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Welcome to the SEC Championship Game edition of my random thoughts. As always, please remember that no two thoughts are meant to offer a cohesive platform, and each should be evaluated based upon their own merits.
The Totally Random
—The regular season now compares with only 2 other seasons in UF football history. It is the second best regular season in school history, and tied for the most wins in the regular season in school history. With a win over Ohio State in the Championship Game this season will go down as the most successful season in UF history. That is unbelievable to even comprehend.
1995 12-0 (finished 12-1)(regular season 11-0) National Champion Runner-Up
1996 11-1 (finished 12-1)(regular season 10-1) National Champion
—Here is the updated coaching comparison. The wins keep coming.
Coaching Record Comparison between Spurrier and Meyer
Spurrier Overall (156-50-2) (.755)
Spurrier through first 72 games (50-21-1) (.701)
Meyer Overall (first 72 games) (60-12) (.833)
Spurrier Florida (122-27-1) (.817)
Meyer Florida (21-4) (.840)
Spurrier the Comparable Florida Years
(took over a 7-5 Florida team)
(12 seasons, 2 One loss seasons, 2 NC attempts, 1 NC, 6 SEC Championships)
1990 Florida (9-2)
1991 Florida (10-2)
Meyer Florida Years
(took over a 7-5 Florida team)
(2 seasons, 1 one loss season, 1 NC attempt, 1 SEC Championship)
2005 Florida (9-3)
2006 Florida (12-1)
—Spurrier won 6 SEC Championships as a coach for the Gators. Meyer has won 1 to become the only Coach not named Spurrier to do so.
—Florida broke the school record for blocked kicks in a season when Fayson blocked the punt, bringing the total to 8 blocked kicks in total.
—Florida has 20 interceptions on the season. That is the 4th most in school history and only 4 behind the record.
—Leak broke Danny Wuerffel’s passing yard mark, and now stands at an even 11,000 yards. He also has an even 100 TD’s when you combine his passing and rushing TD’s.
Random BCS Garbage
—The BCS Mess Wrap-up
I believe that they made the right choice, but the process is still wrong, IMO. Football should not be treated like figure skating. Yes, they made the right choice with the information that was available to make the judgment, but I still think that it is unfair that choices like this need to be made, because you can not know for sure. Case and point, Boise State, Louisville, Michigan, Wisconsin, etc. There is just not enough info available to say that they are not worthy. I understand that in some cases the fault is on the teams for not scheduling high quality opponents, but that is impossible to do, because you do not know year in and out who will be good in advance. Any team that plays a Big Ten or SEC schedule should reasonably expect that they will face high quality opponents most of the season, but in the case of the Big Ten this year the gap between the have’s and the have not’s was greater than in most comparable years, and I believe that a system that chooses a team based upon things that they can not control will always open itself up to criticism, and a feeling that somebody was not given a fair shot to win. I think a playoff is a must, and they need to get it done now.
BTW, this whole mess would not have happened if the coaches and Harris pollsters had not been so influenced by the outcome of a loss and the media saying that Michigan should get another crack. Michigan should have dropped at least 2 or 3 spots, like every team in history has done after a loss. It may be an imperfect practice, but I can’t remember a precedent where you lose and you are exactly where you were the week before. What is the point of playing the game if the result doesn’t matter?
When Florida lost to FSU in 1996 we dropped and had to work our way back to number 2 in order to get our shot. Had Michigan dropped when they were supposed to, I doubt anyone would be griping that the coaches or Harris pollsters flip flopped their opinions, because they did not want to see a rematch in the Championship Game. Just 3 weeks earlier, certain ESPN pundits voiced their opinions (which have been wrong all year) so strongly, that it manipulated some coaches and media into thinking that they were right. That really changed the landscape. Michigan moving down after 2 bye weeks was the right adjustment in my opinion. In the meantime, we added to our resume with a win over the #9 BCS team, and other teams on our resume also improved their stock. Just because Michigan’s season was over, did not mean that we could not do more to improve or that other teams around us could not be judged differently. If that was the case, than the season should have ended right there, and Michigan should be in the game (not).
The only thing that Michigan can claim to support why they should be in the game over us, is that they lost to a better team than we did. Isn’t that what Notre dame did last year? The fact is that they are talking about the 3 point differential as being a badge of courage, but the game was always a 2 score game until the end. Conversely, our score against Auburn looks more lopsided because of a final play that was only scored because we were trying to strike on a miracle play. Of course a bad call helped, and if made properly, would have likely led to us taking the lead late in the game, and could have changed the entire course of the way the remainder of the game was played. Here are the final resumes, as I see them.
—Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops will become the first to coach in all four “original” BCS games — Tostitos Fiesta, FedEx Orange, Rose and Allstate Sugar.
—Of course you all understand my disdain for Notre Dame football by now, but how much of a joke is it that an 11th ranked BCS team (which is too high IMO, anyway) qualifies for a big-time bowl over deserving teams like Auburn and Wisconsin? The system needs to be put to death, but the good news is the SEC and LSU get to hand Notre Dame their annual Bowl thumping.
—The Coaches (of note)Poll Breakdown
Florida: Amato, Beamer, B. Bowden, T. Bowden, Callahan, Coker, Croom, Dickey, Fulmer, Miles, Nutt, O’Brien, Petrino, Richt, Rodriguez, Schnellenberger, Spurrier, Stoops, Tedford, Tuberville, Willingham, Zook
Michigan: M. Brown, Carr, O’Leary, Schiano, Weis
We had many more of the bigger name coaches in our court, and outpaced Michigan 44 to 18 overall, with Tressel’s abstention.
Random BCS National Championship Game Notes
—The Tale of the Tape (OSU vs. UF)...
Strength of Schedule
Ohio State 42 (66-57)
UF 1 (81-46)
Top 5 Teams Played, BCS Rank, Home/Away/Neutral, Record, and Outcome:
UF: LSU (4)(H)(10-2)(W), Auburn(9)(A)(10-2)(L), Arkansas (12)(N)(10-3)(W), Tennessee (17)(A)(9-3)(W), Georgia (29)(N)(8-4)(W)
Ohio State: Michigan (3)(H)(11-1)(W), Texas (19)(A)(9-3)(W), Penn State (26)(H)(8-4)(W), Cincinnati (NR)(H)(7-5)(W), Northern Illinois (NR)(H)(7-5)(W)
Coaching Records (D1-a Only)
Meyer: (60-12) .833 overall, 3-0 in bowl games, 6-0 on neutral fields, 10-0 after an open week
Tressel: (50-15) .769 overall, 4-1 in bowl games, 4-1 on neutral fields, 5-5 after an open week
Average Points, Yards, Offensive TD’s
Florida 28.8 points on 398.1 yards and 48 TD’s
Ohio State 36.3 points on 409.8 yards and 55 TD’s
Average Points Allowed, Yards Allowed, Defensive Passer Efficiency Rating, and Yards Per Carry Allowed
Florida 13.5 on 268.8 yards with a 49.14 opponent passer rating, and 2.8 ypc allowed
Ohio State 10.4 points on 273 yards with a 81.34 opponent passer rating, and 3.3 ypc allowed
Top 5 Defenses Faced(ranked by yardage)
Florida: 2, 9, 15, 18, 25
Ohio State: 6, 16, 22, 32, 38
Top 5 Offenses Faced (ranked by yardage)
Florida: 18, 28, 32, 34, 36
Ohio State: 23, 29, 33, 40, 48
Top 5 Opponents Record versus Top 25 Teams (not including game versus Florida or Ohio State)
Ohio State: (5-7)
—Why We Will Win.
An Urban Meyer coached team is 12-1 when playing in a game with more than 1 week to prepare. His 1 defeat to Miami (OH) while he was at Bowling Green, was avenged the following year 72-21. He is also undefeated in bowl games (3-0). Tressel is 5-5 under the same circumstances and (4-1) in Bowl games. The biggest thing that we will have going for us for the first time in awhile is health. I think that will play a huge factor in this game. Harvin, Wynn, Everett, Siler, Baker, Rissler, Tartt, Cornelius, Moore, and many others have been banged up, or out for awhile. Having all back and close to 100% will make things much more fluid for us, both offensively and defensively. Harvin and Wynn, in particular, were banged up throughout the entire middle of the season. As their health goes, so goes the offense. Both are expected to be 100% for the bowl game. Our defense also went through a huge adjustment the past 5 weeks. Our 2 best linebackers were playing hurt or not at all. Both are expected to be close to 100% for the Bowl game. Also, while losing Marcus Thomas had set us back initially, it looks like Harris, Antwine, and Cohen are finally comfortable and making plays in his absence.
I give us a great shot, and I think we have faced the greater tests this year. OSU’s biggest test was Michigan, who only played ND and Wisconsin, both who beat nobody. Ohio State had a great season, but the game against Texas, where they played against a Freshman QB playing his first game ever, does not look so good now, and like I said, we don’t truly know who the Michigan team was that they played. OSU and Michigan have both benefited in perception from vastly overrated Texas and Notre Dame squad’s and the small circle of common opponents that each has played. In contrast, Florida has played tough teams, who have also played tough teams all year long, and Florida battled, and could be undefeated, if not for a bad call in the Auburn game.
It should be fun, but I think we will surprise everyone. We have some very talented skill players on offense and people don’t realize it, because we have been sloppy or unfortunate at times. We won’t be sloppy with this much time to prepare. I expect a big offensive effort by the Gators. If Michigan can score, so can we. I also expect our defense to control the line of scrimmage. We may give up some yards through the air, and Troy Smith is like no other QB we faced this year, but we have faired well against all teams that try to move the ball on the ground. We will give up some yards through the air, but as long as we continue to keep the ball in front of us we should be OK.
Prediction UF 38 OSU 31
—Last year was the 100th year of Texas Football. Can we continue the trend?
—I am not going to do the research, but since I already know that no school has ever won a championship in both basketball and football in the same season, I am reasonably sure that it will be hard to find another school who played in a baseball, basketball, and football championship within a year and a half span. Who said Foley is not a great AD? You may not like him, but give the guy credit when it is due. This happened on his watch.
—Players of note who could have, or should have, but will miss out on the festivities…
Random Notes from the SEC Championship Game
—2006 SEC Champion Florida Gators!
—The curse of the chomp
When are teams going to learn that you just don’t do that? Premature mocking celebrations versus the Gators during the Urban Meyer Era, is not advised if you want to win the game.
—Speaking of which, everyone should have already known the victory was ours before the game started. You can not do the Gator chomp if you are not a Gator. Little did they realize at the time, but when Ben Cleveland and Damian Williams did it in their High School Championship game last year they cursed themselves in this game. That is a no, no, even if you were committed at the time.
—After the first few series, I was pretty nervous about those 2 playing a major role in the game. They both looked pretty good, but luckily their impact faded. I was surprised the announcers didn’t know to discuss that subplot at all.
—I was even more surprised to hear ESPN commentators on Game Day discussing our loss of Armando Allen to Notre Dame when talking about our situation before the game.
—WTF? That is all I can say. I wish I had a picture of Wilbur also mocking this act, but “farks” speak louder than words (These are taken from various Photoshoppers on the Soonerfans fark forum, with a reminder by shiva from Gatorbait. I did not contribute in any way to these. For more amazing work, please see the following link at Soonerfans.com. You must register to view the forum).
The Arkansas Punter
—I was very concerned by the early and continual injuries throughout the game combined with the players who were already hurting. We could never have withstood injuries to guys like Ray Mac, Joiner, Rissler, Caldwell, Wynn, Harvin, and Everett last year.
—Happy Birthday Chris Hetland! Seriously, not only was Hetland’s kick huge despite the fact that my stats said he should have not kicked it, but he also did it on his 23rd Birthday. It was also his longest FG of the year at a lengthy 33 yards.
—We really got lucky with on the outcome of the third timeout. I truly wanted to go for it, especially after successfully completing the fake punt in a much less desirable and unlikely position. I am ecstatic about the outcome though.
—This was the most fun I have had watching a game in a very long time. It didn’t hurt that it was an exciting game with many big plays and the outcome was huge, or that I was keenly aware of what was taking place during the UCLA game. Oh yeah, and drinking a third of a bottle of 18 year old scotch seemed to help as well..
—”I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly… ”
Main Entry: per•cy•ver•ance
: the action or condition or an instance of persevering : repeatedly injuring the same ankle and getting up each time to break another 20 + yard run: dropping 2 give me passes and coming back to make 2 of the biggest plays of the game
—Harvin truly is the X factor for our offense. It is pedestrian without him, and has the ability to be special when he is healthy and involved. I think the last few weeks should make everyone very confident about our ability to score against OSU, especially since it is likely the first time since Tennessee that he should be rested and 100%.
—To think, just a little over a week ago the FSU game was stopped for over 10 minutes, Percy Harvin was immobilized, and carted off the field and fitted for a neck brace.
—On the first Leak INT. that was not a bad play call, IMO. We went to that same play at least 5 times during the game and each time with the exception of that try was successful. Meyer’s explanation during his Sunday show implied that Leak did not wait to pass the defender on his roll out and pitched the ball too soon. After watching the play again, that is exactly what happened. It was poorly executed, but the play was there.
—On Leak’s 2nd INT, I wondered if this was an example of a play that he has trouble making because of his size. On TV it is clear as day that the defender is there, but then again, I am not looking at the play through the eyes of a 5’10” QB looking directly over the middle of an Offensive and Defensive line where the average height of the guys is 6’3”+, and closer to 7’ something with their arms up. It looked very similar to his poor pass that Harvin got hurt on the week before. I think Leak never saw at least 1 of the 2 defenders on both plays.
—It’s amazing how the fascination with potty humor never gets old. When was the last time we had more threads written about the reaction to the USC/UCLA game in the bathroom at the Georgia Dome than there were threads written about Mullen, and one even offered video evidence…ewhh. I hoped those guys washed their hands thoroughly before high-fiving the world.
—I felt very good about Jarred Fayson this weekend. After hearing rumors of his unhappiness, I think his play, and Urban Meyer’s comments on Sunday should put some of the Florida Nonsense talk to bed. During his Sunday show, Urban said that Jarred “is a terrific player for us. He’s got a great future here.” His play on the blocked punt and his block to spring Cornelius on the fake punt were two of the plays of the day.
—Strike up the band…(sorry wrong game)
—I thought Mullen’s play calling was pretty sound. It was a bit more gimmicky than I would have liked in other games, but I think that this game called for some of that. I think gimmick plays look “stylish”, and when you get beat by a “gimmick” there is something to be said by responding with one.
—Dorian Munroe played well, but he gets the most borderline calls against him of any player all year. I think that the one pass interference call that extended the drive and led to the half back option TD was the worst of the bunch. Who can forget the call against him during the Tennessee game during James punt return, which was called back as a result?
—Siler was huge and in on every play. He finished the game with 12 tackles. If he can play like that alongside a healthy Everett, I like our chances of containing Troy Smith and the Ohio State RB’s in the Championship Game.
—I was so into the USC/UCLA game and of course our game, that I forgot to eat dinner. I ran out to Taco Bell after the game (which I never do). Man, those Gorditas and Chalupas are good, especially after you drink as much scotch as I did.
—”I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly… ”
—I don’t think anyone thought that this defense without Marcus Thomas had a prayer of holding McFadden to under 100 yards. Not only did we do so, but he finished the game going 21 for 73 for 3.5 yards per rush and no TD’s on the ground. That is clearly well below his season average of 120 yards and 1+ TD per game on 5.9 yards per carry. We now have extended our streak to not allowing a 100 yard rusher over our past 18 games.
—The points allowed may not have showed it, but I felt that we played one of our better games defensively, and controlled the tempo of the game. They had some big plays, but when they had to make a play they were not very successful, going 4/12 on 3rd down. We also forced quite a few three and outs, particularly in the first half when we needed to establish ourselves.
—We clearly play better when Chris is rolling out of the pocket. I like the way that we kept him moving the whole game. He was very active with his feet, whether it be running the option, rolling out to find a receiver, or keeping the ball himself.
—I was shocked to see how much we played from under center. I wonder what the thinking behind that was. It seemed to work.
—I keep saying it, but Chris Leak is a much improved runner. Just when you think he made his worst mistake yet by avoiding contact on a previous rush, he comes back and dazzles you with an amazing TD run. I vote for that TD as being his best run of the season. He actually made someone miss.
—Ryan Smith’s 8 interceptions is sick. I don’t know where we would be without this kid. He deserves to be discussed as an All American.
—That fake punt was about the dumbest thing that I have ever seen in a football game. That said, I am glad that we did it, and I give Meyer credit for having balls much bigger than I do. He knew what was at stake and took a risk that in retrospect was worthwhile.
—After all that had transpired, I knew we were in the clear and the gods were on our side when Wondy Pierre-Louis recovered the muffed punt in the end zone for a TD.
—Reggie was awesome and everywhere as always, but what was he trying to do after he got the interception?
—I was really shocked to see that we were only 3 for 13 combined on 3rd and 4th down.
—McCullom…Stay away from the ball! There is no reason to down the ball with 4 seconds left in the game.
—Kestahn Moore’s 28 yard scamper was huge! He even had his groove on. I am not sure who he faked out more, his jock or the defender.
—Mullen’s “cute” in the red zone worked this time on the Tebow to Caldwell to Casey TD. That play was absolutely huge and it is so much easier to say that it was a good call when it works. This is exactly what I mean by the hypocrisy in some of the comments that we make. When things work, these guys look great. When they don’t, they look stupid. The reality is that this team finished (12-1) and is going to the championship game, so any comments about how this, or that, or the other thing would come back to bite us in the ass, was just noise. That is why I am a big believer in being more constructive, and keeping mistakes or errors in judgment in their proper perspective. None of us can be right 100% of the time, and that goes for our coaches too. You judge them when the body of work is complete. Dan Mullen has a more detailed job description than offensive play caller. He is responsible for the attitudes of his players, recruiting, preparation, and so many more things that we have no idea about. You have to cut a guy some slack when we are winning. Otherwise, you just sound like a spoiled fan.
—Considering we are the supposed to have the “gimmick” offense, Arkansas was more like the Sharper Image to our Comp USA.
—Props go out to the announcers for stating the SEC’s case, especially to Danielson for summarizing our achievements over the last few minutes of the game.
—The USC /UCLA game was awesome. It felt so good to shut up certain USC posters who had been so arrogantly telling us that we did not even belong in the discussion. The best was shutting up USC arrogant poster whore, Joey Doughnuts. We made a bet about the outcome of our game and I won. As a result, he is proudly displaying my signature on the Rivals National Board. In the spirit of good sportsmanship, I added his signature with a slight modification, because he would not send me what I really wanted, doughnuts. I had offered him some NY bagels if he won.
—Part of my point about why the BCS is so bad, and why I feel that people who still believe that Michigan or Ohio State are clearly better teams than we are is because just a week ago USC was clearly better than we are. People are wrong all of the time. I don’t understand how people like Mark May and Herbstreit can week in and out make definitive statements, be wrong, change their opinion, and keep getting the shot to be listened to. It boggles the mind how little credibility anybody has that claims to know the absolute answers when none exist.
—12-1 is unreal to me. I never thought it could happen, but each week when we lined up, I also never thought we would lose.
—The 3rd quarter started to seem like FSU all over again, but I felt like we had these guys measured the whole game. Even when we went down 21-17, I still felt like we were playing with the lead. I know that doesn’t make sense, but I just felt we were the much better team.
—Ingram is really coming into his own. I think he had his best game as a Gator.
—With the exception of 1 really bad play this yr, Wilbur had a great season. It is a strange thing when the punter can be considered a weapon.
—Reggie Lewis had a huge end zone pass defensed on the missed field goal drive when it was still (3-0). He was also beat deep in back to back games, but in fairness Carr and Monk are both future NFL receivers who are quite tall.
—We haven’t been very successful at defending trick plays this year. Tennessee and Arkansas both exposed us. Spurrier is the only one who failed, that I can recall.
—Major props to Steve Harris, Joe Cohen, Brandon Antwine, Derrick Harvey, Jarvis Moss, and Ray McDonald (while he was in). That was the best run defense that we have played since before we lost MT, and it was done against the best running backs and offensive lineman that we have faced this year.
—I take it Wynn was hurt worse than the coaches let on.
—I was surprised at how few times Baker and Cornelius touched the ball. I was shocked when Baker dropped that one ball. He always makes that catch.
—Tebow was his normal steady self. I always feel so comfortable when he is in the game. He did an especially efficient job of running out the clock at the end of the game, and of course making the first down when called to do so. That is such an unsung weapon. We almost take it for granted how difficult it could be to get short first downs on 3rd and 4th down.
—I feel like I should have more to say, because this team deserves every accolade it gets when this is all done. I am proud by what they have achieved through adversity. Not many felt that we could get to the National Championship game, or win the SEC Championship Game, but they just kept doing what they had to do, and the record panned out. This is truly a special year for Gator sports teams, an I am glad that the Seniors on this team, who have been through so much, finally have an opportunity to taste what winning championships feels like at the University of Florida. Special props to Chris Leak for enduring what he had to go through, including the criticism, changing of coordinators, and being asked to be a square peg in a round hole for the good of the team. He has earned his place in Gator history despite all of the people who sometimes have rooted against him. I hope that he can now be embraced like the all time great Gators that he deserves to be included with. At the end of the day, I feel his legacy should be that of the ultimate team player, because he has sacrificed what he does, for what he has been asked to do over and over again.
I have no burning recruiting comments to make this week, so that’s a wrap. I will be back with more after New Years, so for those who only read these entries, have a sucky Holiday Season, and I look forward to finishing the last chapter of this book with the Random Thoughts After the National Championship Victory edition. Don’t forget to visit my blog at Blogatorial