Dooley: Finally, time to put this embarrassment in the rearview

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Florida wide receiver Dre Massey (9) walks off the field with the team Saturday after the Gators lost to Florida State at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer]

It’s over.

Thank goodness, it’s over.

It ended with a whimper on a perfect Saturday, as FSU won the race of snails. The sad Seminoles made fewer awful plays than the gloomy Gators and kept their desperate bowl hopes alive.

Florida, on the other hand, found a way to give up 38 points on a day it allowed 216 yards. I didn’t think that was possible.

But anything is possible with this collection of willing but hamstrung Gators. Once again, their quarterback self-destructed and this one was a doozy. In the final game of the season, Feleipe Franks showed that he has not grown as a decision-maker even a little bit and that the next Florida coach doesn’t have much to work with at the quarterback position.

“It’s a talented team,” UF interim head coach Randy Shannon said several times in the aftermath/carnage of the game.

Maybe. But not at the most important position.

Franks could have dropped his gifts in a bag and thrown tissue paper on top, but instead he bought the expensive paper and sealed each corner with tape and then finished them off with those swirling ribbons you make with the edge of the scissors.

“It’s hard to win games like that,” said receiver Josh Hammond.

It’s almost impossible to give up four turnovers, one for a TD and one that should have been a TD if not for one of the dumbest moves in the history of college football, and win.

Instead, these seniors and departing juniors leave without ever beating FSU. And Saturday, Florida lost a battle of attrition. Both teams were messes. Florida found a way to be more of a mess.

“It doesn’t matter what I say,” Franks said of the turnovers. “You’ll find a way to twist it around.”

I don’t think that performance needed any twisting or spinning.

Instead, the best thing about 3:31 p.m. Saturday was that it was the end of something that needed to be put out of its misery like a diseased cow bellowing in pain.

If you left the stadium feeling like Tim Robbins’ character in “Shawshank Redemption” after he dug out of prison, I get it.

Free at last.

No more play-action passes on third-and-long. No more second-down runs after first-down incompletions every … single … time. No more aversion to trick plays. No more uninspired special teams (one would hope). No more, well, what’s the point of telling you 100 things you already know.

Free at last.

“You can’t go back in time,” Franks said.

I wish.

If you could, how far back would you go? Seven years? Three years? July 1?

But he’s right. You can’t go back. You can’t erase 4-7. You can’t unsee what you just saw. Franks said that one day he’ll look back and think, “I’m glad that happened to me.”

Anybody out there feel the same way?

Nope. The Gator Nation is embarrassed, frustrated and ready for some good news in a season of bad. What started with a major injury (Marcell Harris) and dissolved into the pit of misery (nine suspended players) and hurt like a double toothache (all of the injuries) ended with the smell of failure.

Saturday’s game was one more example of why Chip Kelly and all of his baggage were so tempting, why UF was willing to go so far outside the box and do something so un-Florida that not everybody in the building was on board.

Kelly was that big piece of brie sitting in the mouse trap that Florida struggled to resist. He chose to take a more comfortable route back into college football where the defenses are less ferocious and 9-3 gets people excited.

Still, it says something that there were as many people sighing in relief at the Kelly news as there were those sighing in despair.

Personally, I think they dodged a bullet and I’m not the only person who feels that way.

That may sound like sour Gator grapes, but Florida’s future will not be defined by who it didn’t get as by who becomes the next head Gator.

This game was supposed to be Florida’s version of a bowl game, but the truth is that Florida is in the middle of a huge bowl game right now. Finding a new coach IS Florida’s bowl game.

There are players here, just not enough.

There are tough, play-to-the-gun athletes here, just not enough.

The next guy is going to have a tall task ahead of him. Three things he is going to have to add to the mix — linebackers, wide receivers and quarterbacks.

Oh, and discipline. On and off the field.

It’s one thing to lose your place among the top football programs in the country. It’s another to be an embarrassment.

And at a place like Florida, the only thing more embarrassing than a four-win season is how this team got there.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

 

73 COMMENTS

  1. One of the best articles you’ve written in a while, Pat. Just don’t wait until the coach is fired to start spewing. Call a spade a spade. Be more like Kirk Bohls.

  2. Hope the UF embarrassment will stop today but it could last a while longer. This whole coaching charade/carousel could go on another week or so. I guess Frost is our next man up but who knows at this point. Maybe we’re looking at Zook but we won’t know until he signs the contract and is at the podium. In the end all the spin will tell you that the coach we hire is the coach we really wanted and was our first choice because that coach was the only coach that received an offer. Zook and Chump were are first choice because they got a contract offer. The only thing any UF fans have to hang their hat on is a California qb and his gang of commits. How long will they hang in there? It doesn’t look like we have a qb worth his scholarship right now. Qbs usually take time to recruit so if this California kid bolts our best case scenario is probably stealing a qb from a much lesser program. Who’s a lesser program in Florida right now? FSU, nope. Miami, nope. USF, nope. UCF, nope. FIU, nope. FAU, nope. FAMU, probably.

  3. Franks should go to every QBs coaching camp he can find during the offseason and learn that there is more than one option on every pass play, how to set up quickly and deliver the ball with timing, that you don’t ever take your eyes off from down the field, that you have to stay in the pocket and trust your OL most of the time, that you throw to where the receiver is going and not wait until he gets there, and throw the damn ball to wide open receivers, not wide open defensive backs. But I watch other really good QBs at other programs, and Franks simply does not currently possess the innate QB skills that those QBs play with on weekends during the fall months. And, currently, he is a horrible college QB who has been poorly developed and coached up to this point.

    • Rick… Its not easy for Franks when he’s beong coaches nor to audible, or check down. You can see it on the tapes of all his games this year. Wide open wr’s that he totally ignores and usually ends up forcing the ball at his first WR.

      He was being told to throw to a pre-determined wr or spot on the field. Its how fsu was able to read him so easily, as well as other defenses.

  4. Saturday’s game was one more example of why Chip Kelly and all of his baggage were so tempting, why UF was willing to go so far outside the box and do something so un-Florida that not everybody in the building was on board.

    While we’re taking chances how about taking one on the FAU coach??
    https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/coaches/lane-kiffin-1.html
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lane_Kiffin
    http://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/20522862/fau-coach-lane-kiffin-says-offensive-coordinator-title-game-alabama-crimson-tide-won

    If not then vet Brent Venables..same as Kirby Smart, would be the next Bob Stoops! imho
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brent_Venables

    • Lane Kiffin is a born loser, gator11. All skill and no character. Now Venables? There’s a stud. Reckon he’d consider the job if it was offered? Doubt that it would be, but just asking for opinions since I have a gut feeling we’re going to come up either short or empty this next go-round.

    • Kiffen, another emotionally irrational raver like McElwain, and Stoops, who isn’t coming our of retirement.

      I’d love Gundy but Foley already turned him down to hire McElwain.

      If not Frost, Mike Norvell at Memphis would be a very good coach. Mullen and Campbell would be good choicea after that.

    • Gundy is not leaving Ok St. But… Im definitely on the Lane Kiffin train. All of his shenanigans are deplorable ONLY because he’s not our coach. Here’s Lane Kiffin in a nutshell: a guy up on the highest horse thinking that everything was his and that he was God. Then he loses everything. Now, no matter what he does, nobody is willing to even glance his way. So he realizes that he’s not who he thought he was and prays and begs the real God to please give him another chance and he swears to God that if he gives him another chance, he will do everything right the next time. We’ve all had a situation where we’ve done that! I say…draw up a detailed contract restricting his social and public media content and give him a chance. There’s no denying…THE MAN CAN FLAT OUT COACH. He took a program full of 2* and just a few sprinkles of 3* players and turned them into a bowl team with a 9 win season IN HIS FIRST YEAR!!! He would be my first call after Scott Frost says no. He just needs a leash; a set of rules to govern his behavior and then let the man take us back to yesteryear when the Swamp was more dangerous and intimidating than a puddle on University Ave after it rains.

      • Timmy, Kiffin’s lack of character knows no bounds, no matter how many times he’s had to eat humble pie. He doesn’t see it that way, rather, it’s just more attention in a case where any attention–no matter how poor–is the goal. Perhaps he can coach, but at what cost?

  5. Franks is bad but it is not all his fault. First down , off tackle right, 2nd down off tackle left, 3rd and 7, pass. This does not help the QB. 5 star Ivey plays left tackle all year and the coaches figure out his is not a very good tackle, he is replaced by someone that is worse. Receivers drop balls or stop in the middle of their routes. Punt returns are a disaster. The coaching has been terrible, recruiting stinks, no special teams coach. I can go on and on.

  6. What is up with Franks? He triple clutches then takes a sack or he throws it into a pile of defenders and leaves everyone scratching their heads.

  7. Great article.
    The 2nd and 10 running plays have caused me much mental anguish. If Nuss finds a job next yr I’m playing the under against his team every week lol.

  8. Franks apparently needs coaching in much more than football. Can you imagine Tebow talking like that. No spinning needed he lost the game, all by his blunders. Now he might have had some help but he is the QB, he threw the ball.

  9. Pat: Your BEST work this season!!! Great job!

    Kelly chose the easy road, forget him. AD Strickland and staff now need to DISCERN which young coach will have the desire to go to the top of the mountain with UF. Still a top five job: fan base, facilities, centered in the recruiting capital of the world. Mr. Strickland, please please please made a wise selection and give him full authority to do his job!

    Did anybody watch the UCF QB last night…as we use to say in the 1970s “he has the cool”…poor Franks doesn’t PERIOD. Its not his fault. Your either born with the battlefield decision making skill or not.

    • Franks (or as i refer to him – tackling dummy #13) doesnt have a chance. Play calling and bad line play expose how much more coaching he needs. I don’t question Franks’ grit or toughness. That kid can play on my team any day. Just not at quaterback.

  10. Finally, the misery of 2017 Gator football is over!! Felipe is not the answer at qb, just the only available option at the moment and he has not gotten ANY better at ANY aspect of qbing a team. He doesnt have the grit as an athlete. Hopefully we get the right coach for Gator nation. On a better note what a basketball victory by the Gators

  11. You are one of the reasons that Florida football is where it is.. You don’t really care if we win.. You are apart of the Foley crew.. One of these days all of the Foley guard will be finally moved on and we will actually hire a coach that wants to win not matter his personality.

    Chip Kelly would have been a rock star in gville. I know you didn’t like him and would rather have champ back, but guess what as a booster and season ticker holder I want to see our program Win.

  12. Pat’s best article of the year. A week ago I was dying to get Chip Kelly. Now I agree with Dools, we dodged a bullet. Whoever our next HBC is, he needs to knock it out of the park with his S&C hire. Kent was a disaster. Personally hoping for Frost, Taggart or Kiffin. Yeah Kiffin.

  13. Sorry UF but I have no sympathy for you. My team Alabama lost to Auburn. We’re having to come too grips with playing in the Tampax Tampon Bowl on Dec 17 in Nuckfussle South Dakota

    • All that y’all really did wrong was thinking that your methodical way of playing was going to win against a pretty good, fired up team. Didn’t work this time, that’s all. Bama is pretty far from winding up in Nuckfussle for a bowl game.

    • Bama, 11-1 and feeling like a failure. Reminds me of the 2001 Gators, 10-2 but no SEC title, no SEC East title, nothing. Season felt like a loss. Spurrier quit. Said Gator fans weren’t happy with 10-2 anymore. Expectations too high then, now are obscene. College football seems out of whack.

  14. Let us know say as Gator Nation Goodbye to Jeremy Foley and the absolute crap he left behind. We will be paying for years for Foley’s mistakes.

    • L – you got that right. Dooley, Bianchi, Frangie, etc. will never write or speak about Foley’s mismanagement of the football program from 2002-2016.

  15. Just want some SEC EAST Team to challenge UGA! IF UF and UT can’t get something going to excite recruiting and players, just go ahead and reliquish all titles and contention for titles to Georgia !

  16. This article is 100% how I feel after this game.

    Part of me even hopes that Franks transfers after this season. Of course, if he does, he’ll probably become a great QB somewhere else like all of our other QBs that transfer…

    He had a terrible game. Leaders take ownership of that. They don’t get defensive vs. the press.

  17. Come on Pat, name your source. For someone that say’s so much but in reality so little, and one who never ventures out on a limb, how about a change of pace every so often. I think it was more about all the “Gator’s bad baggage”, than Chip Kelly’s baggage, and why we were not able to make a deal. What did they go to New Hampshire for, tea or to get the best coach on the board. Say what you want but it is clear you don’t like winning!

  18. We dodged a bullet not getting Kelly ? HAHAHAHAHA , good one ! Thanks for giving me a laugh.

    If we don’t get Frost we are totally F***d

    • If Stricklin doesn’t close the deal with Frost, President Fuchs is going to find a lame excuse to fire him for cause without any buyout money. What goes around comes around. That’s what he gets for publicly embarrassing the President by dragging him all the way to NH without a deal in place. What’s more, no coach in their right mind will want to work for a boss who fires him after 2-1/2 years after winning the SEC East twice, voted as SEC Coach of Year, on track to sign a top 5 recruiting class coming in with the #1 class in 2019 waiting in the wings. Only an idiot AD decides to blow everything up and trade down. He’s like that dog in a classic fable with a bone in his mouth looking at his reflection in the water.

      • Clueless. A deal was in place and agreed to. We offered more money and Saban-like control. At the end of the day Kelly just didn’t want to be here. Stricklin can offer a candidate the world but he can’t say ‘yes’ for him.

    • Frost to Nebraska? That’s news to the rest of the free world. And even if he does go how is that Stricklin’s fault? I’d love to hear the logic on that one. Because Frost would be going home to where he was raised and to his Alma Mater?

    • Gus Malzahn? I heard that he is an Arkansas grad. I also heard that there is a vacancy there. I’d just let those things happen if they do.

  19. I’ve never seen such a sorry performance by a QB, at FL, or anywhere! Guess he is still saying, “Oh, we got a lot to Play Fur, we dis got to x,ur, cute…………………………………..My God, What A JOKE!!!!!

  20. But no one thought of putting the “embarrassment” behind us after the debacle against Michigan?

    That embarrassment being Nussmeier, and say what you will, but Nuss is as much responsible for this clusterf**k of a season as Mac was.

    I said it weeks ago… Shannon needed to replace Nuss at OC or we’d never beat fsu, and we never had a chance goinf into the game with that clueless idiot running the offense.

    That said, maybe the real embarrassment was dressing up as the 1980s Miami Hurricanes for this game?

    • Amen Todd! When I tuned in and saw the team from the long shots it looked like the Miami Hurricanes. Please stick to the orange helmets w/script Gator. It’s from the best period of our football history and we as fans certainly need that at this time. When you saw that helmet you knew who was playing.

  21. Growing up in Knoxville in the 70’s, I saw some pretty bad teams, but this 2017 team might be the worst in school history. The final summary of Butch Jones’ tenure at UT should read something like this: “Never has a coach done so little with so much.” I don’t know of any program that signed as many 4 and 5 star recruits and turned out such a miserable product on the field. Florida’s awful performance today was clearly outdone by Tennessee’s even more pitiful performance. Vandy gashed us all game and we couldn’t come close to stopping them. Florida just self-destructed on offense. I think that both the Vols and Gators might have to start true freshmen at QB and endure the growing pains, because I can’t imagine either fan base having to endure another season of Guarantano and Franks as starters. Who would have thought that both programs would reach a point where they would even entertain the idea of hiring Lane Kiffin or Mike Leach. At least basketball season is here! Looks like the Gators are going to have a great BB team and hopefully my Vols can have a solid season.

    • I feel ya’, Mark. Sad to see two premier SEC programs sink like this, almost as if we’re tied together at the hip. I sure miss the days of the legendary Phil Fulmer and any Gator coach but these last two! Man, those were the days.

  22. Best article Pat. I was willing to support Kelly but I couldn’t figure out why I was uncomfortable about it. I finally figured out what it was. It was beginning to feel like it was going to be another Charlie Weis hire. When Kelly chose UCLA, I realized that my stomach stopped churning. My original preference was Frost so he is still a possibility and I feel better about whoever the eventual choice is. But, please, not Strong or Mullen. Their coaching style was/is bland and predictable and there was grumbling about them when they were at UF. Shannon was a good soldier and he deserves credit for that (and that is all) but we need a clean sweep of all coaches and a total brand new start.

  23. Chip Kelly picked UCLA and I say good riddance! I lived in the LA area 10 years before moving to Portland, Oregon and that the best decision I have made in my life!. The traffic in LA is a nightmare, they have serious water shortages and crime is awful! I would pick Gainesville over L.A. any day! Go Gators!

    • Serious water shortages? Only if you’re a plant, as mandatory restrictions during drought are aimed at your lawn. Been here twenty-two years and have never gone to bed thirsty as you implied.

      As for crime, it depends on in what part of town you live. The last I knew there are parts of Gainesville in which you wouldn’t want to be caught after dark. It’s all just a matter of scale

      I take no issue with your traffic comment. It can inspire dark thoughts. 😀

      I am sure Kelly will probably live in Brentwood or maybe Bel Air, so traffic and crime will not be as high on the list of things to worry about as beating USC.

      • The water quality iN LA is the worst! You certainly cannot drink tap water and LAs crime is way worse than Gainesville’s. But I would agree that when you are a millionaire probably these are non issues. Regardless living in a huge City like LA is way overrated and traffic is such a nightmare that I literally used to have nightmares about it when I lived there! Go Gators! Hire Mullen!

  24. Remember those days of exotic blitzing instead of a vanilla defense. You only ask so much from a 4 man rush every single play. This whole entire staff needs to go. The predictability on both sides of ball was a joke. Please Matt Coral stay a gator!!!!

  25. The Shawshank reference is good Dooley, but only when you realize he did not tunnel out.

    “He crawled to freedom through five hundred yards of s**t smelling foulness I can’t even imagine, or maybe I just don’t want to. Five hundred yards… that’s the length of five football fields, just shy of half a mile.”

    Now if that is not an apt metaphor for this season I don’t know what is.

    And curiously about the aggregate total offense for the season. Okay, okay, that was a little low, well, a lot low.

    Gallows humor I guess.

  26. Look at it this way: CA’s top bracket pays 13.30% in state income tax. Based soley on what the gutty lil bruins are paying CK, he is paying almost $620k per year to avoid coaching UF. That stings…

    Or it should anyway.

    • Albert, if today’s reports are true, it isn’t as big a slap in the face as c Frost, who reportedly just simply said, “No”. And if the reports today are true that Mullin is next….and if he just says, “No” too, I’m beginning to think that Florida isn’t really the choice coaching destination we’ve led ourselves to believe. Of course, who knows if anything in the media is true or not, they’re credibility isn’t that stellar anymore, anyway. Just wonderin’ what the hell’s going on, though……

  27. Best quote of the day, from Felipe Franks: “No matter what I tell you guys, it’s going to be twisted around and things like that. A turnover is a turnover. It happens in the game. Tom Brady throws three interceptions, anybody does it.”

  28. Fire Stricklin—get an AD with some motivation. This guy wants to set on his butt and let us lose all of our recruits. In addition, he has no concern of the coaches that remain in limbo—they don’t know whether to seek othervemployment or not—certainly the OC does need to move on. Come on Gator Boosters of importance (money people) get Striclin motivated.

  29. I understand the frustration that anyone who routes for the Gators is feeling. But some of the comments on here are absolutely comical. Seems the consensus is to “Fire Stricklin!” The guy is in the middle of a coaching search and nobody on this board has a clue about what’s going on behind the scenes despite the fact that a lot you think you do. So Chip Kelly goes to UCLA and it’s Stricklin’s fault. Kelly went to UCLA for obvious reasons and if they have to be spelled out to you then I’m sorry. Frost hasn’t made a decision yet. And if he does take the Nebraska job it’s for obvious reasons as well. And if you wonder why someone would question taking the job at Florida than you need to go look in the mirror and reread a lot of these posts. Some of you will never be happy regardless of who gets hired. Go take a Xanax and let this thing play out. Good grief! The sky is not falling!

  30. We are fine at QB. The brain trust on the offensive side of the ball never realized we had a Lamar Jackson type in Toney. Hopefully, the new coach will recognize his extraordinary talent. Please don’t let this be another Brisset mistake. Also, remember when we were all doing backflips when Jake Allen committed? He is still on the roster.

  31. I do not see our AD waiting another week to either wait for a Frost decision or announce the new HBC so Frost can coach a meaningless Conf. Championship w/o distracting UCF players. We need to make a hire ASAP and salvage what is left of this class. Therefore I see Frost heading to Nebraska who have nothing to lose in waiting.

    That leaves Norvell, Mullen, or Strong, in that order.

    Also, please stop saying the Gator fan-base makes UF a top job. Same know it all fan base who degrades our players, demands coach/admin terminations at the drop of a hat, and incessant complaining are just unproductive and annoying!

  32. Being reported that Mullen has been offered the UF job and must decide today. Per Sports Illustrated reporting and others. Grain of salt?

  33. Franks needs a lot of coaching. Couple observations: Don’t try to out run defenders from a starting position when defenders are already running at top-end speed; they will run you over. Secondly, don’t roll out to the outter edges of the pocket where OL is driving off defenders. They’re surely going to sack you. Step up in the pocket and move around in the pocket.

    Pat! For me, 2017 was disappointing but out of respect to our players not so much embarrassing. Go Gators!

  34. Some of you people leave me shaking my head in your disdain for Jeremy Foley. Sure, he made two bad hires. What about all the GREAT hires he made at all sports. Was Meyer a mistake. What about replacing a legend in BB. Pretty good job, don’t you think. Yes, I realize football is on the biggest stage, followed just a hair by basketball…BEAT DUKE…but do you know or even care about the overall excellence of our sports program. Do you know or even care that no other school but Florida has won the overall, men’s and women’s titles in a single year and that they have done it SIXTEEN TIMES!! Do you know or even care that the Gators have won the overall SEC sports trophy 27 out of the last 30 years. You people that bash Jeremy Foley are football only fools. Nobody loves Gator football more than me, as much, yes, but not more. But I bleed Orange and Blue for every Gator team. Not one other SEC program comes remotely close to the University of Florida and I couldn’t be more proud. Thank you, Jeremy Foley. GO GATORS!!

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