My calm is my 15-month-old son. No, his name isn’t Tim or Percy or Danny or Reggie, but he’s awesome all the same. He’s at the perfect age where he loves the Florida Gators, but also doesn’t know they exist. I can say “Where’s chomp chomp?” and he’ll run to his playroom, find his football with the Florida Gators logo, run back to me, and point at the logo. He does so smiling the entire time as if nothing could make him happier. When the games start, he points at the television, cheers and sometimes even claps (he does the same for Chugginton and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse). The key, though, is that he has no idea what’s really happening. He doesn’t know they are playing football and has no idea who wins or loses. Not only does he not know the outcome, he doesn’t care. He likes chomp chomp, but has no concern over silly things like scores. The game ends and it just means it’s time to play with Daddy. That makes him happy and it makes me happy. He is my calm and the reason I haven’t seriously thought about seeing how far I can launch my Gators garden gnome into the conservation area behind our house.
This season has given us all many reasons to not be calm. There is an offense ranked in the 100s, where it has been during Will Muschamp’s entire tenure. Even without injuries to its starting quarterback and running back, the offense was far from productive. It was a case of “let’s hope this works, but not get too risky in the process.” You know, because taking chances is highly overrated. It has essentially become the opposite of exciting. And there’s nothing we can do about it, but watch, shrug and laugh (painfully).
We have to make it through four more games. I won’t say five because there’s a serious concern that the Gators won’t become bowl eligible. You’re looking at Vanderbilt and Georgia Southern and wondering how that could be possible. I’m looking at the Commodores win over Georgia and last season’s miracle victory over Louisiana-Lafayette and not penciling in game number 13 just yet. It’s so far from guaranteed, we barely want to mention a bowl. That’s not how Florida football should be, at all.
And then there’s the plummet down the SEC standings. 4-4 with a 3-3 conference record has put the Gators in fourth in the East. That record would be good for fifth in the West. On one hand, only one SEC team has allowed fewer points (Alabama, 78) than Florida (137). On the other, no team has scored as few (168). I’ll say that again, NO TEAM IN THE SEC HAS SCORED FEWER POINTS THAN THE FLORIDA GATORS. Remember the 90’s? What about Urban Meyer’s offenses (his final season removed)? The Gators have averaged 14.3 points per game during the current three-game losing streak. Find your calm. Find your calm. Find your calm.
This season has shades of 2011, when the Gators also started 4-4 after a hellish October. Florida used a narrow victory over Vandy to propel themselves toward bowl eligibility. They’ll need the same this year, but even if they do what does a bowl really mean? The answer is not a whole lot.
We didn’t want to blame Muschamp for the 7-6 2011 season for many reasons. The main one was, of course, that we wanted to put it all on Meyer. Hatred was directed toward the man who we felt quit on us. We gave Muschamp a pass for the most part even if we did hang out around the water cooler discussing his worth. Then, Muschamp won some respect in 2012 for 11 wins, but there were cracks as evidenced against Georgia and Louisville (and in some of the victories as well). As we hurtle through losses toward what could be 6-6 or even 5-7, we find ourselves wondering if Ron Zook really was that bad. In case you were wondering, Zook was 23-14 at Florida. Muschamp is an eerily similar 22-12 at the moment. In the SEC? 16-8 for Zook. 13-9 for Muschamp. (Even if Muschamp beats Vandy and Georgia Southern AND wins a bowl game, he’ll be 25-14 over three seasons. Barely better than Zook.)
Both were defensive coaches who needed help with the offensive side of the ball. Muschamp isn’t finding it. Charlie Weis, fail. Brent Pease, what do you think? What the Gators have ended up with is a head coach so focused on defense that he either doesn’t know who to hire on offense or he holds them back from letting them coach their way. We as fans are wondering who the next head coach will be, and that wondering didn’t start yesterday.
At this exact moment in time and many of the moments preceding it, I want offense. I want an offensive-minded head coach that has the wherewithal to hire a defensive genius and let him do his thing. I want Will Muschamp the defensive coordinator as the Florida Gators’ defensive coordinator. Except I don’t because we’re reached critical moving on status from him. There are many reasons that I’ve covered and many that I haven’t, but here’s another one…
Jimbo Fisher is 39-10 as a head coach currently in his fourth season at FSU. Yes, it’s the ACC and some of you will want to bring that up as an argument. You’re more than welcome to, but the fact still remains that Fisher won 10 games in his first season with a program that hadn’t won that many in the six before that. After winning nine in year two, he finished season three 12-2 with a BCS bowl win. Oh yeah, he’s 8-0 this season and staring down a spot in the national championship game. Then there’s this: Fisher is an offensive guy.
I don’t put that out there to give you another punch to the stomach; you’ve had enough. I do so to point out that there are hits and misses. Spurrier and Meyer, regardless of what you think about them now, were hits. Zook was a miss and Muschamp is quickly becoming one. Even if the Gators close out the season with five-straight wins as some part of sick joke played by the football gods, we have to wonder what’s next. None of us want to wonder anymore; we want to know. We want offense. We don’t want 6-6 and we’re downright frightened of 5-7.
(As an added bonus, look what I wrote in 2011 before Muschamp’s first season.)