Florida to Kick Off 2017 Football Season Against Michigan in Arlington, TX

A common question asked: when, if ever, will Florida play a non-conference, regular season game outside of the state of Florida? You now have your answer. The Gators will open the 2017 season against Michigan in the 2017 Cowboys Classic in Arlington, TX.

Florida Gators vs. Michigan Wolverines

Florida will technically play the role of the home team in this matchup, although there will nothing homey about it. Mark September 2, 2017 on your calendar, fans (if you are proactive enough to already have a 2017 calendar), as that could be the date the future of all Gators non-conference scheduling changes forever. Although there are many times we’d like to live in our SEC bubble while at the same time stay inside the boundaries of Florida for our non-conference games, this represents an item many fans have been waiting to check off of their wish lists.

We, as Gators fans, understand the schedule we face on an annual basis that comes with being a part of the SEC, but we also wonder what it would be like to play in one of those big, early season games. Florida now has its chance to experience something they haven’t in quite some time. But don’t expect this to become a common occurrence. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley has already said this could be a rarity.

“It will be very much the exception, not the rule, but to sit here and totally close the door on these opportunities just doesn’t make sense.”

Foley went on to say that the trip will be a great one for fans. While he likes the idea of seven homes games, he also thought this was an opportunity that was too good to pass up.

For the Gators, this game could go down in history as one of the program’s great moments, but the big question of who will be coaching Florida at that time remains. Will Muschamp will return for the 2014 season, but unless a turnaround occurs, 2017 is too far in the future to believe he’ll still be coaching the Gators at that time. If he is still employed by the University of Florida, he will be entering his seventh year at that point. That actually might be great news for Florida fans as it means he will have done something (actually, many things) very right in 2014 and beyond.

For now, we can concentrate on the game more than the man who will be leading the Gators to it. Florida plays Michigan at a larger-than-life neutral site and I, for one, will do everything in my power to be there.

Year Four of Will Muschamp is a Certainty, But First the Gamecocks

Will Muschamp was given a vote of confidence this week—he will be the head coach of the Florida Gators in 2014. Both athletic director Jeremy Foley and University of Florida president Bernie Machen have come out in support on Muschamp; Foley going as far as to say he is 1,000% convinced Muschamp is the right man for the job. Debates will rage on, but are now as pointless as are those regarding possible future coaches. Will Muschamp will return, as far as we know.

Will Muschamp - Florida Gators

With the votes of confidence from Foley and Machen, Muschamp can focus on what is sure to be a tough run of final games. The regular season, and in all likelihood the entire season, comes to an end on November 30 with a visit from the currently undefeated Florida State Seminoles. One week before that, the Gators host Georgia Southern in what at one time was thought to be an easy victory. Easy victories have become a thing of the distant past. Prior to both of those games, there is Saturday’s trip to Columbia, South Carolina to face an old friend and another ranked opponent.

I will always have a feeling of admiration for Steve Spurrier, and maybe that makes me a different sort of Florida fan. There are those, and they still seem many in numbers, that despise the man that once led the Gators to glorious moment after glorious moment. After all, he left the Gators and that is the sin of all sins. You don’t win and win plenty at the University of Florida and then leave for a new opportunity or because the pressure was too much. The Gators have had two national championship winning head coaches do so, and many fans are not pleased about it and never will be.

There are some of us, though, that have moved on. I don’t blame Spurrier for leaving; I praise him for what he built. You can argue that the Florida Gators were destined for greatness regardless of the man that led them there. The school is large enough and the state in which it resides is plentiful of star high school prospects. While the 1970s had low points, the 1980s had high ones before Spurrier arrived. In 1990, things changed though. Spurrier returned to Gainesville and took the Gators to new heights. No one can predict what would have happened if he hadn’t, but I like to think those 12 seasons and 122 wins helped pave the way for SEC titles and national championships after Spurrier had long left the orange and blue.



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.

Tyler Murphy Florida Gators

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.


To Heck with You Georgia, to Heck and Beyond

As a fan of the Florida Gators, you’re afforded many rights this week. Among those is the right to tell Georgia exactly where you think it should go, or be banished to. You can also ask them if they’d like to bite something in particular. The options are really endless for it is Florida-Georgia week and the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party has arrived. (We’re not supposed to call it that, but our goal should be to ensure the moniker lives on with future generations.)

Florida Georgia Football

Your mind will be emblazoned with images of Brandon Spikes playing the role of Top Piece of Bread in the Spikes-Knowshon Moreno-ground sandwich, and it should be. There are moments that live with us forever and that is one of them. Another is the one of those damn dancing Dawgs in what we are required by University of Florida law to call a classless and utterly inappropriate display of arrogance. To take us back to positive images, I must quickly mention that Mohamed Massaquoi is still afraid of Reggie Nelson (REGGIE F’ING NELSON!).

Saturday is a date with destiny that isn’t. More was expected of both the Gators and the Bulldogs, but less has occurred for a variety of reasons. Injuries can be blamed and are the easy way out. Blaming injuries gives us comfort because it means our team doesn’t have offensive issues, wasn’t overrated to begin the season, and doesn’t have questions at various coaching positions. It means that a few very unfortunate circumstances led to 4-3 and the losses can be blamed on the absence of a key player or two or three or seven.

Quick side-note relating to records and not injuries: six of the seven teams in the SEC East are currently on losing streaks (including first-place Missouri). Look across the standings and you will see that six of the seven SEC West teams are currently on winning streaks. The lone West team on a losing streak is last-place Arkansas. Hey, the Gators beat them! YAY!

Moving past the injuries, we get to the issue of offense. No, we don’t. Let’s move right past that because we’ve talked about it all before here, here, and here. I don’t know how much more of it I can stomach and I can only imagine that you all are in the same boat. We need offense. We don’t need it next season. We don’t even need it next week. We need it now, or else the Bulldogs of Georgia will chew us up, spit us out, and end zone dance to an easy victory.


Fixation on Urban Meyer Continues as Former Florida Coach Speaks Out about Aaron Hernandez

As we near the start of the 2013 college football season, many of us need to come to the realization that Urban Meyer last coached the Florida Gators in 2010. Two full seasons have passed since Meyer ‘resigned’ as the head coach of the Gators’ football program. Since that time, Jeremy Foley hired a new coach–Will Muschamp–and that coach led the Gators to a BCS bowl following the 2012 season. While that particular game started and ended on a sour note, our focus should be firmly on the man in charge of the Gators now, yet we can’t seem to let go of the fascination with the man that used to coach the Gators. And that fascination is largely a negative one.

Urban Meyer - Florida Gators

I’ll always remember Meyer fondly for two things–the 2006 national championship and the 2008 national championship. You could expand that to bringing certain players to Gainesville as well, but let’s stop with the championships because it’s difficult to accurately predict which players would have gone where had Meyer never taken the job as the head football coach at the University of Florida. Remember, some very bad coaches are great recruiters too. What Meyer did (although some would go as far as to give credit elsewhere even in these instances) is lead the program to two national titles during his six seasons at the helm. The Gators’ football program claims three titles today, two of which were won under Meyer.

There you have it; that’s where Meyer begins and ends for me these days. He was the coach for six seasons and brought two titles. The man now coaches the Ohio State Buckeyes. End of story. Or so you would think

Following the 2008 season, many fans began to sour on Meyer. Once offensive coordinator Dan Mullen left to become the head coach at Mississippi State, Meyer’s offense began to stall. He would produce a 13-1 season in 2009, but fans wondered just how good the Gators really were that year. The following season would be Meyer’s worst as a head coach. The Gators would finish 8-5 and before heading to the Outback Bowl, Meyer would announce he was resigning (for real this time).

Since he’s been gone, fans have continued to grow their hatred for the former Florida head coach. The championships do very little to put him in their favor. They feel he quit on them, on the Gators. If he had truly needed to get away from coaching for an extended period of time, fans may have accepted that, but after only one year off, he ended up in Columbus. Taking over for a program in its own period of turmoil. One season at Ohio State, one undefeated season at Ohio State, and the feelings haven’t changed–Urban Meyer has become the enemy.

The last week did absolutely nothing to get him back into the favor of Florida fans. Gators’ running backs coach Brian White was turned in for illegally ‘bumping’ a prospect–running back Curtis Samuel. The school that turned in White? You guessed it–Ohio State. But then the plot thickened. Not only was it the Buckeyes that turned in White, but it was also supposedly Urban Meyer. A ‘source’ said so, so it has to be true, right? Meyer has denied turning in White and has even gone as far to say he didn’t even know it had occurred, but those pesky sources say he was aware and, if he wasn’t the one that did it, he was at the very least in favor of it.

And we care. For reasons beyond explanation, we care. We care that a man that IS NO LONGER AFFILIATED WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA supposedly (according to those ever-reliable sources) turned in a Gators’ coach for violating an NCAA recruiting rule. Why do we care? Are fans to expect better from someone they can’t stomach? And that right there is why they care. They want to continue to believe Urban Meyer is the bad guy and this story furthers their cause.

Then there’s Aaron Hernandez and a situation completely unrelated to a minor recruiting infraction. A situation in which we should actually side with Meyer. The media has been quick to place blame on what could have caused Hernandez to become the man he is today. The alleged murderer must have had something push him toward his accused actions. Something that couldn’t actually be his fault, right? Enter Urban Meyer.

Known for the high number of arrests during his time at Florida, Meyer was thought by many to care little about discipline when it came to his star players (or in some cases, all of his players). The reality could be that he was attempting to give his players second, and sometimes third, chances. There’s an argument for both sides and one that is raging on again with Hernandez not leaving the headlines in the near future. The truth could be either or a little bit of both, but to place blame on Urban Meyer, the Gators’ coaching staff, or the University of Florida is ridiculous and irresponsible (as Meyer himself has said).

Aaron Hernandez may be a very, very bad man. If he did what he is being accused of doing, Hernandez is not a good person. If that’s the case, the blame is on Hernandez himself. To say his time at Florida turned him into an (alleged) murderer is grasping at every straw you can find. Meyer didn’t cause this and the Florida Gators didn’t cause this. If Hernandez is found to be the one the did in fact kill Odin Lloyd, he did this. If we discover that he was the one that pulled the trigger, that’s a decision he made. The desire to place blame elsewhere is the media’s attempt to enhance the story to unbelievable levels. In other words, it’s a way to get more readers and more page views. It’s also a joke of the worst kind.

In most cases, we want Urban Meyer to be the bad guy. It makes it easier for us to go about our daily lives. He left when the going got tough and Florida fans don’t want to like him anymore. A source said he turned in the Gators. GREAT! Screw that guy! Ohio State loses a game in the future. WOO HOO! Go Michigan! But Aaron Hernandez? No. We must draw the line somewhere and it’s far before that point. The University of Florida isn’t to blame. The Gators’ football program isn’t the blame. Urban Meyer isn’t to blame.

More On Sharrif Floyd And A Standing Ovation For Will Muschamp

The more we hear about Sharrif Floyd’s situation, the worse the NCAA looks. And now Florida head coach Will Muschamp is bringing the…excuse me, but…boom. Go here to read what Muschamp had to say about a disgraceful situation, then sit back and enjoy the fact that he coaches your favorite team. Applause to Muschamp, Jeremy Foley and, most importantly, Floyd. And to Tennessee’s offensive line, well, glad I’m not one of you in eight days.

NCAA Rules Sharrif Floyd Ineligible For Gators Matchup With UAB

The NCAA has ruled Sharrif Floyd ineligible to participate in two Florida games for violations of preferential treatment rules. Because Floyd sat out against FAU, he will miss the UAB game and then be eligible to play when the Gators face Tennessee. He will also have to repay the amount he received to a charitable organization.

What makes the whole situation a story that will continue for the next few days is the response given by Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley. To say Foley doesn’t take no you-know-what from nobody is an understatement. He isn’t happy with the NCAA and isn’t afraid to tell anyone that will listen. Kudos to Foley and to the fact that at least we now know what happened with Floyd and we know when he’ll return to action – just in time to disrupt (read: destroy) SEC offensive lines.

Could The Gators Go 6-6 In 2011? 5-7?

Do you remember The Blair Witch Project? I do. It was awful. So much so that I would probably list it among the 10 worst movies I’ve ever seen. To be fair, the premise wasn’t bad, but the hype killed it. I didn’t see the movie right away, but instead dealt with weeks of hearing how great it was and how I absolutely had to see it. Everyone that said that at the time deserves a punch in the face. When I finally got the chance to check it out, I was more than disappointed. It was boring, not remotely frightening, and – as I said – awful. It far from lived up to its heightened expectations.

The 2011 Florida football team could very well turn out to be The Blair Witch Project; and that has me worried.

Gators fans have expectations that rival few regardless of the situation presented to them. Those expectations helped push Steve Spurrier to the door. They resulted in Ron Zook’s firing. They very nearly killed Urban Meyer. They also lead to pieces like this by Alligator Army’s own FlaGators. To his credit – and that of many that commented on the article – expectations seem tempered. To those few, 7-5 in 2011 is a real possibility – as pointed out in another piece by FlaGators – 8-4 sounds realistic, and 9-3 is the dream. But they are just that – the few.

Most Florida fans don’t feel that way at all. If 7-5 were to occur, they may hurl themselves off of a bridge. A new era means an improvement over last season. A new offense means the days of airing it out again. A new defense means players’ talents will be realized. It doesn’t matter that a new coaching staff is in place with new schemes to implement. It’s the University of Florida and the Gators shouldn’t settle for mediocrity.

I agree with that, to an extent. 7-5 isn’t acceptable for a program of Florida’s caliber. 10 wins should be the water mark. But look at it realistically. 7-5 could happen again and this time around it might not be that bad of an occurrence. Unlike The Blair Witch Project, if the Gators don’t live up to heightened expectations, all may be okay for the long term. What every fan wants or should want during the 2011 season is marked improvement. Whether that translates to wins is another story. 2011 is for the future of the program. It’s the very definition of a transition or even rebuilding year.

I don’t want to go 7-5, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Surprise would be 11-1. Frustration, but not surprise, would be 7-5. But what about something worse? What about 6-6? Or even 5-7? What then?

Florida is among the nation’s top programs for a number of reasons. One of those is the fact that the Gators have not had a losing or even a .500 regular season since 1979. You do the math; that’s a long time. Add postseason games to the mix and you still have to go to 1987 to find a Florida team that lost six games. By comparison, Miami went 5-7 in 2007, FSU lost six games in 2006, 2007 and 2009, three of the last six seasons have produced losing records for Tennessee, and Georgia went 6-7 in 2010. You could even go to the other of Florida’s “big” rivals – LSU. The Tigers went 3-8 in 1999.

So you can see why expectations are so high. Five losses in a season are more than just frustrating to most orange and blue supporters and six losses are unheard of. To put it into perspective, most (not all, but most I would imagine) current University of Florida undergraduate students weren’t alive when it last happened. That breeds unrivaled expectations, ones that make it nearly impossible for the Gators to get through a transition year without hearing Will Muschamp definitely wasn’t the right man for the job.” Those may have been the same individuals that once upon a time pleaded “go see that movie, TRUST ME!”

We could all live with 7-5 though. Really we could. If the offense shows improvement and if the defense plays up to its ability, we’ll accept 7-5 begrudgingly and look ahead to 2012.

6-6 is a different story though. Even think of 5-7 and you might break into a cold sweat. Is it worth falling that low? LSU won two national champions after 1999; one only four seasons after going 3-8 and another in 2007. The others didn’t, but their seasons of futility were much more recent. It is important to note, that the Tigers had a different head coach in 1999 than they did in 2003 when they won the title. The Hurricanes have a new coach and not the same man that went 5-7. The Seminoles are in a similar situation. Muschamp will get more than one season though. He should get at least three. Zook did – although he never produced a losing season.

Three seasons may be too much for Gators fans though. Say Florida does go 5-7 in 2011 then rattle off a 7-5 record in 2012. Will fans want to see Muschamp in 2013? We all think it’s highly unlikely that this would ever happen, but it could. It has happened to many similar programs. What makes Florida unique is that they haven’t experienced it in over 20 years; and that’s why Muschamp’s leash is much shorter than those at other schools. Even if we go outside of the Gators main rivalry base, the difference is staggering. Texas? 5-7 in 2010. Ohio State? 6-6 in 1999. USC? At least six losses in 1999, 2000, and 2001. Oklahoma? Three straight losing seasons from 1996 to 1998. Michigan? Alabama? Notre Dame? Nebraska? None match Florida’s streak. Think about that for one second and it makes the last 23 seasons that much more impressive. But all streaks end.

We expect seven wins, want eight, and hope for nine, but we do so without any true idea of what Florida will put on the field this season. The starting quarterback may be in a better system to support his talents, but he’s had a short time to learn it all and proved virtually nothing in 2010. The running game is dynamic and exciting, but far from consistent; the offensive line will be a work in progress; the linebackers need to become visible again; and the secondary has a 2007 feel to it. Sure the Gators won nine games that season, but some thanks have to go to Tim Tebow for that.

Then there’s the schedule. The October run of Alabama, LSU, Auburn, and Georgia is brutal. The Gators visit South Carolina and host FSU in November. The odds of losing all six of those games are slim, but, again, it could happen. What about Tennessee or even Kentucky? Even lower odds. Much lower, but we aren’t remotely sure what we’re looking at. So why are Florida fans thinking nine wins will be easy? Hope? Unwavering support? Both seem plausible. Both can end up punching you in the gut.

We want to believe it can’t happen to the Gators. There is no such thing as a losing season. Even at their worst, Florida wins more than it loses. It has been that way for more than two decades. So much so that expectations are too high. We believe Muschamp should win immediately. If he couldn’t, then why did Jeremy Foley hire him? (To that point, why did he hire Zook? But let’s not go down that path in this piece.)

I, like most of you, have looked at the schedule at least once a week since it was released. I can see 8-4 and, yes, even 9-3. I can also see disaster. The lump in my throat builds and I almost feel nauseous. Not just because I worry for the team, but I worry for the fans. I worry about what will be said. For every rational piece we’ll read this season after a loss, we’ll read 10 describing a sinking ship and pointing out that the sky is falling. It’s the nature of the Florida fan. It’s the same reason why many are okay with the fact that Meyer is gone despite the fact that he produced three 13-1 seasons and two national championships. If a five-loss season is as bad as it seemed, six means the world has come to an end.

Try to put it into perspective when the season does eventually begin. This is a team, a coaching staff, and a program with more questions than it has had in recent memory. As hard as this may be to grasp, the record may mean nothing in 2011. Florida could go 6-6 and actually be a better team than they were in 2010. If you don’t believe me, I implore you to go back and watch last season’s outings against Mississippi State, South Carolina, and FSU. If you think the only way the Gators can be better in 2011 is if they produce an 8-4 regular season, then you are sorely mistaken. 2011 will be about answering those questions and redefining the program.

After Florida went 6-6 in 1987, they produced back-to-back 7-5 records, but then Spurrier arrived and it wouldn’t be until after he left that the Gators would lose more than four in a season again. 2010’s five losses could be five or six or even seven in 2011, but how they happen is what’s important. Temper your expectations for one year and allow questions to be asked and answers to be found. Don’t go into the season expecting all to be right in orange and blue land. Go into it knowing that we really don’t know much and we’ll all be learning what the future brings together. Don’t let expectations ruin whatever the 2011 produces for the Florida Gators.

One Eyed Observations: Corey Brewer, “Other” Sports, Gator Football

One Eyed Willy. Questions. Answers. Truth.

The Bull Gator: Corey Brewer has a NCAA and NBA title now. Which former Gator is next?
One Eyed Willy: Well, just as a quick rundown for those of you who may not know, there are currently eight former Florida players in the NBA. They are as follows: Matt Bonner (Spurs), Brewer (Mavs), Udonis Haslem (Heat), Al Horford (Hawks), David Lee (Warriors), Mike Miller (Heat), Joakim Noah (Bulls), and Marreese Speights (76ers). Interestingly enough, seven of these eight players played in the postseason this year with only Lee’s Warriors missing out.
But looking back at your question, there is a little bit of a trick to it in that you ask which former Gator is the next to have both a NCAA and NBA title. That immediately eliminates Bonner, Haslem, Lee and Miller from the discussion as these guys never won a title at UF – although Bonner and Haslem already have NBA titles to their credit. Between Horford, Noah and Speights, I would have to say that Noah has the best chance on winning a NBA title. For much of the year, the Chicago Bulls were the best team in the Eastern Conference and although they sputtered against the Miami Heat in the Conference Championship, they are still very much in-line to make a deep run again next year. Especially if Noah is able to stay healthy next year and get into a better rhythm than he seemed to be in toward the later part of this last season. In my opinion, Horford and Speights have a ways to go before their respective teams can make that jump from a playoff team to a championship contender.
If you were to take the UF title part out of the equation, I would say that Haslem and Miller have the best chance of any former Gator player to win a NBA title in the near future. As much as I would like to, it’s still hard to pick against the Heat going forward, even with their collapse against the Mavericks.
TBG: Men’s outdoor track finished third, women’s tennis won a National Championship, softball was the runner-up, baseball is headed to the College World Series, and lacrosse is well on its way to being a consistent national power. Should people be paying more attention to Florida’s “other” sports?
OEW: In a word: ABSOLUTELY!!! Look, I like football as much (or actually probably a lot more) than the next guy, but there are too many great UF athletic teams out there right now to hang your hat on just watching the football and occasionally the basketball teams. For a further rundown of just how well our “other” teams did this year:
Baseball: SEC Champions, on our way to Omaha for the College World Series (for the second year in a row)
Golf (Men’s): SEC Champions, ranked number no. 1 heading into NCAA Tourney, finished no. 5 in the nation
Gymnastics:  Top 5 throughout the year, barely missed making it to the “Super Six”
Lacrosse:  ALC champs, made it to Quarterfinals of NCAA tournament in only our second year (and beat national champion Northwestern in the process)
Soccer:  SEC Champions, finished no. 12 in the nation
Softball:  Made it to finals of College World Series and in the process scored the most runs ever in one inning (11)
Swimming & Diving (Men’s, Women’s): Finished no. 5 and no. 8 in the nation
Tennis (Men’s): Finished no. 9 in the nation
Tennis (Women’s):  SEC and National Champions
Track (Outdoor, Men’s):  Finished no. 3 in the nation and had a chance to win the NCAA title on the last event
Track (Indoor, Men’s):  SEC and National Champions
Volleyball:  SEC Champions, finished no. 8 in the nation
Actually, it would probably be easier just to name the sports we didn’t excel at this year:  women’s basketball, women’s track, and football (side note from the ever optimistic TBG: hey, we won a bowl game). I think we even won the bass fishing national championship (yes, there is such a thing!) and my money is on us winning the ultimate Frisbee championship because I think we win that thing every year. Wonder if Jeremy Foley had a hand in hiring our fishing and Frisbee coaches?
So to make a short answer long, if you went to UF, then you really should support ALL of our athletic programs, not just football and basketball. Now if you are just someone who likes Florida football and never stepped foot in Gainesville, then I guess it really doesn’t matter. But do yourself a favor and watch some of these other sports the next time they pop up on your TV while channel surfing. After all, there is a good chance you may end up watching that sport’s next National Champion!
TBG: We are not as far away from the start to football season as we may think. What one thing excites you? What one thing concerns you? (And yes, I am aware there is definitely more than one of each.)
OEW: I am assuming when you ask me “what one thing excites me” you are referring back to the football team. If not, this post could get pretty weird pretty quick.
Taking that assumption into account, the thing that excites me most about the 2011 Gator football teams is the freshness of everything. Last year was a downright awful year. As I have said many times, the 8-5 record we had does not begin to illustrate just how bad last year really was. The offense was anemic, the defensive was like a sieve on many occasions, and the coaching staff seemed genuinely disinterested throughout the season. This year brings hope back to a team that had piles and piles of hope just 10 short months ago.
I am very excited to see how this new coaching staff does on the field. I think they are already proving that they can recruit with the best staffs in the country. Now we need to see what they can do between the sidelines. If I had to pinpoint one specific part of the team that I am most excited about seeing it would be the defensive side of the ball and more importantly the defensive line. I think we could have one of the sickest d-lines in the country and with Muschamp, Quinn, Young and Co. (sounds like a law firm!) back there coaching them up, I am anxious to see what kind of improvements we can make over last year’s squad.
I think the one thing that concerns is the same thing that concerns 99.99% of Gator fans out there. Will John Brantley be significantly better than he was last year? Notice, I didn’t say will he be great. Because we don’t need JB to be great. We just need a guy who can put up 20 TDs and only 7 INTs and manage the game in the crunch time without looking like he has no concept of the offense or looking like he has never seen a blitz before. Let’s face it…we aren’t winning the National Championship next year and chances are we won’t win the SEC. But we can certainly take huge steps towards improving what we saw last year. To do that, we need JB to step up, gain some confidence back, make the reads, and throw the ball to the open WR – preferably the WR that is past the first down line on a third and long. But that might be asking too much. Can Brantley be that guy? Unfortunately at this point, your guess is as good as mine.

It’s Pepsi, Will

People tend to have strong opinions regarding their brand choices. Try to convince me that Ken’s ranch is even on par with Kraft ranch and I might slap you silly. The same goes for ketchup. Anything not made by Heinz tastes like tomatoey garbage to me. Those are just my opinions of course. I also prefer Coke to Pepsi, but when I’m in The Swamp and it’s roughly 2,000 degrees on a September afternoon, Pepsi will do just fine.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp has crossed the Coke/Pepsi line. He’s broken down the wall and accidentally mentioned one when he may have meant the other (sorry, gotta pay the troll under the bridge to access this one). Addressing a Gator Gatherings’ crowd in Orlando, FL, Muschamp said he sold Coke at games when he was younger. Jeremy Foley – ever the astute business man – made sure Muschamp knew it was Pepsi, the official cola drink of the Gators. It’s a slip up Muschamp is allowed and I forgive him for it, but if he ever neglects to correctly identify Gustafson Farms chocolate milk as the official chocolate milk of Gator athletes, I’m done with the man.
Muschamp went on to say some other things about football and his players and blah, blah, blah. The thing most will remember about this is that the coach at a Pepsi school is a Coke drinker.