Mike Blakely To Transfer From Florida; How You Can React

Florida was bound to lose a player or two with the coaching change. It happens everywhere. We try to fight it and act like every player should sit tight and see where things are going before they jump ship, but that is far from being a realistic approach. For whatever reason, some players feel like they do not fit anymore. It could be the new coaches, it could be new schemes and systems, or it could just be the school in general. So far, it looks like we have hit quite the variety of reasons with the players that have left the Gators since Will Muschamp came aboard.

The latest is running back Mike Blakely. Blakely came to Florida from Manatee (Bradenton, FL) were he became one of the nation’s top backs. He went with the Gators over a number of other schools and stuck by his decision even after the coaching change occurred. Blakely graduated high school early and came to Gainesville for the spring semester to get accustomed to the school and the program. Unfortunately, an injury kept him out of spring practice. In the end, Blakely’s high school position coach – former Gators back Rod Frazier – said Blakely got homesick. Frazier also mentioned that having to miss practice was hard on Blakely who had come in early specifically to train with the team. Blakely himself has come out and said he did not feel comfortable with the new offense.
So Blakely will leave, but be restricted in where he can go. No SEC schools and not FSU or Miami. He could go the junior college route for a year and then go anywhere he wants, or he could transfer to an unrestricted program and sit out for a year. He seems to already be leaning toward coming back to the SEC one day. If he ends up winning a National Championship with Auburn one day, I may jump out a window. But anyway…
When a player leaves (especially one you like…I was a big Blakely fan throughout his recruitment) you have a choice of how to react. There are many options available for you. It is important to pick one early and stick with it. Here a few of those options numbered conveniently, but without meaning.
1. Get angry. This is the reaction of most. It is completely rational to get upset at a (in most cases) teenager for feeling he would fit in elsewhere. After all, you are probably in your 30s and are still upset at your own life decisions. So go Hulk on the situation and become enraged. As I said, there is nothing quite as rational as being angry at a player (a kid) looking to transfer.
2. Play the “we do not need him” card. This is the preferred choice of The Bull Gator. Instead of worrying about why he left or what holes his departure leaves, immediately determine how the player’s transfer actually makes your team better. Does he not fit into the system? GREAT! Was he a trouble maker? YOU WILL NOT MISS HIM! Remember, you only need players that want to be there and that fit into the system you think you have even if you really have no idea what that system is because you never played a day of organized football in your life.
3. The Percy Harvin Approach, also known as the “do not let the door hit you on the way out” option, and affectionately referred to as The Jarred Fayson Corollary. This is similar to the second option, but has more of an “I could not care less” feeling to it. If a player does not want to be part of the program, then he should not be here. It is simple and does make some sense. You want kids on your team that want to be on your team. You typically do not stew over this one for an extended period of time. You simply say “good riddance,” move on, and then laugh when the player struggles elsewhere.
4. Run for the hills because everything is crashing down around you. This is the overreaction reaction. One transfer leads to two transfers which lead to three transfers which lead to a five-loss season. You expect more and even though the player leaving may have touched the ball only 10 times during the upcoming season, his loss is just one of the falling dominoes. If you have come to this point, you may need to find another sport of choice. There is always the NFL. Oh wait.
5. Mourn the loss. Different than option number four because you are truly sad to lose that particular player. You threw around the idea of a “man-crush” for so long. You watched highlights of him tearing up a small private school class 1A defense. You already ordered a jersey with his name and number on it. Your obsession has reached unhealthy levels. And just like that, he is gone. To further the pain, he will end up at a rival and you will remember when you first fell in love. Just remember, he is not coming back and neither is your ex-wife.
6. Total ignorance. You do not follow the roster in the offseason. Why would you? Your concern is what happens on Saturdays and the whiskey-induced haze you are usually under has you unable to remember player names and numbers let alone know where they came from and how good or bad they may be. You are a weekend warrior and the only thing that matters to you is the final score – assuming you remember it – not how you got there.
7. And finally, Tim Tebow. A casual observer may only know one thing about the Florida Gators and that one thing is Tebow. “Who is Mike Blakely? Hey, did you guys see that new Tebow commercial? I need a stay cool shirt!”

My Most Gut-Wrenching Sports Moment

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 13: A Florida Gators fan looks on dejected during a game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida. The Gamecocks beat the Gators 36-14. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)I was listening to The Scott Van Pelt show the other day and he and Ryen Russillo were discussing Boise State’s overtime loss to Nevada and Kyle Brotzman’s missed kicks. Van Pelt and Russillo were talking about how the end of that game has to be a Broncos’ fan’s most gut-wrenching sports moment ever. I can agree with that. While it seems unlikely that Auburn or Oregon will lose, there is still a chance either could slip up, but if they do, Boise State will no longer be the team taking their place in the National Championship game. After all the talk about how the Broncos belong in title discussions, they didn’t get through the regular season.

Van Pelt and Russillo went on to talk about their own most gut-wrenching moments. Van Pelt recalled Duke and Jay Williams blasting Maryland and Russillo went on about two of the usual Boston Red Sox moments – Bill Buckner and Aaron Boone.

This of course made me think about my own moment. I, like most people, am a fan of a number of teams across a variety of sports. I could point to one of the Orlando Magic’s NBA Finals appearances, but I’m a passive Magic and NBA fan (which is funny because I used to LOVE everything about the NBA) so while Nick Anderson’s missed free throws will always be remembered, they were far from gut-wrenching. Ray Rice provided many moments that might make any USF fan puke, but it’s hard – when looking at the entire picture of those seasons – to determine how much of an impact they really had. So I turn to the team I’m most passionate about – the Florida Gators.

The moment is easy to pick. It’s actually a series of moments put all together that repeatedly kick me in the stomach even almost 15 years later. But while it can all be combined for a night of pain for Florida and Gators’ fans, one moment stands above the rest. One moment is burned into my mind so much so that I can accurately replay it in my head without needing to watch the highlight.

By now you already know which moment I’m talking about. It happened on January 2, 1996. The #2 Florida Gators faced the #1 Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Fiesta Bowl for the National Championship. These were two dominant teams throughout the course of the season. The Huskers’ closest game was a 13-point victory. The Gators’ was 11. Nebraska was the favorite according to Vegas, but many thought Florida had a good chance to win because of Danny Wuerffel and the Gators’ ridiculously efficient passing game. The result was a 62-24 Huskers’ win. That’s right, 38 points. The Gators took a 10-6 lead into the second quarter. 15 minutes later, Florida was down 35-10 at the half. And it didn’t stop there.

Like I said, the game as a whole is still tough for me to swallow. I was a high school senior at the time only a few months away from starting classes as a freshman at Florida. I had been a Gator my entire life and that was it. Remember, USF wouldn’t even play their first ever game for another 20 months and those of you that have been around this site before know my passion levels for the two aren’t even in the same galaxy. I have an ongoing flirtation with the Bulls. I’m madly in love with the Gators.

This was the National Championship. Add that to the fact that I’m in that minority that actual believes the 1995 Gators’ squad was better than the 1996 team which won the title. That may seem blasphemous given how badly they were defeated by Nebraska, but I’m also someone who believes the 1995 Huskers are the best college football team ever.

On to the moment, like I said, you’ve probably already figured it out. It’s the play that always made me cheer just a little quieter for Rod Frazier even though he was wearing orange and blue. With less than a minute left in the third quarter and Florida just having scored to put the score at 42-18, the moment happened. Tommie Frazier ran for what looked to be about a 10-yard gain. In a flash, it became a 75-yard touchdown run. Frazier broke tackles, avoided tackles, and, oh yeah, broke more tackles. Even more painful was the tackles he was breaking. Right before Frazier broke free, he practically runs over Ben Hanks and drags Lawrence Wright for a few yards. For those of you not well-versed in Florida history, those are two very, VERY good defenders. Two of the better tacklers and hitters the Gators had and probably ever have had. Frazier treated them like they were kids attempting to bring down a Hall of Famer. It was oh so upsetting. In case you missed it, here’s the video…

You’re probably not too happy with me for posting that. I’m not too happy with myself either. The caption for the clip says “one of the greatest Husker QBs ever.” That could be one of the more understated claims you’ll hear. Tommie Frazier is one of the greatest to ever play the sport. Period. When healthy, he was unstoppable. As a fan of college football, watching him in that game was seeing something special, something historic. As a Gator fan, he might as well punched you in the nose and then kicked your dog while you were drowning in your own tears. That run was the definition of gut-wrenching.

I’d imagine many Florida fans have the same moment at the top of their list, but if not or if you aren’t a Gator fan, feel free to add your most gut-wrenching sports moment. We might as well prepare ourselves for the sorrow that is the end of the college football season with some past sports nightmares.