The band cranked up the fight song and some of Florida’s players stumbled around like they didn’t know where to go. It had been that long.
The children of several coaches sprinted onto the field and jumped into daddy’s arms and daddies hugged each and every one like they hadn’t seen them in months. It had been that long.
UF president Kent Fuchs stood in his usual spot under the goalpost greetings players and coaches and shook hands with a smiling Scott Stricklin, the Florida athletic director. It had been that long.
It had been 49 days, 49 mind-numbing and excruciating days, since Florida had won a football game. It felt like longer.
“It’s a great feeling,” said senior receiver Brandon Powell. “Everybody’s happy now.”
Well, happier anyway.
The season isn’t going to right itself and suddenly Florida will have a shot at a winning record and a bowl game. But for a night, anyway, a perfect night for a football game, no team has ever been as happy to beat Alabama-Birmingham.
“They had a lot of fun,” said interim coach Randy Shannon.
Take all of the salt you want to digest a win over UAB as being a feel-good moment. Sharpen your cynical knives. Let the sarcasm drip like honey from a comb.
Pardon these guys if they enjoy it.
“Never going to forget (this season),” said defensive tackle Taven Bryan.
Who could? No matter how hard you try.
Florida made sure it wouldn’t have a Georgia Southern by doing all of the things right Saturday night that it hadn’t done in the last five games.
Twice in the game, the opponent left the ball go on the ground and Florida recovered it. I have checked with some people at ESPN Stats and they tell me this is called “a fumble.”
I had forgotten what one looked like.
Mostly, Florida won because a team that had every reason to quit decided not to. Only 52 scholarship players available at practice? Scale it back and stay fresh.
“It’s a grind,” Bryan said. “You get kind of sore. It’s very impressive what (the coaches) did with what they have.”
It would have been easy to cash in all remaining chips and spend days at the airport with the media members searching for Chip Kelly’s plane.
And the fans didn’t have to show up and make a bunch of noise either. They could have sat home and thrown bags full of Cheetos at their TVs.
Instead, the alumni side was filled and the students offered their usual drive-by attendance but it was loud enough to boost a team in need of afterburners.
“No matter what happens, fans are the fans,” Shannon said. “They’re going to support you no matter what because they are fans. And this is the one place I’ve been that’s not a fickle fan who’s only going to be there when we’re winning.”
Well, sort of.
It’s not like anybody’s jumping on a bandwagon that’s down to one good wheel. For a better analogy, I give you the Wyoming Wildman, Mr. Bryan.
“This thing was the Titanic, man,” he said. “These guys have been patching it up. And we’re floating.”
Of course, not everybody made it on the Titanic. For every Rose, there was a Jack.
But at least for a night, it felt like there was some hope.
Next week, two teams with seasons so bad they seem like a dream will play in The Swamp. Even though their seasons can’t be salvaged, there can be the tourniquet that is bragging rights.
“I appreciate all the fans we had, but we just need a couple more,” Bryan said. “Get a couple more fans in there and we’ll get that thing loud and we’ll win the game for them.”
But that’s for another day. This was a day (and night) for trying to forget every bad thing that has happened this season.
“It has been really hectic,” said center Tyler Jordan. “We’re not going to BS our way through the rest of this season. How we finish the season will put everything into the big picture.”
There’s no way that picture is fetching anything at an auction. But that doesn’t mean you have to quit painting.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.
Impressed with Tyler Jordan at center. And Forsythe looked good at RT, with Taylor looking more like a natural LT and Ivey more a natural LG. If all those guys return next year and Heggie returns healthy, the OL could be much better next year. Hope springs eternal.
Geez, did this read like Dooley was slapping the fans? He called us cynical and sarcastic, and wrote as though it is the fans bashing poor misunderstood, noble-but-ovverwhelmed players while he (by inference) has rendered judgement that we should all be nicer and just cheer the lads on because, well, they tried.
I am very proud of this team for fighting tonight, as proud tonight as I was ashamed of them after “The Great Quit” versus Mizzou. And hope against hope, I really hope they can find a way to upset the damn Noles.
But the condescension that pours from Dooley is really hard to understand. He spent the first half of the season bashing the fans for the very opinion he came to almost 2 months late, even as he worked as a lowly shill for a fraud coach’s condiment sideline. Why Dooley, at this late hour, would you throw sideways slams at the very fans who pay for the entertainment – and that’s really all it is – on which you purport to report? Are you really so mean-spirited?
You must be fun at parties.
The life of …
Amazing, Pat, how different people can read the same article and come away c completely different takes, from “tone” to “substance”.
Great piece Pat. It’s been that kind of season.
Actually enjoyed the article, Pat. Great line about the Titanic, Rose and Jack, LOL. Keep painting, Gators. Beat the Criminoles.
Great job Gators! It feels good to win – for all of us. Give SOS the offense for next week and let’s take out the crims as a grand finale to this forgettable season.
Good crowd too. Thru All Kinds of Weather We All Stick Together for F-L-O-R-I-D-A!
‘Everybody’s happy now.’ You got it Brandon Powell. All that was needed was a win over lowly UAB. Good job! More proof that these guys just don’t get it. Another senior who I’m glad is not coming back.
The players haven’t quit! They get it.
You, on the other hand, sound disappointed with the win.
B Powell will be glad not to be here next year to play for pathetic “fans” such as yourself.
Happy Thanksgiving Mikey!!! You sound very thankful.
Nice piece Pat! Always enjoy your work.
David. He is a FSU troll.
I’m ready for Chip Kelly to get here and go for two after our first touchdown. The swagger will be back in one TD drive.
It will be real cool when we go for two after the first two touchdowns against the tribe next year. Ticket prices are going up!
David, I’m ready too….but today is the 20th around noon out here in Texas, and what I’m reading now is that Kelly wants to talk to UCLA before he decides on the Gators one way or the other. Like I’ve always said, timing is everything. If what I’m reading now is accurate in the least, I’m back to 50-50 on him and wouldn’t be shocked if he takes the UCLA job instead. Too bad if so, he could win national championships at Florida.
Mikey. Brandon Powell has never played for FSU. If he had, maybe the Noles could have won against Louisville, North Carolina, NC State, Boston College, and Georgia Tech in recent times.
”…the first since Arden Czyzewski made five against Notre Dame in the 1992 Sugar Bowl.” ~Gatorsports.com.
Ya’ mean, back when Jerome Bettis ran through the Gators’ porous ‘D’ in ’92, and yet the ’92 Gators were still better than this team today (sad to admit). Just ask Mike ~whinny~ Bianchi.
”A word of advice for Chip Kelly, Scott Frost, Dan Mullen or whoever the poor soul is who inherits the smoldering tire fire that former Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain has left behind, You better be an offensive genius, a defensive mastermind, a relentless recruiter, a strength and conditioning guru, an exacting disciplinarian and a facilities architect. In short, you better be a magician and a miracle worker.”
~(whinny) Mike Bianchi.
So Pat, the man whose place you took said some really nice things about U.F…. NOT!
True or not, who really knows? But I know this much: Mikey sounds like Micky, so Oralndo is a good home for him!
But only a few weeks ago, Bianchi was praising Mac and jabbing ungrateful UF fans. Now, like the Dooley-Andreu show, he has turned on a dime and has no memory of his recent opinions.
Sounds just like Little Ricky as well
I keep hearing what an “upset” it will be if we beat FSU next week. Really? Two lousy teams, c losing records each, play and one wins. That’s an upset?
Have I missed something? Are you saying that Mike Bianchi from the Orlando paper is the same Mickey posting on this site? Ridiculous!!!!
I’m proud of how the Gators played, would enjoy a victory over FSU tremendously!