After Missouri’s 45-16 beatdown of the Gators, there’s a lot of blame to go around on both sides of the ball.
There may have been a new coach in Randy Shannon, but it was the same old offensive gameplan Saturday. Florida strung together drives that ended in punts or field goals. The defense was carved up from start to finish against one of the better offenses in the SEC. According to a statistic Alligator sports editor Matt Brannon dug up, the Gators gave up at least 42 points in consecutive weeks for the first time since 1917.
It’s pretty clear that if the team hasn’t hit rock bottom, this is about as close as it gets.
While many Gators fans are already looking toward the program's next head coach and 2018 season, the outcome of these last three games are pivotal for persuading potential coaching candidates.
Names on many wish-lists include Dan Mullen, Scott Frost and Willie Taggart.
But Florida has to prove there are still remnants of a good team to convince those coaches to leave their current jobs.
Mullen — Mississippi State’s coach who has a reputation for developing quarterbacks like Dak Prescott and Alex Smith — is in the midst of a 7-2 season with a top-20 ranked SEC program. In his ninth season coaching the Bulldogs, what makes everyone think that he’s willing to leave a place where he’s already established himself and created success?
Frost — UCF’s coach who looks like the cool guy you wish was your dad and is known around the college football world as the next big thing — is leading an undefeated Knights team to a possible conference title. Offense is Frost’s forte, as UCF ranks first in the nation in scoring offense at 48.5 points per game. While it’s clear what he can do with a struggling program, does he want to take that on once again? Also, his alma mater, Nebraska, is a program rumored to be seeking his services. In that case, Frost can take over a team that ranks 85th in scoring offense instead of UF, which ranks 114th (and garbage time touchdowns have helped that statistic out).
Although Taggart hasn’t had the same success with the 5-5 Oregon Ducks, he might not move to the SEC so easily. The Ducks got off to a promising start in 2017, winning four of their first five games before starting quarterback Justin Herbert went down with an injury that has derailed their season. And Oregon is still a Power Five school that is bringing in the No. 6 2018 recruiting class according to 247Sports, one spot ahead of Florida’s No. 7 class.
All I’m saying is that while the season is a wash and the Gators aren’t playing for a big bowl game, they still need to utilize these three final games to showcase that the next coach can use some of the pieces already in place to not completely rebuild, but rather retool.
Otherwise, Florida is going to get rocked by UAB and that head coaching position will look oh-so promising, right?
Skyler Lebron is a sports writer. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him @SkylerLebron.