Are you ready for it? Eight grueling months without College Football Saturdays. If any of you are like me, you’ve built your lives around Saturdays in the Fall. Despite a job that often requires attention on Saturdays. Despite two young boys. Despite a wife who hates all sports. Despite being 2,400 miles from Gainesville. I still carve out at least a few hours every Saturday. I still wake up to Fowler and Herbstreit and I still crash on the couch with the late Pac-10 or Hawaii game. But after Monday’s title game, I stare into the abyss of the offseason. We here around Bourbon Meyer love our hoops, too, but football is and always will be our true love.
Before we turn our attention to the new Muschamp regime, the excitement of recruiting and the anticipation of spring ball, I wanted to put some quick thoughts about this past season to paper. Actually does anyone write on paper anymore?
The Gators obviously had a lost season. Urban Meyer’s focus was never the same after his scare in December 2009. Most of us severely overrated John Brantley. And too many potential playmakers turned out to be huge disappointments – Mike Pouncey as a center, Will Hill, Deonte Thompson, Omar Hunter. The bowl win was a beautiful way to send out Meyer and Ahmad Black, who I personally feel goes into the books as one of the greatest Gators defenders of all-time (at least my Gator time in the past 20 years). And there is clearly excitement in the air as Muschamp comes aboard with Charlie Weis in tow. If they can coax the skills that are hiding right now in all our 4- and 5-stars, the chance for a big rebound is there.
As for the rest of the country, a few teams shared our disappointment. Texas went from the title game to last in the Big 12. Michigan and Miami flamed out again and fired their coaches. We lost two of the coaches most beloved by the blogosphere – the Wannstache and Dan “Intramurals” Hawkins. Alabama failed to defend its SEC West title, let alone the national one. Boise State missed a couple of FGs, which in the end didn’t matter since they weren’t jumping Oregon and Auburn anyway.
Which brings us to the title game. The hype leading up to the game centered around a few topics. Cam Newton. The Ducks’ tempo. The SEC’s dominance. The Pac-10 getting its shot against the Big Boys. I woke up to an amazingly pathetic and funny article in the L.A. Times on Sunday about how Oregon was going to show the world the Pac-10 was better than the SEC. To his credit, that same columnist ate his crow smothered, covered and chunked a couple of days later. After five straight, even the smuggest writers across the country cannot deny our league’s dominance over the college football world. Four SEC teams have won titles in those five years (of course UF is the only school with two). Counting up national titles from back in the day is tough because of how many different ways schools claim them. But sticking to the BCS and before that AP rankings, you come up with four Big 10 teams EVER having won titles. The Pac-10 has had four schools win titles… if you go back to 1920. The case is closed about which conference is the best.
As for the game itself, I thought Auburn dominated and should have won quite comfortably. In all honesty, if Cam Newton hadn’t played so terribly, they probably would have. Newton missed two wide open TD throws, threw an INT and coughed up a fumble that lead to the tying score late. Nick Fairley and the Auburn defense and Michael Dyer were the heroes. Oregon was gutsy and showed a lot of balls but just couldn’t match the power and speed combo of the Tigers.
One thing the Pac-10 should feel good about… in the next few years, the SEC will join them as a conference with a vacated national title. Not that Auburn fans care right now.
A couple of final notes that should have Gators fans excited. Gene Chizik won the title in his second year at Auburn, continuing a tradition that Urban Meyer and Nick Saban started. Chizik is also a former Texas defensive coordinator. Both great signs as the Will Muschamp era kicks off.
Now we go quietly into the long offseason. Only 32 Saturdays to go.