Twitter could be one of the worst things to happen to our society, or one of the best; there is no in-between. It allows us to find out at a moment’s notice that the Florida Gators are no stranger to injury, while also bringing trash talk to a new level. It also accounts for more moments of awkwardness than possibly any other medium, because as a not-so-famous (at the time) actress once said in a movie about another social network “the internet is written in pen, not pencil.” (That may have been paraphrased for reasons having to do with me being too lazy to look it up.)
What did Twitter bring us today? It brought us Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin. Franklin is the motivation type as many coaches are when it comes to Twitter. You won’t find much real talk when it comes to such figures. Instead, it’s all inspirational quotes, motivational sayings, or battle calls to rally the troops. But occasionally awkwardness rears its ugly (and humorous) head.
— James Franklin (@jamesfranklinvu) November 8, 2013
Put it this way, if you need a disclaimer every time you say something, you should think about saying it in a different way. When “opportunity is now here” quickly becomes “opportunity is nowhere,” it’s time for a new hashtag, even if it is oddly appropriate for the game about to take place this Saturday.
The opportunity for the Gators to secure a bowl berth is now here. That much is true; painfully so. When you’re nine games into the season and need a win against a Vandy team that beat a Georgia team that beat you in hopes of going bowling nowhere better describes things than now here. And that is exactly when we give out yet another large sigh and ugh ourselves into the fetal position. “Opportunity is nowhere, but hey look my vat of beer is now here!”
Opportunity is nowhere because the Gators are 4-4. It’s nowhere because a bowl isn’t a guarantee. It has been too many years since Florida last missed bowl season and too many to even think of a losing record. Opportunity passed us over and moved on to the next man standing. (With Oregon’s loss to Stanford just one night ago, that man may be Florida State. Say it with me again without vomiting just a little in your mouth—“UGH.”)
From that, let’s talk about coaching changes. Wait, no. Let’s not do that. We have plenty of time for that. It seems like the end of the season is fast approaching, but we still have four games to go, meaning we have more than enough time to talk about the fate of Will Muschamp and the rest of the coaching staff. And complain about them and then complain about whoever the Gators replace him with if they do. Is FireTheNextGatorsCoach.com available?
Quick prediction: At least three assistants go, while Muschamp returns for year four.
Let us instead talk about the players. I have a hard time being too hard on the players. Mostly because they are kids and I’m a man in his mid-30s. I also had the pleasure of sitting a few rows in front of a man much older than I who absolutely hates Jeff Driskel and isn’t afraid to let the world know it. That’s fine (free speech and all), but if you have that much of a problem with a college kid playing a game, you should reevaluate the way you choose to live your life. Players perform and players don’t. We can analyze their talents and weaknesses and successes and mistakes to death, but there’s a line. We’ve all come close to that line and even crossed it in the privacy of our inner circle of friends (myself included), but I hope 20 years from now I don’t openly and publicly hate a player as much as this individual despises the Gators former starting quarterback.
Now that I’ve taken us to a different level of moods entirely, back to those players and what they’re playing for. Over the years, I’ve read my share of articles describing the bowl experience and how even a tough season can end on a high note for the players as they go through a bowl week. That’s why as disappointing a 7-6 or 6-7 record with a bowl appearance may be to us fans, I hope the players get to experience it. It doesn’t matter where or when the bowl is, you don’t want your season to completely end in late November.
For Tyler Murphy, I hope he starts at quarterback for the Florida Gators in a bowl game. He was thrust into playing time at a moment’s notice and responding as best he could. The offense he was thrown into had struggled for years before he became its QB. Most thought he would never play much more than a few final minutes of a game here or there. There is no BCS bowl in site for Murphy, no SEC Championship Game to play in, but he should get a bowl. Murphy may only have a few more games left in him as the starting quarterback; I hope one of those is a bowl game. He’ll look back on this season years from now and see the highs and the many lows and one high should be being able to experience a bowl, whatever it is.
For the rest, and they could be singled out, but I’ll spare you that, much of the same applies. We have no idea what 2014 will bring. Staff changes are sure to occur whether they’re few or many. Next season’s offense will take a turn one way or another. It may get better, it may remain stalled, but it will be different. There could be a new coordinator or a new head coach. Either way, 2014 is a new season. The players need to find a reason to finish 2013 before we get there though. Whatever that reason is—passion for the game, heart, self-respect, drive, desire, their teammates—they need to find it. As much as we fans think we need a win, the players truly do need it. I think it’s hard on me to lose and I don’t matter; I’m just a guy with a ticket and a blog.
On the light side, I hope we can laugh tomorrow. The weather should be perfect in Gainesville, so there’s that—78 degrees and no chance of rain. That’s football weather right there. I’ll be there, cheering on the Gators hoping to all hope we beat a Vandy team that has given us a handful of close calls over the years. 5-4 or 4-5 doesn’t seem to matter all that much anymore, but we need something to keep us going another week, so here we go. Go Gators! Just win. #opportunityisnow (You see, James Franklin, simply dropping the “here” makes it all that much better.)