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Playing Dirty: Florida

This is the closest we’ll ever get to a rivalry game with the Cajuns

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

For the first time under the two new coaching regimes, the heated LSU-Florida rivalry is here. With a lot of changes to the program out East, we reached out to GatorCountry’s David Wunderlich to see what was new.

1. Well this is awkward. Both of us have new head coaches! At least the guy we fired brought us to a championship before it all fell apart. What is Dan Mullen’s lasting legacy in Gainesville? Well, aside from a three-game losing streak to Ed Orgeron.

Mullen truly earned that losing streak, and you can never take it away from him.

Mullen’s legacy was to break the cult of the offensive genius. Partially, anyway. Ever since Spurrier, a lot of Florida fans have believed that the program needs an offensive genius. This is why the fans’ antibodies immediately rejected Zook and to a lesser extent McElwain. Muschamp was an experiment with a purported defensive genius, but it turns out he was a Peter principle hire.

Addazio proved that Meyer wasn’t an offensive genius, Urban just believed in the right system at the right time. The offenses were way better with Mullen as OC, so there had long been a constituency to bring Dan back. Jeremy Foley thought he wasn’t good enough though, so it took Scott Stricklin to make it happen.

Since Mullen spent four years diligently turning Florida into Mississippi State, all of everyone now acknowledges it takes more than just drawing up good ball plays to win titles at UF. But if you don’t have a reputation as an offensive genius, lots of Gator fans will still look at you skeptically even if you get right all the stuff Mullen got wrong.

2. Since every new coaching hire is deemed a success or failure immediately, what has been your favorite Billy Napier overreaction? Has there been a petition for his buyout yet? Are some fans still yearning for Urb?

There are a lot of overreactions to choose from. The best will probably always be the freak out about recruiting after Florida lost QB Jaden Rashada to Miami.

“How does this guy keep getting punked by Cristobal? It’s not working! He better change stuff fast! Who do we need to replace in the recruiting department?” Soon after, Napier went on an absolute tear of getting blue chip commitments to quiet all that down.

But you also had “he needs to hire a play calling OC” after the Week 2 loss to Kentucky, which died down after the Tennessee game in Week 4. But then, “he needs to hire a more experienced DC” started right up after UF allowed so many points to the Vols.

Gator fans have spent the last dozen years futilely asking head coaches to stop doing things that don’t work and to please do things that other programs do that do work. There is a strong segment of the fan base that therefore believes they have to micromanage the program. Hence, every week brings a new thing to get worked up about. Napier and staff simply haven’t been around long enough to prove they can be trusted to fix the obvious.

Absolutely no one is pining for Meyer, though. He burned a ton of bridges with fans by going to Ohio State after just one year away from the sideline. Between that, Aaron Hernandez, Zach Smith, and the Jaguars debacle, he might get booed if UF tries to put him in its Ring of Honor anytime soon.

3. Although they are undefeated, it has been a pretty rough few weeks for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Explain why this is all Todd Grantham’s fault.

Once you get some Grantham in your walls, it’s real hard to get out. You’ve got to strip out all the drywall and really let it air out for a while. Maybe spray everything with bleach just to be sure. If you don’t get it exactly right the first time, you might find yourself allowing conversions on 3rd & 15, 3rd & 18, and 3rd & 22 in the waning minutes of a close game with Missouri.

4. LSU is going into the Florida game on the heels of a blowout loss for the third year in a row. Is it insulting to be considered LSU’s “get right” team? Or is it a compliment that in order to beat Florida the Tigers need to take a sabbatical the week prior?

It’s the highest compliment that LSU is looking ahead to the Florida game every year and doesn’t take the game the week before seriously. And UF has returned the favor by not taking the LSU game itself seriously either. At least, not on defense.

5. Even though both teams are unranked and won’t be contending for a national title this year, both new regimes will restore the programs to their former glory sooner rather than later. Championship contention is just a shoe’s throw- I mean a stone’s throw away.

Anything that ends the reigns of Coach Bad Hair Color and Coach Bad Haircut can only be seen as a good thing.