Dooley: A win Florida had to have

Florida coach Will Muschamp, left, celebrates their win with running back Mike Gillislee (23) after an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M, Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012, in College Station, Texas. Florida beat Texas A&M 20-17.

The Associated Press
Published: Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 10:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 10:02 p.m.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The week that was all about Texas A&M being introduced to the SEC turned out to be about Will Muschamp being introduced to the Gator Nation at its most annoying.

Soaking wet and fired up after Florida's huge win over the Aggies, Muschamp made it clear he was more than irritated about all the negativity that followed last week's win over Bowling Green.

His voice went up a few decibels in the cramped interview room at Kyle Field, his voice dripping with sarcasm. It was very Nick Saban-esque.

“You know what? I know I got killed for last week but there is a reason why we did it … we needed to play that way in that game to play that way in this ball game,” he said as he went Coach Boom on the negativity. “It's a long season.

“When they start having one-game seasons we'll put everything we can into one game so we can win one game and I'll be really happy at the end. I like to look at it as a 12-week season. We have to do what we have to do to win football games.”

Exhibit A in the Muschamp Plan took place on a hot Saturday in Texas. The Gator fans who were unhappy last week were like a mosquito who wouldn't leave your ear alone. But he knew that part of his plan to build this program requires certain things.

And if you aren't entertained by that — whether you be in the media or the stands — well, keep it to yourself.

It's surprising Muschamp, who has a laser beam focus on the task at hand, let it bother him that much. But it was awfully noisy in the system last week.

And for Muschamp and his staff, this was a bit of vindication.

We don't know if we will look back one day as the turning point where Florida started back on the course to become an elite program again. We don't even know what will happen next week.

But we do know Florida dominated the second half of a game against a good team on the road. We do know Florida came from behind to win a football game. We do know Florida got the SEC West monkey off its back.

We know Florida welcomed Texas A&M to the SEC by playing SEC football in the second half. Grind it out, be physical, play defense, mix in a big play or two.

It's not pretty, but this isn't a pretty conference anymore. It's grimy, it's dirty and it has big dudes who can run really fast and arrive with an attitude.

Muschamp wants Florida to be that. On Saturday, his team took a step in that direction.

They battled. They were dominated for a half, but kept it close enough to keep hope alive. And then they took over in the second half.

In the press box at halftime, I told several scribes that the next 30 minutes of football were going to be defining. I thought the Gators had it in them to come out and play the way we all thought they would play this season. But if they didn't, it was going to get really ugly.

Because I've been around the Gator Nation for a long time. And I know how loud it can get.

But for a week, Muschamp quieted the critics and gave the 6,700 Gator fans who made it to Texas a reason to celebrate. He needed it, they needed it.

But it's only a start.

We might have seen a quarterback grow up. We might have seen a defensive line understand that when their coaches tell them not to allow running lanes for a quarterback, they aren't kidding.

“Our guys need to start listening sometimes,” Muschamp said.

We might have seen the beginning of something. We know we heard the loudest locker room celebration we've heard through the closed doors in a couple of years.

“How about that one!” someone shouted as the Gators got ready for their charter flight home.

It's just one.

But it's one they had to have.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at

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