By: Nick Joost (@juicyjoost)
I had a strange thought after the Georgia game walking back to my tailgate outside of EverBank Field…
It’s been just over a month since the Gators have chomped on the sweet taste of victory. The month of October has been one of horror and disgust for the Florida faithful during the Will Muschamp era. In his three seasons as head coach, Florida is a staggering 4-7 overall in October.
Coming out of a 23-20, heartbreaking, oh-so-close, defeat at the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs, the once Mighty Gators now sit at 4-4 with serious concerns of bowl-eligibility hanging in the balance.
As the strange thought popped into my mind after the game, it led me to search for this interesting, non-football related statistic:
“Roughly 4,000,000 babies across America are born every year—that hat averages out to just over 300,000 per month.”
You may see where I’m going with this… Yep, an estimated 300,000 babies have been born around America this past month, and a Gator victory has occurred as many times in their lives as Miley Cyrus has ever been called a classy, mild mannered young lady. My mind tends to work in bizarre ways when the Gators are struggling like this. It can’t be good for my health.
You are reading the blog of a depressed, exhausted, and downright disappointed Gator fan. With the third straight loss to the ‘Dawgs, a team that for countless times in the past 20 years left Jacksonville with agonizing sorrow of defeat, any possibility of Florida turning its season around and keeping its hopes alive for an SEC Title berth have vanished.
Georgia lost seven games in a row to Florida in the 1990’s, and then lost six in a row from 1998-2003. For a team like Georgia, with a very proud fan base and a program so rich in tradition, to suffer a losing streak like that, I can only imagine how terrible it must have felt. This three year slide for the Gators already feels almost unbearable, although miniscule compared to Georgia’s struggles of the 90s.
Perhaps the tables have been turned in this rivalry. Gator fans must realize that this is no longer a game in which Florida will show up and pound Georgia for 60 minutes anymore. And I only say this for one reason: In was absolutely clear which fan base wanted it more, as I sat inside of EverBank. The Georgia fans stood and shouted their heads off for the entire game, while Florida fans didn’t even match the Georgia fans’ intensity until the 4th quarter when the game became a nail biter.
While you may say, “of course the Gator fans wouldn’t be fired up with Georgia leading 17-0 after the first quarter,” I will tell you that on the first drive of the game, every single Gator fan in my section was sitting down silently. The only emotion they could muster up was hollering at me every time I tried to stand up and cheer.
College football is a game of emotion, and the crowd certainly factors in to what goes happens on the field. And I thought that the University of Florida was widely known for having a rabid fan base. I understand that UF alumni like to sit and enjoy the game to themselves (enjoy probably not the right word), but when I looked over to the Georgia side and saw at least 75% of their fans standing and making noise, I thought to myself something that no Gator fan should ever think:
“Those Georgia fans flat out want this game more than we do.” It’s appearing more and more to me like this is the game of the year for Bulldog fans, not for the Gators. Especially this year’s game; one that kept the winner alive in the SEC East race, and sent the loser an envelope of tourist brochures for cities like Nashville and Memphis.
Not to be mistaken, Georgia won this game because they had better players on the field. But once again I was very disappointed with the lack of enthusiasm and passion from the Gator fans during the early parts of the game.
Florida plays Vanderbilt tomorrow in The Swamp at noon. The Swamp will not be sold out once again, and Gator fans are down on the team. I’m down on the team too. We don’t accept these kinds of seasons at Florida, and we shouldn’t. If there was ever any doubt before the Cocktail Party, the ‘Muschamp hot seat’ is at the minimum a very warm seat. Brent Pease will probably be fired after the season unless Florida is able to beat South Carolina or FSU, in my opinion. I think firing Pease would be justifiable, as Florida still can’t crack the top 100 in total offense. The injuries to key players on offense certainly has a lot to do with it, but with the kind of money Pease makes, the Gator offense should still be able to compete in ball games.
12 years ago, a Rex Grossman-led Gator offense dropped a 71-point bomb on the Commodores of Vanderbilt. Those days are long gone and sorely missed.
I expect tomorrow’s game to be tightly contested—and I seriously doubt that the combined score of the game will even reach 71. It doesn’t matter how Florida does it. Even if it can win 3-2, the mission is accomplished. It’s a must win for the Gators, because its 22 year bowl streak will almost certainly end with a Vanderbilt victory.
Gator fans, it’s been a disappointing season—one that started with a top 10 ranking, to .500 record. Whatever you feel about the coaching staff, good or bad, it is your right to feel that way. I think Muschamp’s days may be numbered in 2014 if he cannot lead the Gators back to a season that fits the standard that Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer set.
But the season is not over yet. I hope Gator fans rally around this team that brought us an incredible run in 2012. We have four games remaining, with a November 30 date with FSU approaching. The one positive thing I took from the Georgia game was the fact that this team has not and will not quit for Muschamp or themselves. They do take pride in being football players at Florida. Let’s take pride in being Gator fans and support our team the rest of the way out.
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