The Florida Gators need to find a coach in a hurry because it’s getting darn-right ugly out there.
It sure doesn’t feel so good to see Humpty Dumpty – the Florida Gators – appear to be crashing right in front of your eyes.
It sure doesn’t feel so good down here near Rock Bottom in the SEC East, looking up with the MIssouris, Vanderbilts and Tennessees at the Georgias, South Carolinas and Kentuckys.
It sure doesn’t feel so good have to beg UCF coach Scott Frost to come bail out your program, especially with the new early-signing date for 2018 prospects coming up Dec. 20.
Gator Nation needs a 12-step program. The prevailing mood is sadness. Will there ever be gladness again?
It should all start with Steve Spurrier, the Head Ball Coach, dressing up again as Mr. Two Bits and pumping some life back into a morbid fan base. He’s about the only voice of good cheer these days.
The Ambassador/Consultant/Cheerleader says that Humpty Dumpty’s wounds don’t have to be fatal. HBC believes the right coach with a winning record could put the Gator football program back on a winning track again in short order.
“All you have to do is look at Central Florida,” Spurrier said on my radio show Monday. “Of course, their coach (Scott Frost) … everybody in the country is going to be after him. Two years ago (2015), they didn’t win a game! Now they’re undefeated. It doesn’t take that long at all.”
Frankly, if it would help with the pain, most Gators would gladly adopt the phrase “Drain the Swamp” without the political implication. Not the one in Washington, D.C.; the one in Gainesville, F-L-A. Maybe they should.
The 42-16 thrashing by Missouri marked the first time a Gator defense has given up 42 points in back-to-back games in a century. That same Swiss cheese defense is allowing more points per game than any Gator team in over 70 years.
And you thought the offense stunk. No wonder Gator Nation is angry, discouraged, disgusted, flummoxed and mystified. Some of the fans are downright deranged.
The pain manifests of itself in many ways – some in ugly fashion, waaayyy over the top.
Social media gangsters went ballistic with their personal attacks on redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks. Columnist Pat Forde of Yahoo.sports copied down a few of their barbaric tweets, some of which wouldn’t even pass the taste guidelines for a bathroom wall.
Among the worst:
“If I was your coach I would pay them to hurt you.”
“F— you I hope you die b—-.”
“Can you please just leave the program, you’re aids.”
“HOW THE F— DO YOU SMILE 35-0 DOWN?!?! YOU’RE THE BARACK OBAMA OF QBS!!”
“I WISH YOU WERE NEVER BORN.”
It’s the kind of ugliness which tears a program apart. And in an oblique manner, departed coach Jim McElwain referenced that nastiness with his “death threats” comment before he was drummed out of town – not that McElwain needed a lot of encouragement to leave.
So it hurts. Bad. Old-time Gators have to dig really deep in the archives to find anything as embarrassing or painful.
Before there was TV, my friend Whit was listening to his battery-operated radio back in his youth while walking around Lake Weir south of Ocala and he couldn’t believe the words he was hearing out of the mouth of the Florida Gator announcer he thinks was Otis Boggs.
It was 1942. Georgia had All-Americans Frankie Sinkwich and Charlie Trippi, who ran wild.
The blow-by-blow account of the Bulldogs ripping apart Whit’s beloved Gators 75-0 — still the most lopsided defeat in Florida football history – was more than he could bear. Tears began to trickle down the cheeks of the 12-year-old boy.
Whit’s hero was Billy Correy, considered the Tim Tebow figure of his day and “everybody said he could become president one day.”
Later, Correy married Whit’s sister Virginia before going off to France for World War II and losing his life.
Spurrier remembers Whit well, because when he was done with NFL football as a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, HBC came back to Gainesville and couldn’t find a job. Whit offered him one. Steve appreciated the offer, but did not accept.
On Saturday, among the thousands in Gator Nation who reached a new low point in Columbia, Mo., with the second straight embarrassing performance by their team, Whit had a flashback.
“It was a sad day,” the 88-year-old Ocalan said.
Indeed. It hurts when your favorite team plays badly and loses. Sometimes when you’re at the ballpark, you boo or swear under your breath. Or if you’re at home you throw things at the TV or maybe even turn the dang thing off.
Those low-life tweeters just go to show you that every fan base has scum.
But there’s no throwing in the towel the rest of this year, especially for the players, according to one of the all-time best ever to wear Orange and Blue.
Chris Doering’s whole career was built on persistence, hanging in there as a walk-on when things were dim, accending to All-America status and holding the record (since tied) for most touchdown pass receptions in the SEC.
Doering thinks current Gator players owe it to themselves and their coaches to play hard and finish strong “because they’re putting their resume on tape for their future.”
Doering said he didn’t appreciate playing college football right away, that he had to learn from older players “to enjoy it because it goes by quickly.” Now that he’s out of the game, Doering says he often reminds young players of that privilege while they are in college.
As for his choice as the next coach?
“I come from a perspective that’s different than most players who ever played at the University of Florida,” Doering said. “I grew up here in Gainesville. Unfortunately I’m afraid there aren’t that many people who value having played football at Florida.
“But we got spoiled by a head coach who played at Florida, won a Heisman Trophy, came back and resurrected the program. There’s nobody out there like that. So what we’re looking at (and) what’s available are not the same thing.”
It’s going to be a long winter.
Can spring come fast enough?