By Shannon Snell – OnlyGators.com Featured Columnist
I had hope. I had faith. Unfortunately, when it comes to the 2014 Florida Gators, both of those are now gone. As an alumnus and former Florida player, I ultimately believed the Gators’ ills would be corrected, the program would get turned this year. At this point, there is no kidding myself anymore. Florida will go nowhere under the continued leadership of Will Muschamp.
You have heard Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer say this before but there is a rule of thumb that if a team plays well in all three phases of the game – offense, defense, special teams – the percentage chance that team wins said game is very high. Play poorly in one of these areas, your chance of winning goes down drastically but is not eliminated. Screw up in two phases, you have almost no chance to survive…and that is exactly what happened Saturday night.
Defensively, the Gators were great on Saturday. Hell, they were plain out dominant. Allowing only 119 yards is great for a Pop Warner football game, let alone in a big-time college conference like the SEC. But as usual, Florida’s offense failed; in a surprising new twist, special teams was equally as awful, not just giving up two return touchdowns but also seeing a significant regression at punter. You cannot win a football game when you fail in so many ways.
Muschamp’s entire career has been based off the age-old premise of “defense wins championships.” Well, the former – and potentially future – defensive coordinator has learned some hard lessons over the last few years, namely that a teams must be three-dimensional, not one-dimensional.
Again, as a biased backer of the Gators, a player who fully invested myself in the program and put my education and future in the hands of the great University of Florida, I hoped Muschamp would succeed. I saw him as a great, young defensive coordinator – and a local product – who had great passion for football and a vision for the future of the program. I was a fan of Texas football for a long stretch of my life, and I previously saw him as one of the driving forces behind Mack Brown’s success. It was exciting for me when Muschamp was hired ahead of the 2011 season.
Now, looking back on the hire, I should have tempered my expectations and remembered that there are plenty of quality coordinators that simply do not have that extra head coaching gear.
Here’s the bottom line, a phrase Muschamp loves to use: the head coach at Florida is not winning football games. The ones he does pull out are by the skin of his teeth. Watching the Gators is now a painful chore instead of an uplifting experience. It’s time to repeat a thought I tweeted after the game, one I nearly deleted but wound up keeping on my timeline: it’s time for Muschamp to go.
That’s how I feel as a former player and an alumnus. I am not proud of the product on the field. I will always support Florida football, but I cannot get behind a Muschamp-led Gators team.
I hope Florida finds the motivation to play well next Saturday against Georgia. I hope the game is competitive. There is nothing I want more than for the Gators to win that rivalry game, but win or lose that week or any week going forward, Muschamp’s future with Florida – or lack thereof – should already be sealed. He’s done.
Things cannot get worse for the Gators on the field, so whether Muschamp remains in his role through the end of the season or not, Jeremy Foley better be doing whatever he can in his office to make sure things start getting better as soon as the final whistle sounds in Tallahassee, Florida, on Nov. 29.
A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell joined OnlyGators.com in 2012 as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team. He is now in his third year sharing his musings and will do so through the 2014 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 of those contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.