Gator Fans, Be Patient. The Time Will Come.
Who could ever forget the Florida Gators' glory years from 2005-2009, when we fans witnessed two national titles? We had a coach who instilled a ferocious attacking offense and a quarterback who utilized it perfectly. Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow were the perfect duo, as their success on the field left Gator fans extremely spoiled and, in the end, wanting more.
Surely, they were going to go for the repeat in the 2009 season. after winning it all the previous year. But instead, those hopes were crushed as the Alabama Crimson Tide demolished the Gators in SEC championship game. After that, Tebow graduated, the Gators had a mediocre season, and Meyer left the program.
Along came Muschamp who was considered one of the top defensive coordinators in the country. As the new head coach, he did fulfill one expectation: make Florida a tough defensive squad. There’s nothing wrong with having great defense. How did the offense do? Well, let’s just say what we saw on the field under Muschamp was a lot different than what we saw under Meyer, and overdependent on a decent, but not great run. They did have an 11-game winning season, which was basically dependent on a strong defensive unit and clutch kicking. The offense, other than a pretty good running game, was pretty much non-existent and that price was paid in the end. The Gators were picked to play in the Sugar Bowl and were expected to blow out their opponent, the Louisville Cardinals. What happened instead was an interception on the first throw that led to Louisville scoring the game’s first touchdown and an eventual shocking victory.
It left a bitter taste in Gator fans’ mouths. “How could that happen? We’re Florida! We’re supposed to win everything!”
That season was proven to be a fluke. Florida posted a 4-8 record the next season, with the low point being a shocking loss to Georgia Southern. It was the first time that the Gators ever lost to an FCS opponent. At that very moment, the Gators became the laughing stock of college football--and rightfully so.
Florida had a slightly better season the next year, though it still wasn’t great by any means. The offense was still terrible and there was just very little fight in a lot of the games. Their mediocre record, along with the inept offense, eventually led to Muschamp’s firing. The defense was always great under him. But the lack of offense did not help.
Through it all, Gator fans quickly learned a very harsh lesson: just because you’re on top does not mean you will stay there forever. Eventually, you’re going to have to come down and you will suffer the reality of being mediocre. No wants to go through it, but that’s just how it is in sports. In some cases like Duke basketball, it feels like forever. But nothing lasts forever. So be thankful for the glory years and look back on them proudly when they end.
The Meyer and Tebow era, as mentioned before, left Gator fans extremely spoiled. We witnessed a great run. We thought our team could be invincible forever. We were caught in the moment and didn’t even consider that our team would fall back when they left. We didn’t want it to happen. We refused to believe it would happen.But it happened. And in the end, it humbled us. Well, it humbled me at least. I learned to appreciate those glory years even more. What a heck of a ride that was.
Enter the Jim McElwain era. So far, as what happens on the field has yet to be seen, McElwain has proven that he knows how to recruit. He brought in a very solid recruiting class which brought the Gators up around 70 spots in the recruiting rankings. The highlights of that recruiting class were the signings of the top OT recruit in the nation in Martez Ivey and the second best DE recruit in CeCe Jefferson. Those signings don’t automatically make the Gators contenders. What they do is indicate a bright future for the program.
No one knows how the Gators will do in 2015 and it’s absolutely unfair to expect McElwain to just turn them into title contenders in his first season. This is a roster that, while decent, still has a lot of work to be done. The potential is there, though, we just have to be patient and hopefully our patience pays off.
Remember though, in the end, it’s always great to be a Florida Gator!