Will Muschamp Wants LSU To Remain On Florida’s Schedule

With the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, many discussions have centered around what schedules will look like in the upcoming years. Will the league go to a nine-game conference schedule? Will the divisions remain as is? Will annual cross-division rivals be scrapped? We don’t know which direction commissioner Mike Slive and the SEC will take, but we do know that head coaches are in support of some possibilities and against others.

Will Muschamp has his opinions and isn’t one to shy away from them and one of those opinions involves keeping LSU on the Florida Gators’ schedule.

“I like the every year playing LSU. I think that’s good. I think that’s good for the league. It’s two national programs with the recent success we’ve both had.” – Will Muschamp, Florida Gators’ Head Coach

Muschamp is also in favor of the current eight-game conference schedule and hopes the SEC sticks with it. Regardless, he wants LSU on the schedule. The rivalry that has developed in recent years coupled with the prominence of the game is just too much to throw away and turn into a twice-every-six-years affair.

There wasn’t long ago that I may not have agreed with this. I felt that the other Tigers – Auburn – presented a stronger rivalry and should be the permanent game. It could have just been a fan’s perspective, but that was the game I wanted to see continue. Over time, that feeling has lessened and I’m more than comfortable having Florida play LSU year after year. In fact, I look forward to it with increasing anticipation. The rivalry has intensified and the fanbases have recognized that.

I don’t hate LSU with the passion a diehard Florida fan hates Florida State or Georgia or Tennessee, but I don’t have that deepdown hatred for Auburn either. It’s more of a rival’s respect of sorts and the desire to experience good football. The game has developed an aura about it over the years and is something I look forward to annually. While I still feel a rise of sorts during the seasons Florida plays Auburn, the annually contest with LSU has climbed the charts.

My vote doesn’t count, but I’m with Muschamp on this. The eight-game vs. nine-game schedule is a different argument, but keep playing LSU. The coaches want it, the players want it, and the fans want it. The SEC should want it too.

Florida Gators 71 – Virginia Cavaliers 45; Gators Advance To Face A Surprise Opponent

We’ll try our best to make this about the Florida Gators’ 71-45 victory over the Virginia Cavaliers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but something that delayed this recap being written is occupying all of our minds. With the Gators win, most expected them to face the Missouri Tigers in the third round – a No. 2 seed by the way – but that won’t happen after they were upset by the Norfolk State Spartans. But let’s focus on the victory.

Over the past few days, Gator Nation has fallen in love with sophomore forward Casey Prather. First, there was this. Now, there is his performance in the win over the Cavaliers. All Prather did on Friday was play 22 minutes, make six of his seven field goal attempts, and score 14 points. Those were all season highs and the points were a career high. Prather didn’t have to be the hero – the Gators did win by 26 after all – but he was regardless. In mere days, the legend of Casey Prather has been born.

Playing in his first tourney game, freshman guard Bradley Beal was impressive. Beal had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds and had his shot while the other guards didn’t. We hate to have to bring it up again, but with the exception of Beal, shots from other guards were hit or miss with miss coming up more often than not. Erving Walker: 3-for-8. Kenny Boynton: 3-for-10. Mike Rosario: 1-for-4. Patric Young, Prather and Beal more than made up for it, but IT MUST CHANGE! Sorry, it’s Friday evening and that high of winning and then experiencing an upset is still there, so we’re all easily excitable.

On to the weekend and, come Sunday, game two.

Florida Gators Get 7-Seed In West Region, Will Face Virginia Cavaliers

A win over Alabama and a tight game with No. 1 overall seed Kentucky in the SEC Tournament weren’t enough to impress the selection committee. The Florida Gators are headed to Omaha, NE as the West Region’s No. 7 seed to face No. 10 Virginia. It’s not ideal, but it the NCAA Tournament is upon us and these are the cards the Gators have been dealt.

The Gators’ struggles late in the regular season had everything to do with the team’s placement in the Big Dance. Inconsistent play made it hard for many to predict exactly where Florida would land. Despite that, a decent showing at the SEC Tournament gave hope of a higher seed, thereby allowing the Gators to avoid a No. 1 or No. 2 in the third round.* As it stands, if the Gators are able to defeat the Cavaliers, they will likely face No. 2 Missouri in their second game. A preview of many future conference battles, but one I’m sure we’d all prefer to avoid until the 2012-13 season.

Florida is one of many teams capable of putting together a run in the tourney, but it all starts with Virginia. The loss to Kentucky was disappointing, but the Gators will now be measured by how well they respond. This first game can go a long way to restoring confidence of a team that underachieved down the stretch.

There will be plenty more to come, including previews, analysis and more, as we lead up to the game.

*Dear NCAA, you should return the tourney to 64 teams for a number of reasons, one of which the naming of the rounds.

2012 College Football Strength Of Schedules; Battles Ahead For The Florida Gators

With recruiting officially in the books, the beginning of spring football just around corner, and March Madness rapidly approaching, it will be only a matter of days/weeks until college football fans officially shift their focus to the upcoming 2012 season. And given the way that the Florida Gators’ 2011 football season turned out, you can’t blame us here at Hail Florida Hail for “jumping the gun” just a bit. So with that in mind, I bring you my way too early look at the 2012 college football strength of schedules (SOS).

For those of you who have visited this site (and its predecessor site) before, you know that I love numbers. That’s probably why I majored in Finance while at UF and am now in the investment banking industry. Given this fact, I have decided that the easiest way to analyze one’s SOS when teams have yet to even take the practice field is to look at how each team’s opponents finished the 2011 season. The simplest way to do this was to take an average end of the year ranking for each team’s 12 upcoming opponents. Sound complicated? Well, it’s not really. In fact, the hardest part was trying to find a complete ranking for all 120 teams after the bowl games had taken place. In the end, I decided to go with the College Football News Top 120 (in association with Scout.com and FoxSports.com) as it seemed fairly accurate and reliable. With that in mind, let’s look at the Gators’ 2012 SOS:

As you can see, the average 2011 BCS ranking for the 12 teams that Florida will face in the upcoming football season is 46.2. One thing to note is that I had to assign some sort of BCS ranking to FCS (Division I-AA) teams. I chose to assign them a BCS ranking just below the lowest ranked FBS (Division I-A) team, therefore they were all assigned a ranking of 121. We could argue the legitimacy of this assumption for hours, but honestly that wouldn’t be much fun, so let’s just go with it for these purposes.

Using this methodology for all 14 teams in the SEC (it still seems weird to say 14 teams in the SEC!), I came up with the following SOS for the conference members:

Some interesting thoughts based on these results:

• At first glance, I was somewhat surprised that Ole Miss had the toughest 2012 schedule on paper out of any of the SEC teams. But upon further review, it actually makes quite a bit of sense. First and foremost, they play in the SEC West which guarantees that they will play teams that finished #1 (Alabama), #2 (LSU), #7 (Arkansas), #27 (Auburn), #29 (Texas A&M) and #41 (Mississippi State) in 2011. In addition, their two SEC East opponents are #11 Georgia and much improved #46 Vanderbilt. Finally, Ole Miss has a mid-season out-of-conference matchup with #24 Texas, a team which most SEC schools frankly wouldn’t schedule as an out of conference opponent even if they had to. That means that 9 of Ole Miss’s 12 opponents in 2012 finished ranked in the top 50 in 2011. Not exactly what you want to hear if you are a Rebels’ fan who just suffered through a dreadful 2-10 season.

• Missouri’s SOS seems pretty high as well considering they are playing in the water-downed SEC East. But SEC West opponents of #1 Alabama and #29 Texas A&M strengthen their SOS considerably. Plus, Missouri plays two out-of-conference games against decent competition in #61 UCF and #66 Arizona State. It should be noted that Missouri has yet to finalize its final game of the season and should they pick up a FCS school, the Tigers’ SOS would drop significantly down to 50.4.

• The two teams that battled in the BCS National Championship have the exact same SOS leading into the 2012 college football season. Both Alabama and LSU play against teams that had an average ranking of 51.91667 in 2011. Seems almost too coincidental to be true, but it is.

• And then there are the Bulldogs (both Georgia and Mississippi State). First looking at UGA, their 2012 SOS certainly isn’t helped out by the fact that the SEC East was down last year and only resulted in one team (besides Georgia) being ranked in the top 25 at the end of 2011 (#14 South Carolina). In addition to this, Georgia plays three games against teams which ended near the bottom of the rankings last year (#89 Ole Miss, #113 Buffalo and #119 FAU) and an additional game against a FCS team (Georgia Southern). All-in-all, the Bulldogs certainly can’t blame the schedule makers if people are once again calling for Coach Mark Richt’s head by mid-season.

• Mississippi State’s schedule though is simply the worst in the conference. Although these Bulldogs play in the SEC West which is no laughing matter, they counteract those difficult intra-division games with games against the two worst teams in the SEC East (#53 Kentucky and #54 Tennessee) and out-of-conference games against #112 Troy, #115 Middle Tennessee and two FCS schools (Jackson State and South Alabama). Mississippi State finished 7-6 last year. If they don’t at least duplicate that record in 2012 given the schedule they have, fans may start wondering whether Dan Mullen really is the answer.

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Florida Gators 2012 Football Schedule Has Its Benefits And Drawbacks

On Wednesday, the Florida Gators’ 2012 football schedule was released to anticipation not experienced in quite some time. That anticipation had as much to do with the Gators as it did with the new (and improved?) 14-team SEC. We knew Florida would be facing the Texas A&M Aggies and Missouri Tigers, but we weren’t entirely sure when and how those games would impact the rest of the schedule. Now we know.

A few thoughts come to mind with the releasing of the schedule. There are those parts of the schedule that benefit the Gators, but there are also those that could be seen as drawbacks. We already anticipate 2012 to be an uphill battle for Florida. 2011 didn’t answer many questions and left us all wondering what the future would bring. If the future was supposed to be 2012, it’s now 2013. Rebuilding doesn’t happen overnight, especially with an incomplete roster. Roster concerns are a discussion for another time though. For now, the schedule.

A completely unintentional twist to the schedule is the start of it. The Gators will close the 2011 season with the Gator Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes are soon to be coached by former Florida head man Urban Meyer (as if you weren’t aware of that fact). Florida opens the 2012 season against the Bowling Green Falcons. Meyer just so happened to be the Falcons’ head coach 10 years ago. It’s a merely a minor coincidence and one I had to reach for, but it’s there.

To have the Gators not open their SEC schedule with the Tennessee Volunteers is a problem. Okay, so it may only be a problem to me and a select few others who feel that matchup should always kick off the conference schedule. On one side of the coin, that game hasn’t always started the SEC games for Florida. On the other, it has for a while now and we’re (read: I’m) used to it. It doesn’t create a problem per say, but starting the conference schedule with Texas A&M in week two will be a change and possibly a challenge. It might not be a change we have to become accustomed to though as 2013 will bring the first of the “true” schedule templates for the near future. 2012 is simply a blip as the conference gets comfortable with 14 teams.

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2012 Florida Gators Football Schedule

It’s December 28 and the Florida Gators have yet to play their final game of the 2011 college football season. What better time than now to discuss the 2012 schedule?

On Wednesday, the Gators 2012 schedule was released, five days before Florida would close out the 2011 season. This isn’t surprising, but it may be a little early to be discussing what will happen in 2012 when we haven’t even determined if this season will end with a winning or losing record. Then again, what am I saying?!? We’re fans…er…fanatics; we live for this stuff. As expected, the Gators will face both of the new SEC members – the Texas A&M Aggies and Missouri Tigers. Playing seven home games is still the norm. All in all, plenty of winnable games, but plenty of challenges as well.

With that, the 2012 Florida Gators football schedule:

*Home games indicated in bold. And where it says “Gainesville, FL.” See how that works?

September 1 – Bowling Green Falcons – Gainesville, FL
September 8 – Texas A&M Aggies – College Station, TX
September 15 – Tennessee Volunteers – Knoxville, TN
September 22 – Kentucky Wildcats – Gainesville, FL
October 6 – LSU Tigers – Gainesville, FL

October 13 – Vanderbilt Commodores – Nashville, TN
October 20 – South Carolina Gamecocks – Gainesville, FL
October 27 – Georgia Bulldogs – Jacksonville, FL
November 3 – Missouri Tigers – Gainesville, FL
November 10 – Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns – Gainesville, FL
November 17 – Jacksonville State Gamecocks – Gainesville, FL

November 24 – Florida State Seminoles – Tallahassee, FL

Florida Gators To Play Texas A&M Aggies And Missouri Tigers In 2012

The official schedule hasn’t been released (or maybe it has depending on when you’re reading this), but one thing is apparent – the Florida Gators will meet both the Texas A&M Aggies and Missouri Tigers on the gridiron in 2012. Florida will travel to Texas A&M and host Missouri in September, welcoming the SEC’s newest members to the conference early in the schedule.
The debates will rage on as critics and supporters continue to attempt to decide if the Aggies and Tigers were the right choices for the conference. At this point, those debates fall on deaf ears, at least around here. They have joined the SEC and will be members for what will most likely be a very long time (or until the super conferences come along, but we’re almost guaranteed the SEC will be one of them in some form). Due to that, I welcome Texas A&M and Missouri and look forward to watching Florida face them both during their first year in the nation’s best conference.
As the Gators begin their march back to respectability, I enjoy the idea of developing new rivalries. It may take years or even decades, but we get to witness them grow from the beginning. Neither will be a Florida State or a Georgia; we can’t expect a Tennessee or even an LSU; but something will brew between the Gators and those formerly of the Big 12. Hate them the way you hate the rest of the SEC. Respect them for what they hope to become. They didn’t join the conference on the cusp of winning its sixth straight national championship without a hope for improved competition.
While welcoming the Aggies and Tigers to the schedule, I do have a few concerns; selfish ones, but concerns all the same. First and foremost, I’ve come to expect the Gators to open their SEC schedule every season against the evil orange of the Tennessee Volunteers. It wasn’t always that way, but I’ve become accustomed to it. This isn’t necessarily a bad change, but one that alters an expectation. While the proposed schedule with Texas A&M before Tennessee isn’t set in stone for the future, with 14 members we can expect some changes to stick. Where the Vols fall on future schedules is anyone’s guess.
The other purely selfish concern is a change to the 2012 road trip. The plan was to visit The Grove as the Ole Miss Rebels hosted the Gators. Plans were made, but luckily not obsessively worked out. Altering those plans impacts no one but the fans, but this particular fan and a few select others were looking forward to taking in all The Grove had to offer. We now wait patiently for another opportunity to present itself.
Selfish reasons aside, I can live with and even support a schedule that looks like the one we’ve currently been presented with. It may not be ideal for some, but I’d like to see Texas A&M now as opposed to who knows how many years in the future. As for Missouri, if we go by today’s alignment, Florida will face the newest Tigers every year, but that’s far from guaranteed until we know more about future schedules. So I welcome the schedule and the 14-team SEC as much as I can. I’m not waving the conference realignment white flag, but I am in terms of these two. They will be members of the Southeastern Conference; like it or not. I’ll choose to like it.

Florida Gators vs. Furman Paladins: The Quickest of Previews

A quick rundown of Florida’s game against Furman because there might not be time for a fuller one. Such is the life of the casual blogger. You may have not known this, but our lives are very demanding. We have commitments that include a day job, wasting time reading articles covering sports we don’t even like, trying to watch The Wire from start to finish, and general sitting around. So from time to time, you get the brief.

I won’t even go into the must-win analysis again. You know what this game could mean, I know what this game could mean, the Gators know what this game could mean. It’s not often we find ourselves here. As Florida fans, the sun has been shining as of late and even 2010’s 7-5 regular season was 6-4 after 10 games. (That doesn’t help at all, does it?) But things could be worse; we could be cheering for 4-6 (0-6) Tennessee. Okay, so that may have been a cheap shot, but it’s really all we’ve got this year.

On we go to Furman; to a 6-4 team that wraps up their regular season on Saturday against Florida. A team South Carolina defeated by 19 last season and Missouri beat by 40 the season before that. A team that lost to Auburn by 32 in 2009 and former Gator Ingle Martin took to overtime against Pittsburgh in 2004. A team Florida should beat, but by how much is anyone’s guess.

There are victories and moral victories. The moral type are typically losses, but in this case Florida needs it to be a win. The Gators need a real victory and a moral one and a moral one won’t include anything less than an old-fashioned butt whupping at The Swamp. With depth issues and problem units impeding Florida’s progression as a team, that may be too much to ask for, but this is a game the Gators should win big time after time. The 2010 Florida team had it’s problems as well, but still managed to beat Appalachian State by 38. The Gators need that again. We all need that again.

What We Found Out Overnight About Texas A&M

First there was the talk. Then there was a posting of some sort of confirmation. Now there’s more talk.
I’ll start by saying if you don’t read Team Speed Kills, start doing so. TSK is SB Nation’s SEC blog. It covers the SEC in detail and has plenty of good items about the upcoming football season. If SEC expansion is your cup of tea at the moment, you can get plenty of opinion and discussion at TSK. Just over the past few days, TSK has covered the possible conference expansion, talked about what teams would have to do to block new programs from entrance, and is expertly covering Texas A&M.
Now on to what we now know…
We know that the Aggies are seriously considering a move to the SEC, which would put them in the West with the likes of Alabama, Auburn, and LSU. We know that AggieYell.com’s hits went through the roof yesterday when they posted a story on their homepage that indicated the deal was done. We know that Texas A&M system spokesman Jason Cook has said no deal is in place, but we also know that sources are saying the school’s regents board will meet on August 22 to vote on the move and other sources are saying the SEC has scheduled an emergency meeting for Saturday.
So for now, it appears as if nothing has happened, but that doesn’t mean it won’t. It continues to become more and more likely that Texas A&M will join the SEC and that an announcement could come soon. The move could occur in 2012 or 2013, but the Aggies are likely to come. What happens next is anyone’s guess, but a 14th SEC member is the logical assumption. Oklahoma? Missouri? Maybe a program out of the ACC?
Don’t think the SEC will stop at 13. 13 creates scheduling issues in a conference with divisions. After Texas A&M joins the SEC (IF they join the SEC…added for the just-in-case factor), another program won’t be far behind. Expect the SEC of the future to have a different dynamic in only another year or two.

Morning Reading: Expansion Not as Big as Once Thought

It’s all over.  The dust has settled.  There may still be a ripple or two in the water, but the big name is staying where it is.  Texas will remain in the Big 12.  The program that everyone believed would make the biggest impact when deciding on its new home, didn’t end up leaving.  Not to the Big Ten.  Not to the Pac-10.  Not even to the SEC.  The Longhorns didn’t budge.
Despite losing Colorado and Nebraska, the Big 12 remained strong by keeping the Longhorns, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M (despite flirtations with the SEC).  What’s of interest now is if the conference sticks with 10 teams or decides to get its way back to 12.
The Big 12 South remains one of the stronger divisions in college football.  The Big 12 North?  Let’s stay polite and just go with “not so much.”  Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, and Missouri.  That’s it for now.  So what does the Big 12 do?  Go after other teams or ditch the division format?  10 or 12 teams, something has to change.
The Big 12 doesn’t want to drop a championship game so getting back to 12 teams is certainly something to consider.  TCUBYUUtah.  Possibly even Boise State (Mountain West or not).  There are plenty of possibilities that might not make the loss of the Buffaloes and Cornhuskers all that bad.
Then there’s the thought of moving forward with just 10 teams, which the Big 12 seems like it might be okay with.  Less teams – the ones that wanted to stick around – means not as many to split the revenues among.  Due to unequal revenue sharing, the big dogs take home the lion’s share and they may not want to give any up.  While the Big Ten may have just become the Big 12, the Big 12 may have in turn become the Big Ten.
Through all of this the conference did lose two programs.  The 10 that remain keep the Big 12 among the nation’s elite, but the new number isn’t enough.  The Big 12 needs to become the Big 12 again.