Stability needed to rebuild UF’s program

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Dan Mullen gets to try his hand in leading the UF program as head coach. [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer]

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m not reading this right. But it feels like the college football world has moved on from the Florida Gators.

They were not even a flavor of the month before being cast aside like an empty fast food bag on the side of the road.

Florida’s relevancy on the national stage was based on a new coach with a strong track record and players saying all the right things.

Now, one loss later, we’ll get back to you.

It’s understandable. There were a lot of pundits waiting to see the new and improved Gators under Dan Mullen. Instead, in the first big game of the year, they saw more of the same.

Just like that, Florida has become yesterday’s news, a middle of the SEC East team just hoping to become bowl eligible.

In college football, the remoras latch on to the fastest moving shark. How about that Herm Edwards? Ya gotta love what Stanford did to USC. Doesn’t everyone feel great for a Kansas team that broke a 46-game road losing streak?

Such is life in the fast lane of instant gratification.

The Gator Nation is back grumbling again, trying to figure out how they got here, to this point where it’s difficult again to look at the schedule and find sure things. The noise you hear is the sound of squeaky-wheeled emails to my in-box.

The blame falls to everyone from the quarterback (always) to the previous coaches to bad breaks to recruiting. I’ve even heard that the tradition of singing “I Won’t Back Down” at the end of the third quarter needs to stop because Florida’s only two wins (against four losses) were against UAB and Charleston Southern since it began.

Saturday was just one loss, but it felt like more.

The sad truth is that Florida in its last 16 games is 6-10. How did this happen?

How did Georgia blow past Florida like it was Usain Bolt? How did Kentucky become more physical (and have a better record since the start of the 2016 season) than the mighty Gators? (The answer to this is giving a coach who started 12-24 time to build a program and giving him top-notch facilities).

How has a Florida program that won 13 games three different times in a season from 2006 to 2009 become a program that has lost 42 games since then?

More than anything, I think it comes down to a lack of stability. Florida has had four different head coaches during that stretch and it starts with the first one.

The beginning of the slide came when UF convinced Urban Meyer to come back after he quit. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but Meyer was not the same coach in 2010. It was as if Florida made a coaching change by not making one.

Then, four years of Will Muschamp (who had to scream the entitlement out of the program) and three of Jim McElwain (who inherited one mess and left behind a different one) and two games of Dan Mullen. Recruiting has suffered because of that instability at the top. It’s not because of a lack of effort but because of a lack of attention span.

The kids being recruited today started paying attention to college football when they were 10 or 11 years old. What have they seen in Gainesville?

An erratic program with inferior offense. Hardly sexy.

We all knew Mullen was going to have to rebuild a once-proud program, but everybody wants the house to go up today. Mullen has a fixer-upper.

“Change takes time. Change is uncomfortable for people,” Mullen said Monday. “I think they’re trying to still figure a lot of things out. We have a lot of young players, young players have to figure a lot of things out. A lot of them have never been in these situations.”

Well, actually, a lot of them have been in the situation of trying to recover from a numbing loss. It’s become too much of a way of life.

They are the ones who have to change sooner rather than later because it’s not going to wait for them to figure things out. College football seasons fly by too fast to dawdle and wallow in misery.

There is no patience at this level. The coaches struggle with it and the fan bases are loathe to accept it.

It’s easy to accept your fate. It’s difficult to reject it and make your own paths.

It’s time. Time to become who you can be instead of who you think you are. It can start Saturday against a Colorado State team with one more SEC win than Florida so far this year. We just saw a Kentucky football team come to Gainesville with a reputation for taking baby steps suddenly take a triple jump leap in one night.

It can happen. Wanting it to happen is different from making it happen.

Or you can just hope you win enough games to get some bowl swag.

Your choice, guys.

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

91 COMMENTS

  1. OK…once again you framed our situation well Pat! We have what we have,LOL. Time is the great healer, most of the time, unless something is not meant to be. We failed the first one-two punch. Boxing again…in early 1970s Erie Shavers had just knocked out his last three opponents in the first round….like other “top ranked guys” had tried, the “next step up plan” was for him to move up through Jerry Quarry. When asked about Shavers recent knock outs and Erie coming after him in the first round, I’m paraphrasing, Quarry replied “the fight is not going to last long”…First round, Shavers immediately attacked, Jerry hit Shavers in the face with a right and the fight was over! UF was hit in the face after knocking out little CSU. BUT NOW, we have a second chance. The ONLY QUESTION THAT COUNTS, is will Dan’s new orphan team:

    (1) Recovery against CSU with a solid game and then
    (2) Beat UT at Hill Billyville and become heroes!

    Do this, Dan’s a hero and all this mess turns around until LSU

    • That’s the second time in the last couple of weeks the old “Acorn” has come up! (Earnie Shavers). Hardest punching heavyweight in modern boxing, but not a boxer in the technical sense. Great analogy tho!

      (I’ll wait for TampaGator to double check, he’ll get back to you if it’s a simile or something and not an analogy) 😀

      • Our weakness has made he return to the past real boxers. I’ve youtube all the fights worth watching. Quarry knocked Shavers out when he still had hair. Quarry was a heck of a boxer, but he appeared ordinary against Ali (most did). He beat 4-5 “number one contenders” on their way up. It was best he knocked you out or you would get a beating you would never forget, like Ron Lyle. Gators have got to find some toughness and stop letting the other guys kick their butts. I believe its that simple. If I was Dan, that’s exactly what I would tell them.

      • Gator 6. You need to stop using my moniker in an underhanded negative way in your posts if you are not addressing me personally and directly. I believe Arnold addressed that issue previously. I do not try to undermine you while posting to others on here. I would appreciate it if you would be equally respectful. Thank you.

        • Well my goodness gracious! It was a joke for the love of Pete, lighten up, it was just a playful tease regarding a conversation from a couple of weeks back, there were no “teeth” on it whatsoever. I don’t recall hearing from Arnold on that particular topic, or any other for that matter, but if you want to, then go ahead and whine to him that somebody is being mean to you. Or, you could develop a sense of humor; not everything is an insult (although you apparently are on the lookout for one behind every corner).

          Tell you what….if you’re that touchy, you stay in your corner and I’ll stay in mine. I’m not going to get dragged into yet another pissing contest with you; your self importance is enough for all of us combined, your rather excellent football savvy notwithstanding. Looks like Daz had it right after all. OUT HERE.

  2. Great article that draws a big circle around but never names the incompetent boob who destroyed this program by neglecting facilities and hiring one terrible coach after another: Jeremy Foley.

    Thanks for destroying UF football. Please go away.

    • Jaws, I enjoy your commentary all the time, blending wit and good analysis as you do — but you and a few others need to get off this retro-glide path muy pronto, and refocus to the hear and now as well as the future. It’s been said, it’s been analyzed, it’s been debated both fairly and unfairly — Myer was a fraud, Muschamp was one sided, Mac was a fool, and worse of all, Jeremy Foley was a turd. Enough already! What good is it going to do to repeat the same old refrain over, and over, over and……? Let’s recognize the mess, let’s just get behind the coach like you and so many others have, and just fix it!

      Hope you don’t take offense, as I said I really enjoy your posts…..you just happened to be the one who crossed my position this morning. Believe me, it’s not just you.

      • No offense. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I just felt the article was conspicuous in who it left out of the whole history of how we went from an elite national program to an irrelevant regional has-been with sub-standard facilities and a series of coaches who were not even mediocre but terrible– and in some cases, pretty weird on top of it all.

        It’s happened elsewhere. Southern Cal was a nothing for a long time before Pete Carol came along. Bama had a lot of lean years (other than Stallings’ run) Michigan has been second fiddle (or third or fourth) for years after being a perennial contender to win the Big 10. Texas hasn’t been able to get it together for years.

        I do believe Mullen is the right man to rebuild the program, and I am feeling very patient at this point. It will take years, and I am going to just sit back and enjoy the process of rebuilding and try to keep my expectations in check.

        Will I ever be able to totally stop joking about McElwain’s freakish yellow teeth and weird obsession with shark erotica? Probably– but not yet!

    • Please explain how UGA could hire a Saban assistant and look like a genius, yet UF hired one first that was thought by almost every expert as the next great coach in the making. Then follow that with another former Saban assistant that had already proven himself as a head coach, only to flop at UF. Foley missed on 3 football hires out 4, but was extremely successful across all sports. Tell us another school that hasn’t had bad hires in football. I’ll hang up and listen for your answer.

      • This UGA comparison is getting a little tired too. There’s obviously no comparison at all. UGA was far from a broken program when Smart took over. They were coming off back to back 10 win seasons and had a ton of talent on both sides of the ball as evidenced by what happened last season. Smart already had great relationships with all the top talent in America after being Bama’s top recruiter for 9 years. Not hard to convince those top players to follow him to another successful blue blood SEC program. He couldn’t have stepped into a more ready to succeed job than he did. The only other comparison would be taking over Clemson or Bama. UF was a broken program when Muschamp took over. Meyer even admitted it when he left. Muschamp still had about as much success as Smart had in his second season and was bringing in top 5 classes just like Smart is, his only problem was he didn’t know how to maintain it. He was too focused on defense and neglected the offense and left that side of the ball severely depleted. He was clearly not as ready to run a program as Smart seems to be. That led into the disaster hire we all know too well and what he did to the program, which is where we are now, at it’s lowest point it’s ever been in decades. The better question to ask is, do you really believe Smart would be having the same instant success he is, if he had taken over a severely broken UF program? I highly doubt it.

      • Because Smart is as close to Saban-like as any coach around. So in some sense, UGA caught a break and not only hired one of its own, but also one who is truly a Saban Clone.

        Coach McElwain, unfortunately, while he coached under Saban, turned out to be nothing like the mentor. Maybe he wasn’t vetted well enough, maybe someone didn’t tell the truth about him, or who knows what. Bottom line, it was the wrong choice for the Gators.

        We’ll never know, but I’m not sure if Mac had been dealt a loaded roster like Kirby that he’d done great things with it. He’s not Saban. He and Nussmeier didn’t exhibit offensive genius like Lane Kiffin. Mac’s organizational skills look very suspect. In short, UGA picked the right Bama assistant, and UF didn’t.

        I guess in answer to your question…..sometimes that’s just the way it goes.

      • Big deal that we dominate in womens badminton, coed lawn bowling, and ultimate frisbee. Those sports that we dominate across the board make the overall program look good, but face it, football is king and what the majority are most passionate about. I’m not discounting the athletes of the lesser sports and their parents, great for them, but again, does the average fan care? No. Foley would have rather gotten an all sports trophy rather than a football, baseball or basketball championship. I’m glad that he’s gone. Now strip him of his emeritus title.

      • Sparky, I concur with your assessment of the UF failed efforts in picking 2 coaches from Saban’s Tree of Life. How do we keep missing while others (some, not all) have succeeded? Jaws, I also concur that Foley had two great failings; hiring football head coaches and allowing UF to fall so far behind in the facilities race, especially with UF ranked by all involved as a top 10 Revenue earning sports program! Not Acceptable.
        But before we burn Foley in effigy, let’s consider these things that transpired under his watch:

        1.UF is only School to have won the Capitol1 Cup in both men’s and women’s sports.
        2. UF is the ONLY school to win both the Men’s basketball title and the Football championship in the same year. And they nearly did it again!
        3. UF is one only 4 schools that have won National Championships in Football, Men’s basket ball and Baseball.
        How many other AD’s at Power five or any other level can claim to the same? And this does not even include all the other Nat. Championships in softball, gymnastics (yea, I know; GIRLS), swimming/diving, track and field, soccer (oops, girls again).
        Foley had his flaws, and it was time for him to step away with our thanks. Let’s simply acknowledge the failures in the football coaching and facility areas and move on. Like Mullen, I think Stricklin is the right guy for the job at this time and go forward with that. Go Gators’

    • Jeremy Foley made his rep hiring Billy Donovan. If you recall, that was a Hail Mary hire. But, hey, it’s ONLY basketball. Football was kicking ass. So who cared? But JF hit on that one. And, unfortunately, that informed him he was some kind of coach-finding-guru. So we were treated to Kozo the Clown (panic hire), Will Muschump (ego hire) and Jim McElfail (another panic hire). These were longshots that didn’t hit (unless hitting the ground with a thud counts). Bernie Machen was the guy who brought us Urb. Now, to toss JF a bone, he does get credit for Becky Burleigh, Kevin O’Sullivan and Tim Walton. Those are all GREAT coaches. But Football is Football. And NOTHING ELSE is Football.

      • Foley may have missed on a few football coaching hires, but he is by far one of the greatest athletic directors of all time. It’s funny how fans are so focused on football as the end all be all of an athletic directors legacy. He didn’t just make his rep hiring Donovan. Besides the coaches you named, he hired Mike Holloway, Roland Thornqvist, Rhonda Faehn, and Amanda O’Leary. All those coaching hires have combined to win over 20 national titles. UF is consistently rated as one of the top athletic programs in the country and that’s a result of his work. Yeah football is king, but an athletic director is responsible for the entire program and he was more successful than pretty much everyone at that.

        • The other sports are successful because of the money football brings in, or used to bring in. Look at the empty seats in the stadium. Other programs will follow footballs downward spiral if they no longer have the money from alumni. Sure, money will still come from the TV contract, but mark my words, as football goes, so goes the other sports.

        • Other than basketball no other program makes a profit. Football directly or indirectly financially supports all the other sports. It’s great that the badminton team won the National championship but that doesn’t sell T-shirts. Except for Indiana and Kentucky Football is and should be the priority hire. If the athletic director fails at that (Foley) he has failed his program. Period!

          • Jm. Not! Glad your not in charge! Way to disrespect the other sports like they are as unimportant as badminton. A true Gator fan is a fan of all Gator sports! Foley hired O’Sullivan and White too! Your not going to make a grand slam hire every time – it’s not realistic. After Bear Bryant except for Gene Stallings, Alabama had many head coaches that weren’t greatly successful. Obviously football is huge but overall Foley has been one of the best athletic directors ever!

    • Steve W – There is nothing new about Dawg Scum beating the Gators on National Signing Day. Steve Spurrier even used that nugget to gig them about it because he OWNED them in spite of “inferior talent”. Player development, game prep and game day strategy/management matters just as much as recruiting. When the Gators were excelling at that aspect (and getting their share of good players), it didn’t matter. But since the Gators have been wandering in the desert for a while, the part where Dawg Scum is stocking the shelves and we’re not hurts more. Are they cheating? Who knows. I’ll buy that everybody cheats. But no doubt Dawg Scum has done a significantly better job of recruiting the qb & rb positions than the Gators. That needs to change.

    • I guess we will find out just how good KY is as the season unfolds as they barely beat Central Mich. who lost to Kansas by a lot more than KY beat them by and Kansas lost to Nicholls State. So, I’m afraid this might mean how bad we really are versus KY is turning it around. We’ll see.

      • I keep reminding myself that it’s still early in the season, Frank….so who knows what it will look like in a couple of months? I didn’t see anything in our loss to Kentucky that told me they were a top tier SEC team all of a sudden, but you’re right…..it sure would be better for us if they were. I think we’ll find out that they really are the same old Kentucky in the end, tho, and I’d certainly rather that we recognize and come to grips with it right now! We can blame past coaches, we can blame past ADs, we can probably find a way to blame George Bush if we try hard enough…..but I’m pretty sure we can’t blame Kentucky for this loss.

  3. Best article I’ve seen yet from Mr. D ! I think Coach Mullen will take this team to great places if the fans, admin allow it!! He is the best choice by far.
    That said if we had allowed Muschamp to work thru the kinks we probably would be in a really good place by now. I’ll take Mullen over Muschamp any day but you cannot ignore the fact that changing directions for an 18 year old kid who has the attention span of a knat every year doesn’t affect his concentration and performance! Go Gators get mean!!

  4. How can anybody be surprised that the (formerly) Mighty Gators are viewed as a middle-of-the-road SEC team? That’s exactly what they are right now. Gator Nation doesn’t have to like or accept that as the norm. But don’t get all spit-takey about it. We finally have (I believe) the right coach who can right the ship and build the program. Coach Mullen has Gator Greatness in his DNA and on his resume. Nobody has to explain to him what that looks, sounds, feels like. And nobody has to explain how much work it takes. I believe in Dan Mullen. I will have patience.

    Pat gets it right that our instant gratification/microwave culture demands Minute Rice results. But UF, more than anywhere suffers from an impossible standard – a bar too high to get over. And that bar was set in 1990 by Steve Spurrier. SS inherited underrated offensive talent (Shane who?) and dominant, ferocious defensive talent. He almost instantaneously changed Gator culture from hang-dog, sour-lucky losers into The Mighty Gators! The SEC (and most of college football) was caught flat-footed when the HBC unleashed his ball plays and bravado on the world. That sort of lightening-in-a-bottle is once in a lifetime. And we got to enjoy that! But it’s unrealistic to expect ANYONE to recreate that instant success.

    As for recruiting, go back and look where SS was getting good players. Belle Glades and Pahokee show up every year. Kozo the Clown (Ron Zook) somehow, someway, poisoned the well/ruined UF’s relationships there and FSU has reaped the benefits ever since. Coach Mullen needs to heal those wounds and recruit that area hard again. Go Gators!

  5. Recruiting the wrong kind of kid has crippled our beloved Gators. The 5 star kids who we saw during the national championship game last year want nothing to do with guns, pot, credit card fraud, domestic violence etc. Coach Mullen should implement a zero tolerance policy now with no exceptions. Prove to the future recruits that we are serious about doing things the right way and this team will no longer be held back by poor decisions. In the future Coach Mullen take out the trash and go after kids that want and can play at a high level, get a degree and can move on to the big stage on Sunday. And tell the current players to quit talking about what they need to do and do it. Talk is cheap, be accountable Gators. Hopefully this Saturday the players who want to do it right will stand up and fight for Florida. Those who don’t send them packing.

    • David, yours is the best post here. We have had a bunch of thugs in training disrupt the program for the other good young men, and the namby-pamby of university rules gave too much cover, and too many choices. Look at how many on here tried to excuse away premeditated robbery (that’s what the credit card 11 did last year) by limp-wristed “well, they’re young, well boys make mistakes, can’t destroy their lives over it”), and too many were happy to have these crooks back.

      We all howled over Jameis “King Crab” Winston, but too many fans have been willing to cut slack to our guys hen they do things just as bad.

      The entitlement mentality was on great display w/ Adarius Lemons, and I’m glad the ingrate is gone. WE need more of that, and if we end up with some lousy seasons, full of good young men, we will (finally) have a foundation to build on. It will take too long, because garbage actions were allowed to slide way too long.

  6. My frustration is that in the preseason we were led to believe from the players and coaches that, because of the new coaching, there was no reason this team could not compete for a championship. Amazing improvements on offense, DBU and defensive line freaks on defense. It is clear that was a dream or a lie. The players and coaches should have said “we are in a long process of rebuilding, lower your expectations, enjoy the process and support the Gators.”

    • Can someone point me in the direction of all the articles over the summer where the coaches are pumping up the team and acting like they could win championships, cause I must’ve missed them. Everything I read was the coaches talking about how much work was needed to get to a championship level and that the players were working hard but still had a long way to go. I read a lot of articles where Mullen specifically said the QB development was going to take some time and most QB’s aren’t fully developed for at least 3 years in the system. Yeah he’s said a few times that he’d love for the team to be competing for championships, because that’s the goal for every team, but he’s actually been pretty straight forward and honest about the development all along. Definitely more so than the previous regime. The hype about championships was coming more from the fans than the coaches.

  7. To become the elite football team once again that we should be, we need to:
    1. Recruit players that want to go to the next level or have strong competitive DNA that love to win.
    2. Condition them for top performance in the SEC. (Bigger, stronger, faster, smarter.)
    3. Train them to be expert at their position(s).
    I submit that we fell short on all three of the above over the last few years with the OL and to a lesser degree with the DL.
    Kirby Smart turned the ship around in 1 year. That may be asking too much here, but with Mullen, two years should do it.

    • I think you just listed everything he accomplished in recruiting at MSU. The big difference being, he should be able to convince better talent to come to UF. Unfortunately that’s going to take time, which seems unacceptable by too many Gator fans. By the way, Smart didn’t turn any ship around in 1 year. That ship didn’t need to be turned around. It was already moving full force ahead and just needed an oil change and little more horsepower added to pass up a few other ships.

  8. The major differences of Dan Mullen in contrast with Zook, Muschamp, McElwain and even Meyer start with his extensive experience as a program builder. Mullen has a well developed process in place for every aspect of heading a major Power 5 program: strength and conditioning, coaching and delegation, selling the program to long discouraged fans, fund-raising. His ability to close out recruiting with a bang was apparent last December and February.

    This is not a rebuilding process at Florida. It’s much more significant, reaching deep into the broken foundation of our program. Mullen’s task is more of a full construction project, clearing out the debris of eight years of weak leadership. He needs our encouraging support as well as a good measure of patience.

    In the short run Mullen can’t just cast aside the players inherited from his predecessor, every one of them guys who came to Florida with good intentions to become champions. When John Hevesy defended this week the decision to stay with the same starting five guys up front the veteran line coach was as much as saying, “Look, we have no other option but to get everything out of these young men because they’re still our best.” Our O-line might not be what we would all prefer but it’s the best that we’ve got.

    The same goes at QB, linebacker and safety. Meantime, a lot of growth will become apparent as the season unfolds in our true sophomores on our defensive line and as Trey Dean and possibly Brian Edwards grow up at cornerback.

    I agree that repeated post mittens on Jeremy Foley’s mistakes in hiring new coaches who were ill-equipped for the enormity and great opportunity at Florida has been dissected ad nauseum. At this point it’s become a distraction that keeps us from focusing on the far better days not too far ahead with Dan Mullen leading the way.

    As for this season, our fans have taken on a bipolar character, the mood swinging from high to low from game to game, from this tidbit of recruiting gossip to that, and so on. The outcome of this team is likely somewhere between the euphoria that lots of us, including me, embraced and the gloom that presently encompasses Gator Nation. My best sense is that we’ll suffer some disappointing losses but will capture some encouraging wins including maybe a big upset over some high flying foe. I’m sticking with these Florida Gators through thick and thin. Go Gators!

  9. I’m home today on a mandatory liquid diet for the “scope view” tomorrow morning, so its easy for me to think of crap, LOL…Like all of you guys above, in my frustration, I’ve also rolled around in the past too much. As Pat states and I first mentioned above, its time to move on to this Saturday with the guys we have. We have no choice but to MOVE ON. Dan knows all the above. Refocus to the simple task and question of the present:
    (1) Can this bunch recompute and have a nice solid performance and victory over another CSU? Then beat the bigger boys next week:
    (2) Beat CSU then the Hillbillys and we all feel much better with some hope generated.

    Then LSU

    • Ugh. So much as pertains to your rather “delicate” procedure tomorrow, I suggest (a) a butt load of IV benzodiazapines and, (b) a similar butt load (no pun intended) of Demerol……between those, you won’t care if they cut you in half c a chain saw, your wife can drive you home to a blissful sleep, and all will be well. No charge!

      So much as pertains to your refocus to the task at hand, that is 100% spot on. One game at a time from now on. That is the only way ahead, and by all means, this team does not need to get ahead of itself at all. No wondering what bowl we may go to, if any, no thinking about LSU or Georgia or anybody or anything else….just the game in front of us. Prepare like it was our last game, play with relentless effort even if it’s too hard, win it or at least be very competitive, and move on. We may stink right now — good! Get better each game and we can still pull it out for the season. I believe it.

      • No worry, I’m full of instructions and will be in line at 6 Dang AM tomorrow, after drinking the yuck tonight and yes to the drugs, I had one 10 years ago, hopefully routine…trying to think ahead to my two day golf tournament this weekend. BUT will get home in time for the game. Hopefully, we will be progressing. PS: Its safe to watch all the sports talk shows, since NO BODY even knows we’re still around. UCF is getting all the State of Florida football love.

        • Yeah, that’s all we’re hearing out here in Texas, too…..not even much about FSU, but I’m sure that love affair is far from over in the long run.

          I use mag citrite to clean my gutters with, so I can guarantee it! All kidding aside, tho….best wishes and I’m sure things will be just fine. You’re a Gator, after all!

  10. Okay…it’s just one loss…
    But that’s like saying if the waters get rough when sailing on the Titanic, at least we can fly home on the Hindenburg…
    Bottom line…Mullen is another McElwain and although Franks has heart, he’s out of his league and we’re plain awful…

  11. Gosh, these answers are so easy. 1) the football program at Florida has been ignored by the administration since 2005. You have to keep up with facilities, in order to keep up with recruiting, in order to keep up with coaches who want to come and be successful at your institution. THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR FLORIDA BEING THE LAST SEC SCHOOL TO HAVE AN INDOOR FOOTBALL PRACTICE FACILITY. NONE!!! There is also no excuse for Florida not having a stand alone football facility built back in 2015 when we finally caught up to having that practice facility built! But, again, you have to have an organization and and administration who is dedicated to the success of the football program. Alabama is. Florida is not. It requires money, time, and effort to produce a quality football program on the field. You certainly do not follow up Steve Spurrier with Ron Zook and expect championships. Urban Meyer brought time, effort, recruiting, and championships, but when he saw what Alabama had done in 2006 and the commitment they had made to a football program that destroyed his best efforts in 2009, well, writing on the wall. If you truly want a successful football program at UF, the time is now to demand that Stricklin start putting the efforts towards that end, rather than building softball and baseball stadiums. Football is the program that is the life blood of the athletic program at UF. You can’t undo the absolute disgusting display of neglect that Jeremy Foley did to the football program; but you can stop everything now, and focus on how you’re going to re-build and then keep maintenance on the football program. House cleaning starts at the top, and works its way down.
    Elite coaches do not grow on trees. Neither do elite programs. They must be built by elite personnel who have pride and dedication to what they are building. If you are an everything school, you win all sports trophies. If you are a football school, you win championships. Are you more proud of gymnastics, baseball, or are you waiting for those SEC football championships to come back?

    • Grump – or you can seek to have it ALL. I am proud that UF is successful in ALL areas. Lots of renowned colleges, a research university, Shands, top tier academics, top tier sports program from the top down. Sadly for most of us, football has taken a back seat to everything else. And yes, I agree that football is the engine that most of us want to drive the train.

      It appears to me that AD Strictlin and Coach Mullen get this. So as Pat suggests, let’s give them the keys and be patient and let them deliver a great football program. The wheels are in motion on new football facility. And not at the expense of other sports. Let’s have our cake and eat it too.

      Recruiting will improve. It has to. I believe it will. The culture will change. It has to. Facilities, recruiting, culture, football x’s and o’s….. all take time. Gator football is a mess and the reasons are well documented (on this page even) but let’s sit back and enjoy the process of rebuilding and watch the program grow even stronger than it was.

      • Thank you, Rog. So many football fans forget that the team exists because of the university, not the reverse. Great for Alabama that they’ve had a consistently good program. But that pales in the face of academics. I went to UF and then became a Gator fan, not the reverse. I now live far from Gville, and occasionally see other men wearing hats or shirts from other SEC schools. Fine, your football team is good for the moment, I think to myself. But your school will never be what the University of Florida is. For that reason, I am immeasurably proud that my 8-year-old is a diehard UF fan, taking his Gator lunchbox in his Gator backpack to school each day, even though he’s never visited the southeast. Gators are part of UF, and as long as the school is outstanding, my family will love and support it intensely.

        And to the dummies who discount the entirety of the program assembled by Foley, just you shush up. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Just let the grownups continue to shape your world for you while you cry out in confusion. Get a nap, suck something from a bottle, and try to find something meaningful to do with your spare time. Life is passing you by.

  12. Gator Steve nailed it and Dooley was part of the cheerleaders who inflated expectations to unrealistic levels. This is an average team at best that will be lucky to win 7 games and as far as recruiting… I don’t see any significant improvement since this coaching staff arrived. I do see quite a few de-commits. It’s a long road back Gator fans.

    • Perhaps this preseason the players should have been instructed to say: “We have a lot to prove on the field against SEC competition – let’s get to work – we’ll find out how good we are – individually and as a team – much later.”

      No problem – Rory and Jordan, when asked how they compared to Tiger Woods, should have said “check with me in 20 years”.

      • Arnold. Thank you. I for one have no clue why some on here attack Pat Dooley. His articles and columns are always fair and balanced, and he has been a highly respected sports journalist longer than many on here have been alive. And I really appreciated Pat asking Mullen, even though Mullen did not appreciate it and passed right over the question, about the disruption in the locker room after the game that involved Adarius Lemons. The question showed some guts by Pat. Most of the reporters at his pressers ask just surface level questions. Pat after asked the tough questions.

  13. The Tampa Tribune reported that over the summer UF toured Kentucky’s new player’s facility to get some ideas for it’s own facility. It’s almost unbelievable that UF, the school that once held a 31 game winning streak against Kentucky, went to Kentucky to see how Kentucky does things for its football program.

    The decade long nightmare that has been Florida football is the result of the decisions or lack thereof of one Jeremy Foley. The idea of having him hang around as AD emeritus is comical. Clean out your desk and give Stricklin room to do his job.

    I only hope Coach Mullen is given the time necessary to set UF football on the right path.

    • Sticklin will give him that time, and Foley has little to no influence on the athletics program. His position, like Spurrier, is mostly honorary in nature. Although I am sure Foley has valuable advice to offer Stricklin and others, other than hiring football coaches that is.

  14. Great article Pat!

    There are lots of great comments on this page. My simple thought is that IF we believe we have the right AD and IF we believe that we have the right Coach (and I believe that 100% for both) then we just need to BE PATIENT and let them do their jobs! Winning football will follow We’ve taken our lumps for years and will probably do so for a few more. But in time, Gator football will be top tier for a long period. Trust the process.

  15. The article was about stability. To follow it’s logic we would have needed to keep Zook or champ or Mac to be stable. I’m not going to revisit Mac or Zook but champ had to go. And scar will have to admit that soon anyway. But beyond that can we talk about Colorado State and how to beat them. All you can do is try to start again after a spiritual defeat like what champ did to this program.

  16. Very good article Pat. Mullen may be the right coach to get some more titles in Gainesville—no one really knows until he does it. He was an assistant on those 2 title teams, so he knows the kind of players and coaching it takes. Because of a bunch of factors, including hiring blunders, weak recruiting, and bad coaching, Florida is at least several years away from competing for any type of title. Hopefully, things get better.

  17. There’s no way that this team is as bad as it looked against tuck. Too many glory seekers on D trying to pad their stats instead of playing assignment football. Not the first time we have seen our D get carved up by a running / juking qb , ( anybody remember Josh Dobbs ) although this may have been the worst case. That is what happens against an option team if your D ends don’t contain and your linemen and LB’s don’t stay in their gaps. coaches tried to adjust at half and they did do a little better afterwards (part of why there was no pressure combined with the fact our inside guys got owned and got no up field push all game ) I’m afraid that the ” bam twins” have been reading too much of their own clippings. but I hope it took that kind off a$$ whipping for it to sink in that their is a reason why defenses run schemes and everybody can’t just freelance. There is plenty of good skill players on the O and hopefully Hev will figure out a way to get some push out of that group and move the LOS forward. Getting Heggie back would go a long way in that regard imo. Tired of hearing how Toney McCoys boy is “undersized”, he’s got grit and not sure that’s the case with the current starters. Franks can manage the game ok if we can get our running game going and if its possible to scheme around this soft O-line and generate some offense, I have confidence that CDM can. Only time and Rocky Top will tell..

  18. I am in the camp that believes Foley has a lot of blame to shoulder. I believe we will need to eventually undo things he did in his final decisions. Unfortunately this will take years to recover

    I PLEAD with the UAA to NOT GIVE ANY CoNTRACT EXTENSIONS unless MAJOR mind blowing progress is shown 3-4 years from now. UF needs the time to recover from really bad decisions with money, and the program needs to be in the right spot financially when the day comes to move and correct the nonsense.

  19. Nothing mentioned above explains all of the dropped passes and missed tackles that we witnessed. These are fundamental football breakdowns in concentration that I’m betting CDM has them reminiscing about as they run till there tongues hang out this week. That said, I didn’t think the coaches had a great game either as the 12 man penalty after a TO and the pass play on 1st & goal from the 2 come to mind. Some days are diamonds and some are kidney stones, Saturday was a kidney stone shaped like a sandspur.

  20. Sorry to have to disagree with so many here. Jeremy is in no way responsible for the decline of the Florida FB program. The UAA hasn’t managed the FB program with any consistency. We have changed from a Spread Program to a Pro Style Program several different times. Each transition we didn’t get the coach desired but went ahead and hired a new head coach which meant a complete turnover or gutting of all football personnel and a change in recruiting philosophies, i.e. type of recruits. A good managed program would hire similar style coaches along with hiring their first choice. If you don’t get your first choice, you hire a Coach off the staff and keep the staff in place until the following year where again you market or go after the best coach for the program. The object is to keep a high level of consistency and focus as a program. We have had too much turnover in the past decade to maintain any semblance as a well developed football program. The UAA should be deciding what kind of program Florida is to be. A Pro Style or Spread Program, etc. and hire coaches accordingly. If coaching styles are to be made, it should be skillfully and carefully managed and certainly not changed very often. We have made another change with Mullen. Coaches may come and go but we now should stick with this style for years to come. Know that if we change coaching styles, expect several down years to recalibrate the program. Go Gators!

  21. Foley was an excellent AD overall and over a log o years; but he failed in two key areas: football facilities development and the hiring of head football coaches. Those are turning into fairly big stains on his AD legacy now. But I have full confidence that Stricklin has fixed one of those and is working hard to fix the other. Go Gators.

  22. The football program is irrelevant because the UAA and the athletic director want it that way. Scott Stricklin is controlling each and every coach that starts with an M like a puppet and filling the fanbase with false statements about an imaginary stand alone football facility. Its is NOT going to happen because Florida done deal. Meyer left a mess and it will never get cleaned up because they do not want the problems and baggage that came with wins.
    Again….7-5 seasons only once every 5 years is good enough for Mr. Cowbell himself, Scott Stricklin.

  23. Well said Pat. There’s a lot to sort out. The product we see out on the field on Saturday’s is but a reflection of many different aspects of the entire program.

    In some ways you’re soft-pedaling whatever happened between Stricklin and MacElwain that resulted in the gutting of the football program in the mid-season last year. That was absolutely devastating and what we are still recovering from this season with yet another head coach.

  24. You talk about the players having to change sooner rather than later and yet we are trotting out the exact same Oline who have proven over and over again they just suck at their jobs. Doing the same thing you have always done will get you to the same place you have always been. You want the players to change, let Ivey, Johnson etc watch a few series from the sideline.