Muschamp stays, but changes have to come


Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp shakes hands with Vanderbilt Commodores head coach James Franklin at mid-field after the game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 in Gainesville, Fla. Vanderbilt defeated Florida 34-17.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 6:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 6:38 p.m.

There were plenty of boos and more empty seats. It was a beautiful day in Gainesville unless you happened to be rooting for the Florida Gators, a hapless football team that found a way to get blown out at home by a team that never blows out anyone.

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Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp shakes hands with Vanderbilt Commodores head coach James Franklin at mid-field after the game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 in Gainesville, Fla. Vanderbilt defeated Florida 34-17.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer

I'd say this team hit rock bottom Saturday, but Georgia Southern is still out there.

You can blame the coaches and they are certainly deserving. Will Muschamp said after the game, “What we're doing so far is not working. You keep doing the same stuff, you're going to get the same results.”

Yeah, well, it shouldn't take a loss to Vanderbilt at home to figure that out.

But certainly the players have to be held accountable for a miserable performance in The Swamp. Tyler Murphy had his worst game as a Gator and checking to an option play on first-and-goal at the 1 was almost as bad as the three interceptions he threw.

The third of those picks was another of those imperfect storms for the Gators. The pass was behind Trey Burton when it shouldn't have been. Burton bobbled the ball into the arms of a Vandy defender when he shouldn't have.

I think it was at about that time that Aloe Blacc's voice came blaring over the public address system.

“Wake me up when it's all over.”

But I'm going to look at the positives:

1. You can lament that the second-longest bowl streak is going to come to an end, but I can counter with the fact that Florida won't be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars because of unsold bowl tickets.

2. With every loss, Florida continues to chip away at Florida State's BCS resume. OK, I'm reaching now.

3. It's almost over.

This season has been one of the most disappointing in the long history of a program that has had its share of disappointments. And it's not going to get any better with South Carolina up next and the sudden juggernaut that is FSU waiting for a chance to put up style points and kick the Gators when they are down.

And they are down. They're down more than they were when Ron Zook was the coach. They're down more than when Urban Meyer's final season turned into a dumpster fire in the middle of a train wreck.

This is bad.

“I don't want anybody to be happy,” Muschamp said. “I'm not asking for anybody to give a pass.”

Of that, you needn't worry Coach Boom. The Gator Nation is out for blood, not just because you had your second four-game losing streak in three seasons and because Florida is under .500 for the first time since 1992, but because of the way those losses have come about.

Take Saturday, for example. Please. Vanderbilt ended years of frustration against Florida and won for the first time in Gainesville since the first-ever meeting between these two teams by employing a pretty simple game plan.

Don't mess up. Florida will. Just wait for it.

The Commodores didn't even have to try to win this game. They completed six passes. They had only 187 yards of offense.

But all they had to do was wait for Florida to screw up. And they did, as they have so many times in the last five weeks.

And with every mistake, every play that sucked the oxygen out of the stadium, you could see the shoulders slump and the resolve start to float out into the air as if it was attached to a helium balloon.

Muschamp said his team has developed a “woe is me” attitude when things go wrong. They must be on Twitter.

For all of the injuries and all of the issues that have enveloped this team, there is still no excuse for what happened Saturday. Never should a Florida team have to admit after a game that Vanderbilt was the tougher team, both mentally and physically. I don't care what James Franklin has done with that program, they still don't have the players at Vanderbilt that Florida has.

And that's why even the most fervent Muschamp supporters are raising eyebrows today. I've said all along that firing a second coach in less than three years would send a bad message and devalue the job. I've pointed out that Florida won 11 games last year. I've regurgitated the injury list so often I know it by heart.

But when you lose to Vanderbilt on homecoming by more than two touchdowns, it changes things.

Muschamp isn't going anywhere and he shouldn't. But something or things have to change.

Even if it's too late to save this season.

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

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