Florida, high and low

John Pennington has written a post about SEC parity that serves as a pretty good retort to Bret Bielema’s Big Ten bravado.  One point in particular jumped out at me:

When you think of the best football programs in the nation, Florida probably comes to mind.  But the Gators have lost four or more games six times in the last 13 years.

Pennington sees that as evidence of how tough the SEC is, and that’s a fair observation.  Also, to Florida’s credit, let’s not forget a couple of national titles tucked in that time frame.  But the other thing that indicates is a level of inconsistency that, to my mind, is surprising, given the advantageous recruiting base the Gators start with year in and year out.  How much of that can you pin on the coaching?  The Zooker is responsible for half of those sub-par years by his lonesome, Corch gets credit for a couple and Boom’s got one, too.  (For comparison’s sake, Spurrier had two four-loss seasons in twelve years at UF.)

Nothing snide meant here – let’s face it, the first comeback a Gator fan can throw at me is that Florida hasn’t had a losing season in any of those thirteen years, which is something we at Georgia can’t claim.  I’m just wondering if the SEC is really that tough or if Florida’s program has underachieved a bit.  What do y’all think?

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23 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., SEC Football

23 responses to “Florida, high and low

  1. Rebar

    I think Corch dropped the ball in recruiting and Boom is trying to fix it. I still don’t see all the love for Florida, that bowl game last year was embarrasing for the SEC.

  2. UFTimmy

    Coaching turnover causes bad seasons. Look at how tough it was for you guys just to switch a defensive coordinator.

    And Zook was just a bad coach.

    I think it points to the instability of the program since Spurrier left more than anything.

    • Darrron Rovelll

      There are a lot of programs in the country that would have taken UF’s instability in the post Spurrier years. I think it just shows how dominant a coach Spurrier was during his time at UF and how the conference has upgraded the coaching talent roster since that time.

    • Russ

      Yeah I have to agree with Timmy. Coaching changes are very disruptive.

  3. Go Dawgs!

    Florida? One of the best programs in the nation? This just goes to show writers just recognize logos and helmets. The Gators fell off at the end of Urban and what has Muschamp done? Navigate a comparatively easy SEC schedule last season in good enough shape for a Sugar Bowl berth?

  4. I think the SEC really is that tough, but Florida as a single data point isn’t proof of that. The better evidence would be in the sheer number of teams who have risen to the top. Of the SEC’s nine BCS titles, they were won by five different teams. The Big Ten has only had one team even reach the title game (Ohio State, three times). In fact, only one other conference has had more than two teams play for the title:

    ACC: Florida State (1 title)
    Big East: Virginia Tech and Miami (1 title)
    Pac 12: USC and Oregon (1 title)
    Big 12: Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma (2 titles)

    A few other ways to look at that:

    Prior to last year’s expansion to 14, the SEC was one team shy of HALF the league having won a national title in the brief BCS era.
    In the SEC, three different teams have won as many national titles as any other conference.
    In the past five seasons, the SEC has had twenty 10-game winners. The Big Ten has had 13.
    Bielema accounts for only two of those, which is fewer than Richt, Saban, Miles and Petrino each.

    Or the shorter version: of all the metrics Pennington could have chosen, the one he did use was not the best choice.

  5. Macallanlover

    You don’t have to demean Florida to point out they have been less consistent in winning than UGA during the Richt era. I think both have won a couple of SEC titles in that time, and both have had a couple of seasons where they fell short of expectations along with a couple where they surprised to the upside. The view that UGA has been an underforming team is silly given the number of 10 win, and Top 10 seasons the Dawgs have had. And Florida has done this with the weakest OOC schedule in the SEC.

    The media lovefest with Florida is hard to understand and is more attributable to the high profile they had during the Spurrier years, he was better PR wise and got them more attention. Georgia has been more consistent in the past 12 years but unable to overcome the disasterous Goff period when the WWL was getting their stranglehold on CFB. It certainly isn’t because their coaches or fans are likable people. They are a very good program but not worthy of the ongoing lovefest from voters and media they seem to receive. More deserving than Notre Dame and Ohio State, but like USC they tend to be overrated most years.

    Alabama is enjoying much of the same overhype when viewed beyond the past 3-4 years. I love college football but the hyperbole the media assigns to certain programs and players is annoying, it would be nice to see a balanced approach by one of the primary media outletes. If you took FBomb out of the Sirius College channel that is usually a very pleasant discussion of CFB.

    • I agree that Bama is enjoying a significant amount of benefit of the doubt (looking forward to the day when talking heads actually factor in returning experience on the line with the same attention they do returning QB). I don’t understand the idea of saying you need to look back past the last 3-4 years (though I would say beyond five, as the Tide has won 10 or more games in each of the past five seasons) to see that the Tide is overhyped. Also, I would disagree with the idea that UGA has been more consistent than Florida, either recently (past five years) or longer (past ten). In the past five years, UGA has the distinction of being the only team with a losing season, the only team without a 13-win season (UF has two), and the only team to win 11 or more only once (Both Bama and UF have done it 3 times in that span). If you seeded seasons worst to best like a tennis match, UF finishes 5-0 against UGA.
      I’m not saying this to criticize UGA. They are a strong SEC team that represents the conference very well. But there’s a reason UF enjoys more attention right now, and you don’t have to go back to Spurrier to find it.

      • Macallanlover

        No problem, we all different ways we analyze games, stats, etc. You guys are on top and deserve to be feared at this point, but we both probably agree that no one dominates the SEC, even when they win a title. Alabama doesn’t have to be hyped, they are capable of being a favorite on their own but I feel they were dominant twice in this century, as was Florida and LSU. The only season where we could make a case of being a dominent team was 2002. That is 7 times total in the 13 season of 2000 through last year. It is fair to say most titles in this conference are earned through grit and working through the close ones. I can excuse the one brain lapse on any particular Saturday, but few SEC teams should expect an easy road regardless of how much the media feel they should be unbeatable.

        For the consistency discussion, it all about how you slice and dice the numbers. Both LSU and UGA had 8 seasons where they won 10 or more games and only two where they had as many as five losses. Florida had 6 seasons where they won 10 or more and 5 where they lost five games. Alabama had six years where they won 10 or more and two disaster years (not counting the vacated wins seasons) where they lost eight games once and nine games once. That is why I say UGA is as consistent as any SEC team in the most outstanding conference in football, and we play a better OOC schedule than Florida almost every year. Florida was ahead of most SEC teams in the 90s because Spurrier put an offensive scheme in that changed the conference from being as uncreative as the Big 10. It also made SEC defenses have to get better. But they don’t have that edge now, no team has, but someone grabs that advantage for a year or two at the most. Then they become the media darling for a while. I see 2013 as another where anyone of 4-5 teams can win depending on timing of injuries and a good/bad bounce here or there. At this point I see TAMU and Alabama as favorites in the West with LSU and Ole Miss playing a role as darkhorses. I see UGA and SC as favorites in the East with Florida as a dark horse. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone went undefeated but don’t see anyone breezing through the schedule and dominating everyone. Good luck to your team, I hope we get to play again in Atlanta.

        • I can say with a certainty that I would not look forward to a rematch with UGA. Or rather, that I will have a healthy dose of respect for the game that will be played and an unhealthy amount of trepidation about the possible outcome. The 2012 game will likely stand for a long time as the best SEC championship game ever played. I’m not sure my heart could withstand a repeat. I think Bama’s schedule should make them the favorite in the West (an entire off-season plus a bye week with only a transitioning Va Tech team in between means Bama should be better prepared for A&M this year). I am really curious about the East. USCe will likely be the media favorite because of Clowney, but if Georgia can successfully take advantage of inexperienced talent on defense (isn’t that the last remaining question with Grantham?), the rematch could easily set itself up. I’m not ready to write off Florida, though. They’ll be really solid on defense I believe, and I think a second season with Pease will help at least a little on offense. The loss of Gillislee with no real plus no line depth should doom them to “so close” again, though.

          • Macallanlover

            Pretty much the way I see the two divisions as well. I think the UGA/SC game will be the deciding faactor in the East. I like that matchup for us, at this point, but a long way to go for both teams to really know which way it will go. I also like Alabama against TAMU but man, Kyle Field will be rocking for that one. Can’t wait to see it.

  6. Irishdawg

    “I think Corch dropped the ball in recruiting and Boom is trying to fix it.”

    Meyer dropped the ball in team discipline. It seems he recruited many very talented players with very questionable character and then let them do whatever the hell they wanted. I don’t know if the story about Percy Harvin dictating the team conditioning is true, but it says a lot about Meyer’s discipline if it is.

  7. Bulldog Joe

    Florida has flipped offensive coordinators twice since Dan Mullen left. That, as much as anything has led to Florida’s drop off in recruiting and performance.

    • The other Doug

      Florida OCs-
      2008- Mullen
      2009- Addazio
      2010- Addazio
      2011- Weis
      2012- Pease

      That is a lot of turnover, and a lot of new ideas to learn.

  8. Hogbody Spradlin

    Just by population and stature in the state Florida should recruit top level every year. They’re going through the same issues they had for decades before Spurrier got there. They can’t get out of their own way. Excuse me while I shed a tear.

  9. Cojones

    Further, it doesn’t make a big rat’s ass what I perceive of FU since ESPN will only prop them up. Let’s jus’ go whip their butts with zest this season.

    Overhype is the skewer of perception. If you can’t look at another team’s players through the eyes of their fans a few times, you will never know when the hype starts and the truth of their fears begin. We all take insulated looks at our teams, drink the funny water and roll in the pundit’s lavish praise like an old dog rolling in a dead carcass, but deep down our fears about a player or two and a coaching mistake or two in the arena may at any time expose our weak underbelly. That’s why we nearly die during games; it’s in the anticipation that we won’t finish the game before being exposed. First take their team to heart (like UGA and Bama reciprocate good team comments sometimes ), then match those players objectively. You then can realize that their fans are as afraid that you will find their weakness as we are of them finding ours. Hype be damned; you now can get that indication before games (that you know isn’t based on hype) that leads to a realistic expectation for your team.

    An example of the overhype was by ESPN for painting LSU and Bama as unbeatable for several years. Saban saw it for what it was and always entreats his players to be alert to the other team beating them in a heartbeat. It doesn’t always work since I really thought we would put Bama down last year, but for the last two years and this year I thought we would and will thump FU sans their ESPN hype. Looks like the team and coaches agreed with me so far.

  10. Mayor of Dawgtown

    I’m no UF fan but you’ve got to give them their due. The Gators won 2 National Championships (and 2 SEC Championships) in 3 years and if they could have gotten past Bama in 2009 would have won 3 in a 4 year span. Since Tebow left they have not been as good but if Cam doesn’t steal a laptop they probably would have had 2 more BCS trophies. When you add in the accomplishments of the Gators during the Spurrier era it has been a really great run. I’m certainly not peeing on their accomplishments the last 24 years. This string is sounding a little too much like sour grapes.

    • Macallanlover

      Not surprised by this from you, worship at the feet of the gators and whine all you like. You and the others that lay down for them have had your day. Go cry about the location some more, shows the level of understanding you have about football. We will never win again, the sky is falling, our players are worn out from the long trip and not sleeping in their own beds with their own pillows, etc., etc. Man up wimp. You can respect them for being a quality opponent without getting on your knees.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Good Lord have you become a curmudgeon of late, Mac. I hate the Gators more than anybody but I will give the devils their due. Maybe if you take you nose out of Spurrier’s ass and you’ll be able to comprehend more. It broke your heart when he left Gatorland so much it looks like you’ll never get over it, all that golf you and he used to play together down there.

        • Cojones

          Mayor, I’m not speaking as if in a majority in blaming ESPN for overhype, especially against FU. Mine is not a fan hatred sort of dissent, but rather what I see vs what many write and don’t attempt to see. Their record is a BS reason to praise them prematurely as pundits many times do. We are talking about next year’s possibilities, not bringing up memories of the recent decades. Past record has nothing to do with assessing players present now that give a clue to their team’s chances. And FU ain’t got it!

          It may have been Hogbody, but I thought that you predicted an 8-5 season for FU this season. All of our discussions are BS until they play, but I prefer to put my money where my sentiments lie- on the Dawgs (as has been the case for the last two years). This year’s game has already been bet with an FU alum that I hang with oftentimes. If ESPN keeps on insisting, probably 3-1, 2-1 odds may be obtained vs FU as we draw near to the first seasonal game. I’m OK with that.

          • Mayor of Dawgtown

            I am a known Gator-hater. I am on record as saying that FU will win only 8 games next season and I really believe that. I certainly hope that, too. However, I draw the line at pretending our main division rival did not win games and championships in the past as some are doing above in an effort to artificially pump up UGA. The reality is that FU won 2 BCSNCs and nearly won a 3rd in the space of 4 years. If you add the MNC they won in ’96 that is 3 natties in a little more than 10 years. How many did UGA win during that period? You know the answer to that one. Since we’re on this subject, how many BCSNCs have all of our main rivals won since the BCS got started? Bama (3), FU(2), LSU (2), Auburn (1-and had an undefeated season another time) and UT (1). I like where the UGA program is right now and am optimistic about the future. But let’s not engage in revisionist history in a false attempt to make ourselves feel superior. Bama, FU, LSU and Auburn have all had multiple 13 win seasons recently. Bama and Auburn each have had 14 win seasons (Auburn had 2). The highest win total that UGA has has since 2002 is one 12 win season last year. the Dawgs also had a 6-7 season in 2010. Saying that “UGA is as consistent as any team in the most outstanding conference in football” is total horseshit. But when one considers the source I guess it should not be unexpected, though.