D'Angelo: What has happened to Florida’s once-proud college football programs?

Tom D'Angelo
Palm Beach Post
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When assessing how the first half of the college football season has played out in the state of Florida, this is all you need to know:

Florida State, which started the season 0-4 and lost to an FSC program (Jacksonville State) that since lost to UT Martin and Kennesaw State, is feeling better about itself than any other of the other major programs in the state.

And if 2-4 FSU is the best this state can give us at the top of the food chain — and it isn't a whole lot better at the bottom, either — there are a lot of universities wondering what has happened to their cash cow.

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This week marked the first time since Nov. 6, 2011, that Miami, Florida and Florida State all were unranked by the AP, snapping a streak of 159 polls in which at least one appeared in the top 25.

Those three bell cow programs are a combined 8-11. Throw in UCF (3-3) and USF (1-5) the only other programs in the state that have appeared in the Top 25 at one time, and that record is 12-19.

That's a lot of losing through seven weeks of the season. Soon, Florida Teams will become a thing on social media, just like Florida Man.

And perhaps the lowest point was last week. The state's FBS teams were 0-4, meaning it was a good weekend for FSU, FAU and FIU to be off.

This week got off to a good start with FAU dominating Charlotte on Thursday, the day the school officially announced it soon would be joining the American Athletic Conference (essentially replacing Big 12 bound UCF). And Florida State (2-4) will make that at least two wins come Saturday. The Seminoles must feel they're back in the Bobby Bowden-Jimbo Fisher era as a seven-touchdown favorite over UMass. 

The Seminoles are the only team entering the week on a winning streak, though modest at two in a row. Considering what this program has become since Fisher's departure to Texas A&M, that must feel like a1990s type streak.

"A lot of excitement within our team and among our coaches and throughout the program," coach Mike Norvell said Monday. "I like the direction we're heading. I think we're moving in the right direction."

That would be the opposite direction of Florida (4-3) and Miami (2-4).

The Gators are off Saturday before they attempt to avoid a beat down by No. 1 Georgia next week. What this means is more time to stew over an inexplicable loss to an LSU team with a lame-duck coach and about half the team — or at least it seemed — either injured or tapping out.

Florida head coach Dan Mullen looks on during the Gators' loss to LSU Saturday at Tiger Stadium. Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when Dan Mullen was an offensive genius? That was just last month when he was being praised for almost beating Alabama. Florida put up 29 on the Crimson Tide, which three weeks later was smoked for 41 points by Texas A&M with its backup quarterback.

Florida now has lost 3 of 5, the last two as a touchdown favorite at Kentucky and a double-digit favorite at LSU. The highest paid coach in the state making more than $7.5 million a year has won two of his last six games against Power 5 programs. But he has shown this year he can dominate FAU and USF and FBS imposter Vanderbilt. 

But if you're Dan Mullen, at least you are not Manny Diaz.

While Mullen's hot seat might be a cup-of-water-in-the-microwave-for-30-seconds lukewarm, Diaz's is South-Florida-pavement-in-July hot.

And Miami now is in danger of seeing its overall losing streak stretch to four with games coming up Saturday at home against No. 18 North Carolina State (plenty of good seats available) and a week later at No. 23 Pittsburgh. The program is in disarray. This week alone, two receivers entered the transfer portal, and a quarterback who is completing 47.3 percent of his passes with three interceptions and two TDs in the only two starts he's made against programs with a pulse (Virginia and North Carolina), was talking smack.

"What are they like top something in the country? That doesn't matter," freshman Tyler Van Dyke said about the NC State defense, which is 11th nationally by the way. Van Dyke has taken over the QB duties for the injured D'Eriq King.

"I don't think they can really stop us."

It should be pointed out here that the Wolfpack may not have to, considering Miami has done a good job of doing that to itself with mistakes and undisciplined play.

It's been 322 days since the Hurricanes last beat a Power 5 program, losing their last six. Diaz was asked about the outside noise this week during his weekly radio show.

"It's there," he said. "Everything on the outside is fair. There's a lot of pride here. Everybody wants to see the wins and no one more than the people inside the locker room."

Miami leads the state in one category: Missed tackles. In fact, with more than 90, the Hurricanes lead every P5 school.

Hey, at least they are good at something.

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