How about a little patience for new Gator regime?


Published: Friday, January 7, 2011 at 3:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 7, 2011 at 3:43 p.m.

Florida football fans are known for a lot of things.

Their passion.

Their loyalty.

Their sense of entitlement.

Their ability to make your ears hurt.

Their swagger.

Their uncanny sense for knowing whether you are a Gator or not before you open your mouth.

Florida football fans have quite a reputation around the country and the Gator Nation is everywhere. Fans of other southern teams find them to be arrogant and cocky. The last 20 years have been miserable for those fans, who have watched Florida win three national titles, eight conference championships and survive Ron Zook.




Now, as Gator fans try to wrap their arms around an energetic new coach who has brought in a fascinating staff, maybe it's time to try something that is rarely seen in these parts.

A little patience.

If Florida's first play of 2011 does not go for a touchdown, let's all calm down a little. If Will Muschamp's first team does not go undefeated and win the national title over the Steelers 100-0, relax.

The 2011 Gators are not going to score on every play, shut out every opponent or win every game.

But that's fine. This was not a hire for this year but for many years.

So show a little patience.

You screamed for a new offensive coordinator, and you got one of the best. You wanted to throw the ball for more than two yards on third-and-8, and you have a guy who will do it.

But I want it now!

We all know Muschamp will be judged by championships. But let's give the guy a little time.

Because if you look at the situation rationally, Florida will probably be an Outback Bowl kind of team again next year. Check back with me in Year Two.

This new staff inherits a team with talented players. But many of the young ones came to Gainesville with attitudes that had yet to be earned. Urban Meyer told me before the bowl game that he liked the talent he was leaving for Muschamp, but "the young guys need to grow up."

The new regime also inherits a team that has to change everything. The transition year of one coach leaving and another coming in is always bumpy. Remember, it was after the 10th game of the year that Meyer kept his players on the tarmac in Gainesville, kicked two of them off the team and demanded that the rest of them buy in. In Steve Spurrier's first year, he changed the culture but there were also a pair of losses in which the opponents each scored 45 points. Charley Pell's first team went 0-10-1.

It's not easy, no matter how hard you work.

Right now, Muschamp has no idea who will be his quarterback, his tailback, heck his right guard. And while I would not be surprised to see him pull a nice first recruiting class, it won't be his best.

And then there is the brutal schedule. During one six-week span, Florida will play Alabama, at LSU, at Auburn, Georgia and at South Carolina.

The Gators aren't getting through that schedule unscathed.

Look, I know that a lot can change between now and the start of the season. John Brantley could return and flourish in a different system. Mike Gillislee could turn out to be Herschel Walker once Florida gives him the ball.

All I'm saying is that on January 7, as I sit here I'm not expecting a great team at Florida next season. But I expect greatness to come eventually.

I know I'm also preaching to a fan base that couldn't understand how a team could possibly lose football games, despite losing 11 players — including one of the best to ever play the game — to the NFL and four coaches to other jobs and despite playing in America's best conference.

Certainly, 2010 wasn't what anyone expected. But there are places where 8-5 would have fans doing cartwheels. Florida is not one of those places. Never will be again.

Spurrier and Meyer saw to that.

Just be patient. It will come eventually.

In the land of great expectations, is that possible?

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. You can listen to The Pat Dooley Show weekdays from 4-6 p.m. on 104.9 FM. And follow at http://Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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