kerr told reporters. “14,000 points. Greatest Magic player ever.”

Popovich, on the other hand, was far more direct. Before his team scored a huge victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, he was prompted to comment on the President.

“All of the things he said (during the campaign), if our children would have said it, we would have grounded them for six months,” he said. “But we ignore all of that, because…because why? That says something about all of us.”

It’s not the first time either coach has commented on Trump and it likely will not be the last. Shortly after the election, Popovich described the fact Trump is leading our country as “disgusting.”

Sports figures, like anyone else, are free to offer their political opinions. They have the right to say what they think, just as much as those hearing the message can tune it out or react negatively to it.

Popovich and Kerr are at the top of their profession and can feel free to comment without significant fallout from their fan base as long as their teams keep winning. How many coaches with losing records are commenting on political issues?

Another well-known NBA figure with anti-Trump views is Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban. The star of “Shark Tank” openly campaigned for Hillary Clinton and called Trump “bat **** crazy” on the trail.

Yet, he is taking a “wait-and-see” attitude on President Trump. To the surprise of many, Cuban is not piling on.

“Rather than shadow boxing about what he might do, I’d rather deal with what he does,” Cuban said. “And there are some positive things and some negative things, just like with any president.”

If the economy grows like Trump predicts, entrepreneurs like Cuban will benefit, which makes his comments a smart approach. He has far more business interests than just the Mavericks.

If the Spurs or the Warriors win the NBA Championship, will the team accept invitations to the White House as other champions before them? If the Cavaliers repeat, there will clearly be some issues, according to forward Richard Jefferson. James will “cross that bridge” when it appears.

Who will be next to step in the spotlight?

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Seminoles jump to No. 6 in AP Top 25; Gators 25th

For the first time since 1993, the Florida State Seminoles are the sixth-ranked team in the Associated Press Top 25 men’s basketball poll. The Florida Gators managed to stay in the top 25 despite two losses last week.

Coach Leonard Hamilton’s 18-2 team vaulted four spots to claim the highest rank for any ACC team and their highest ranking in 24 years. Despite not losing, North Carolina remained in the ninth spot, watching the Seminoles leap over them.

The Tar Heels beat the Seminoles in Chapel Hill on January 14, Florida State’s only loss in their last 15 games.

The Gators, meanwhile, fell from No. 19 to No. 25 after losses to No. 23 South Carolina on the road and to unranked Vanderbilt at home. Many felt the Vanderbilt loss would take them out of the rankings, but they barely hung on.

Part of the reason for the FSU surge is the play within the strongest conference in college basketball. In addition to their 6-1 conference record, they have defeated five teams in the top 25 including No. 12 Virginia (on the road), No. 13 Louisville, No. 14 Notre Dame, No. 17 Duke and No. 25 Florida.

Defending Champion Villanova and Kansas remained at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Gonzaga, the last remaining major unbeaten came in at No. 3 while Kentucky and Baylor are fourth and fifth, respectively.

The ACC has six teams in the top 25, while the Big East  has four.  The SEC, Big 10, Big 12, and Pac 12 have three each while the West Coast has two and the American Athletic Conference one.

The full AP Top 25 poll is here.

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Despite end of six-game grind, FSU still faces daunting schedule

The six-game grinder in the Florida State men’s basketball schedule is now complete. No ACC team in 24 years faced the challenge of so many consecutive games against top 25 teams.

It says a great deal that FSU was able to win five of those games.

With Saturday’s wire-to-wire 73-68 win over No. 12 Louisville, the level of competition diminishes somewhat. At least on paper.

While the next three games are against teams outside the top 25, all three are on the road. And that’s where trouble could come.

Playing on the road brings its own challenges, no matter the opponent. The chance to knock off a top 10 team brings sufficient motivation. Florida State had better be prepared for that.

None of their last six opponents were taken lightly. It was not difficult to be emotionally ready to face top 25 teams Virginia, Virginia Tech, Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Louisville.

Upsets often come when the emotional gas tank is depleted or an inferior opponent is taken lightly.

The Seminoles (18-2, 6-1 ACC) will be a solid top 10 team when they show up in Atlanta on Wednesday night to face Georgia Tech. They will go into the game as heavy favorites.

North Carolina was also a big favorite against the Yellowjackets on New Year’s Eve, but went back to Chapel Hill with an 85-73 loss. Georgia Tech is 9-3 at home, but they will be ready to ambush the Seminoles.

It is always difficult to play in Syracuse, but Florida State will go there next Saturday. The Orange are only 10-10, with four of those losses coming at the Carrier Dome.

The Seminoles will be in Miami on February 1 to face the Hurricanes. Miami is 12-5 this year (with three home losses) heading into Sunday’s game at Duke.

No one should doubt they will give FSU their best effort.

While none of these three games will define their season, they will go a long way into determining FSU’s seeding in the NCAA tournament. Coach Leonard Hamilton knows why his team is successful and why they should finish strong.

“This team communicates with each other well. They hold each other accountable,” he said after the Louisville victory. “There’s really no drama with them. They believe in each other.”

He believes his team understands that a game against Louisville will be a different game against Georgia Tech. His team understands that “each game takes on a different personality.”

In addition to the next three games, four other road games remain on the schedule, including trips to Notre Dame and Duke.

It is difficult to forget this is a young team unaccustomed to being in big-time games coming down the stretch. Their go-to guys are a freshman (Jonathan Isaac) and a sophomore (Dwayne Bacon). Junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes is an old man within this group.

While a tough stretch of the schedule is over, life in the ACC means there are no nights off. The remainder of the schedule will reveal the true personality of this talented team.

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Builders Stephen Bittel and Donald Trump have things in common

Everyone in America knows the name of President Donald Trump. On the other hand, few are familiar with Stephen Bittel, even in his home state of Florida.

As of noon on Friday, Donald Trump officially became the President of the United States. As of January 14, Bittel became the latest Chairman of the Florida Democratic Party.

For all of the obvious differences of party affiliation, the two men have some things in common. Both are wealthy developers. Both are known to say what is on their mind.

To no one’s surprise, Trump has a 55 percent negative rating (as does Hillary Clinton). One of the key factors leading to that score is the perception, true or not, that Trump is a bully.

As the vote for Democratic Chairman approached, Bittel faced four challengers unimpressed with his style. Dwight Bullard, Alan Clendenin, Lisa King and Leah Carius thought Bittel was pushing his weight around too much.

“Somebody in this race has been trying to bully and intimidate people,” Clendenin said.

Sound familiar?

In fact, the quartet had their own unofficial “Anyone but Bittel” cabal. They claimed to control 60 percent of the votes, thereby denying Bittel the chairmanship.

“We are standing shoulder to shoulder,” added Clendenin.

Sound familiar? Backed in large part by the Democratic establishment, Bittel won on the first ballot.

Democrats hate, to different degrees, what Trump is all about. They don’t like the way he won and the type of supporters he attracted.

The guess here is that in Bittel, Democrats have elected a chairman that will behave in some ways like Trump. In other words, he promises to be an aggressive, active chairman that seeks to make the Florida Democratic Party great again. #MFDPGA?

The task before Trump is well known. What confronts Bittel is understood mainly by those entrenched in party politics.

Trump knows a $20 trillion debt is daunting. In the world of Florida politics, so is the job facing Bittle and the Democrats. An example is illustrative.

My friend and former colleague Jason Gonzalez recently posted this “gee-whiz” nugget on Facebook. In the bluest of blue counties, Leon, here are the Republicans who affect those constituents on the state and federal level:

President and Vice-President; Speaker of the House and Majority Leader in the Senate; Governor of Florida and all three Cabinet positions; Speaker of the Florida House and President of the state Senate.

Here’s the final straw. With Dr. Neal Dunn’s victory in Congressional District 2 (Gwen Graham did not seek re-election), Republicans control all of those positions at the same time for the first time ever as of noon on Friday.

(NOTE: some Leon County residents, like this writer, reside in the district served by Rep. Al Lawson, a decent guy).

Bittel has heard the criticism of the state party for not helping develop a “farm team” or “bench” of young, charismatic candidates. Florida is far from alone in facing problems brought on by an overloaded focus on presidential elections at the expense of winning locally.

Look no further than the trouble Democrats have in nonpresidential year elections for an illustration. A must-read piece in Politico Magazine by Edward-Isaac Dovere shows the national dilemma confronting Democrats with Florida serving only as a microcosm.

Only 16 of our country’s governors are Democrats, while 32 state legislatures are controlled by the GOP. Democrats lost 1,034 state and federal legislative seats over the past eight years.

“There’s no bench, no bench for a bench, no one able to speak for the party as a whole,” Dovere wrote.

Over the years, Bittel has raised large sums for Democrats. As chairman, he has a chance to close some of the canyon-sized gap in money Florida Republicans have enjoyed for years.

If he employs some of Trump’s qualities in bringing disaffected Democrats, their passion and their money to the cause — and starts building a bench — being a bully won’t be such a bad thing. I am not in the business of giving Democrats advice, nor would they want it.

That being said, for one of the few times in recent memory, Florida Democrats may have made a good move in electing Stephen Bittel. Republicans should keep an eye and ear on him.

 

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Florida State star Jonathan Isaac has the talent to overcome rare mistake

Jonathan Isaac is a unique talent in the world of college basketball. Unfortunately, those talents are likely to be on display in Tallahassee for only two more months, or however far Florida State goes in the NCAA Tournament.

Isaac is destined for the NBA, where he will likely excel. The 6’10” 5-star forward from Naples and the IMG Academy would be there now if the league did not require at least one year of college (that’s another story).

His talent is easy to see just by watching a few minutes of an FSU game. Isaac and his teammates play just as hard at both ends of the court, but he has the talent to make plays his teammates cannot.

The late Al Maguire, who coached Marquette to the 1977 NCAA title before serving as an NBC commentator, wasn’t much into freshmen. One of his most famous quotes was “the best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores.”

Not in today’s world. Now, the most talented freshmen (Diaper Dandies if you’re into Dick Vitale), become NBA draft choices.

That means they either blow the scouts away in high school, or they develop rapidly. Isaac fits both descriptions.

Wednesday night’s 83-80 victory over No. 15 Notre Dame is a case in point. With FSU’s other future NBA player, Sophomore Dwayne Bacon, having an off night, Isaac, with a big assist from Xavier Rathan-Mayes, put the team on their shoulders.

Both made huge shots down the stretch to keep the fighting Irish at bay, but Isaac was also swatting shots away at the other end. His 23 points and 10 rebounds were huge, but all seven of his blocked shots were necessary to keep Notre Dame from stealing the win.

The Fighting Irish made an astonishing 15 of 21 three-point attempts.

“That’s ridiculous,” Isaac said. “That’s crazy.”

FSU Coach Leonard Hamilton, who has been around a lot longer than Isaac, added to that.

“I’ve never seen a team shoot 15 of 21 from 3, period,” Hamilton said. “I’ve never witnessed that.”

The last two blocks came in the final five seconds, but there is a story behind that, too. After Rex Pflueger’s miracle 3-pointer went in, narrowing the gap to 83-80, Isaac prepared to inbound the ball.

The freshman coughed it up to Pflueger, setting the stage for a highly deflating ending. Instead, Isaac recovered to block two shots in those five seconds without fouling, thereby sealing the win.

Yes, he made a huge mistake, but that was after a game of highlights that included making four clutch free throws in the final 26 seconds. He then recovered from that mistake in a big way.

None of the accounts in the Tallahassee media pointed out Isaac made the potentially critical turnover. Perhaps it might get in the way of the story on how well he played overall.

In fact, it is just the opposite. He is gifted, but not perfect. One bad play was followed by two great plays. Isn’t that what great players do?

That is not the mindset of a freshman. Maguire would agree it would be an unexpected pleasure if Isaac became a sophomore.

The next test for the freshman and his teammates comes Saturday when No. 12 Louisville travels to Tallahassee.

 

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Larry Robinson a good choice for FAMU, Tallahassee

Florida A&M University is one of America’s most recognized Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). It is the only HBCU within Florida’s State University System.

Together with Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College, FAMU is a major presence in the Tallahassee community. Those of us who live here want a thriving FAMU that can make significant contributions to our culture, our history and, of course, our workforce.

While students, faculty, administration and alumni have a stake in a thriving university, so too do those who live and work here. Among those with no direct ties to the university, I am not alone in recognizing FAMU’s importance to the Big Bend region.

Florida A&M is again in need of another president. In the past, they have filled that role through promotions from within or from a national search following the service of an interim president.

Based upon recent history, the university does not need a national search. Someone who can do the job is already in it.

On three occasions FAMU has turned to Dr. Larry Robinson to bridge the gap between a departed president and that person’s successor. His current stint as interim president began with the ouster of the university’s first female president, Dr. Elmira Mangum, on September 15.

His first appointment came in 2007, but his most significant tenure followed the resignation of Dr. James Ammons in 2012 in the aftermath of the Robert Champion hazing tragedy.

Robinson’s interaction with the Board of Governors, his bosses, earned him high marks.

“Thank you for being so open in your affiliation with us,” said then-Chancellor Frank T. Brogan. “That has not always been the case. I know Florida A&M is going through a tough stretch. The only way you can address problems is to admit you’ve got them.”

Norman Tripp, a member of the Board of Governors, described Robinson’s resume as “astounding” at the time. Despite this, Robinson declared he was not a candidate for the appointment as full-term president. Mangum was selected following a nationwide search.

Robinson is in a different position in 2017. Last month he appeared before the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board. When asked if he was interested in the permanent position, Robinson responded with a declarative “who wouldn’t be?” He further added that he would be “honored” to serve.

He has the support of the presidents of the capital city’s other educational institutions. At a recent Martin Luther King Jr. tribute, Florida State University President John Thrasher threw his support behind Robinson.

“Larry Robinson is doing a superb job at Florida A&M University,” Thrasher told the crowd. “FAMU students deserve his leadership.”

TCC President Jim Murdaugh directed his comments to Robinson at the same event.

“I hope you get that job,” he said. “You certainly have my support. You have earned that job.”

Not everyone took the endorsements, especially from Thrasher, as a good thing.

In a column published in the HBCU Digest, Jarrett Carter Sr. wrote that Thrasher and Murdaugh’s support is “nothing good” for FAMU. He cites Thrasher’s role in advocating the splitting of the joint FSU/FAMU engineering program.

To be clear, the engineering issue divided members of the Legislature as well as supporters of both schools. However, it is difficult to see how Thrasher’s and Murdaugh’s support is a bad thing.

They not only represent their institutions, but also share with FAMU a leading role in the vibrancy of the capital community. It is in that sense, to use a legal term, that both have “standing” to do what they did.

This is the primary reason why this writer hopes that Robinson is selected. That and the memory of an opportunity I had to speak with him.

At a session-eve reception shortly before Mangum took over, Robinson was a humble, soft-spoken, advocate for his university. It did not take long to ascertain this was not only a brilliant man, but one who possessed the ability to connect with people.

Robinson is on a one-year contract as interim president. However, like sports coaches, contracts are torn up and extended when one does a good job.

Why not do the same for someone who has done so much for the university? Why not bring it up at the next board of trustees meeting?

Trustees cannot orchestrate this among themselves outside of public view, but there must be a growing sense they have their man in their midst.

Who will make the motion to make it happen?

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