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 firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.