Tallahassee – Florida still has one game left in 2010, but rebuilding for next season starts now.
That was the message coach Urban Meyer emphatically delivered during his press conference after Florida State’s 31-7 drubbing of UF in Doak Campbell Stadium. The Gators (7-5, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) lost to the Seminoles (9-3, 6-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) and lost five games in a season for the first time in Meyer’s tenure. This is also the first five-loss regular season since 1988.
“The fix starts tomorrow – recruiting,” Meyer said. “I have a lot of confidence in a lot of players in our program. In '07 we had probably, not this bad, but ‘07 was not a good year and those guys got a little -- there was a little bit of anger and edge to them. They came back and obviously with that great leadership on that ‘08 team and great talent they came back and won it all. I'm not putting us in that category because we're certainly not, but there's one way to do it and it's hard work and go rebuild it. How do you rebuild it? Tough-ass players and tough-ass coaches.”
Meyer said his coaching staff will hit the road Sunday and immediately turn their focus to bringing in as many tough-ass players as they possibly can.
As for whether or not he has the tough-ass coaches he needs to return UF to the top of the SEC, Meyer declined to discuss any possible changes.
Defensive line coach Dan McCarney has reportedly been offered the head coaching job at North Texas, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle, though Meyer said he is unaware of said offer. And Steve Addazio has endured heavy criticism for his part in the team’s struggles this season, but Meyer has always publicly supported his offensive coordinator.
Addazio’s offense again laid an egg against FSU, generating only 276 yards of total offense and 64 passing yards while utilizing the three-quarterback system. It was the third time this season the Gators failed to crack double-digits.
“It's immediacy, but it’s also University of Florida and University of Florida expects to be an elite program and right now we dipped a little bit,” Meyer said of rebuilding. “I also want to take care of our seniors so we're going to go do the best we can to win this bowl game. Obviously we're not real good at spots. But at times we looked real good.”
The Gators are most likely heading for a Music City Bowl or Gator Bowl berth, and though the rallying cry since being knocked out of the SEC Championship Game has been sending the seniors out on a high note, there is a sense of obligations for those seniors to help pass down a winning tradition to the younger players.
“We are just going to get healthy, prepare like we know how to prepare for a bowl game, and help these young guys get back on track for their next season coming up next year,” senior center Mike Pouncey said. “Obviously we have been here when it was good times and through these bad times we have to show these young guys how to get better and improve as players.”