Battle royale? Losing coordinator leaves town

Florida high end C'yontai Lewis catches a pass as offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier watches during the second day of fall football practice for the Florida Gators at the Donald R. Dizney Lacrosse Stadium in Gainesville. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

It’s funny how some things stick with you. Your first kiss that isn’t from your grandmother, your first hole-in-one (pats self on back), maybe a day at the beach where you absorbed the perfect combination of sun, boiled shrimp and margaritas.

A sunset in Cedar Key, a sunrise in Crescent Beach, a sunny day in between.

Doug Flutie’s pass, All the way Callaway, “the band is on the field” and “Auburn’s gonna win the football game.”

Even as we old folks get older and memories fade, there are some that never will. For example, there was the 1971 Nebraska-Oklahoma game, perhaps the best ever played, the Game of the Century before it was a cliche.

And the cover of Sports Illustrated that is burned into my brain right next to Magic Johnson’s baby hook to beat the Celtics.

The headline read, “The Irresistible Force (Oklahoma) meets the Immovable Object (Nebraska).”

That magazine cover keeps firing neurons in my brain because of what we’re going to see today.

Which should be the exact opposite.

The Resistible Force (Florida’s offense) meets the Movable Object (Tennessee’s defense).

Young children should hide their eyes. May the least bad side win.

We all know the leaky trash bag that Florida left by the side of the road in Arlington, Texas. The Gators couldn’t run effectively, throw the ball down the field, block anybody or hold on to the football.

It’s a miracle the offense found the correct sideline at Jerry World.

Unfortunately for the Gators, they only have that one-game sample size this season, but any Gator fan worth his weight in chicken wings can quote you the sad history of offensive football in Gainesville post-Tim Tebow.

The last 28 games have come with Doug Nussmeier as the offensive coordinator. He moves up to the press box for this game assuming the big-money boosters heading to their suites let him onto the elevator.

Meanwhile, take Bob Shoop … please, say a lot of Tennessee fans. He was supposed to fix what ailed the Vols defense when he came on board last year. Tennessee had a bunch of injuries and the defense was horrible in November. This is where I could point out that Florida had a bunch of injuries last November and didn’t stop playing defense, but that’s not what this is about.

It’s about an offense that ranked 116th in the country last year and currently is 127th going up against a defense that ranks 95th, just as it did a year ago. Thank goodness for Indiana State, huh Shoopsie?

I’m not one to call for people’s jobs and I like Nussmeier. I wouldn’t throw Nuss under the bus, because it’s not just his offense.

But this certainly feels like a “coordinator leaves town” game.

If Florida can’t move the ball and score some points against this defense, it may be time to blow it up.

If Tennessee’s defense can’t contain the kind of slapstick UF offense you’ve been watching for the last couple of years, it might be time to give Shoop the wrong itinerary for the next game.

The athletes are too good on both sides of the ball to be as poor as they are. But they both have a track record.

Last year, Tennessee gave up 536 yards a game to SEC foes. It started this season by giving up 655 yards to Georgia Tech.

Last year, Florida scored 31 offensive touchdowns and only 11 teams had fewer. This year, the Gator offense is on a pace to never cross the goal line in a game.

We know that one side will be happy today and one will be grinding its teeth after this game. It may have less juice than some of the homes in our area, but it still matters a lot. It may matter more to the loser than the winner, especially if either Florida’s offense continues to stink like chum or Tennessee continues to play defense like Carmelo Anthony.

Still, it’s Florida-Tennessee, a rivalry game, an important game in the improving SEC East, a national TV game.

There may not be a lot of buzz. So create your own. Throw off the shackles of predictability and take it to a different level. Elevate and execute.

I could be talking to Florida’s offense or Tennessee’s defense.

The question is whether either one is listening.

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


  1. Think the Vols have 2 starting linebackers, one starting safety, two starting wide receivers, one starting defensive back, two offensive lineman……..(did I miss any) that are either out for the season, or out for the next several games. 8 starters that were planning to play. Not saying it’s the same for UF with the suspensions, but that is a lot of starters missing a big SEC game.

  2. It is easy to criticize – much harder to focus on the positive and build people up, which is what good coaches do. Disappointed in this highly negative article that gives no credit whatsoever to the Florida Gators. Suggest the author move to Tallahassee where his anti-Gator articles will be better received and appreciated. I, for one, do not appreciate what was said. Imagine being a Gator football player and reading this trash.

    • I get you, Glen, and I totally agree that it both stings and sounds crummy to say. But sadly, Pat is spot on right now and yes, the truth does sting sometimes. My worry, however, is that if this mess continues through this season, the Gators will not only be unable to keep up in recruiting but will have completed the transition from elite to irrelevant. Hoping for the best, however. OK, praying for it too.

  3. This Florida offense deserves every negative thing Pat writes and then some. Proud of Pat (and a little surprised) that he’s been as cutting as he has the last couple of weeks. Good! It’s time to turn the kitchen light on to at least let the cockroaches of this offense know that either things change very fast, or the end is near.

  4. Pat – Best article you’ve written in a long time. I agree with every word you wrote about the Florida offense but, I couldn’t care less about UT’s defensive troubles.

    There is no, as in zero, defense for the state of the Gator O. And this has nothing to do with being positive or trying to find the bright side. Let’s call it what it is – the next to the worst offense in the country.

  5. I clearly remember back years when Pat was getting a lot of flack for what some assumed homer type articles. Now when he critiques the Gators truthfully and honestly, here comes the fans with their heads in the sand saying he’s disloyal. Can’t win for losing, huh?

  6. Pat you are delusional. With the exception of a dwindling fan base, no one cares. Mac’s contract is about equivalent to the National debt ceiling. This administration will be happy as long as T shirts sell and there are fannies in the seats. They could go back to 1979’s stellar record of 0 10 1and nothing happens.
    I would only hope for the players sake, that Mike Kent is run out of town. Maybe the UAA will spring for a strength program, but beyond that, no changes.
    Its great to be 0 10 and 1.