The two best 5-year runs of University of Florida football were 1993-97 (55-8-1) and 2005-09, during which time the Gators went 57-10. Under Steve Spurrier, the 1993-97 run included four straight SEC championships (1993-96), one national championship (1996) and national championship game loss (1995). During the 2005-09 run under Urban Meyer, the Gators won two national and two SEC championships (2006, 2008) plus won 13 games three times (2006, 2008-09).
It’s important to highlight those two runs because it tells you where Florida football can be under the right coach. In the 10 years prior to Spurrier (122-27-1 in his 12 years on the job) the Gators were 76-38-3 under three coaches (Charley Pell, Galen Hall and interim Gary Darnell). In the three years prior to Meyer’s first five years on the job, the Gators went 23-15 under Ron Zook and Charlie Strong (one game as interim). In the past five years (2010 under Meyer and 2011-14 under Will Muschamp), the Gators have gone 37-26.
Only Nebraska (60-3) had a better five years than the Gators from 1993-97. Only Boise State and Texas (both 58-8) had a better run than Florida’s 57-10. From 1990-2009, the Gators were 202-52-1, the best record in the nation.
Since 2010, the Gators are tied for 48th nationally. The best 10 records nationally are: (1) Oregon, 60-8; (2) Alabama, 58-9; (3) Florida State, 58-11; (4) Northern Illinois, 57-13; (5) Boise State, 55-11; (6) Stanford, 54-13; (7) Michigan State, 53-14; (8) LSU, 52-14; (9) Oklahoma, 51-15; (10) Wisconsin, 50-18.
Here is the rest of the SEC and their national rankings: (11) South Carolina, 49-17; (19) Missouri, 46-20; (20) Georgia, 46-21; (23) Auburn, 45-21; (25) Texas A&M, 44-21; (T30) Mississippi State, 41-24; (T48) Florida, 37-26; (T56) Arkansas, 36-28; (73) Ole Miss, 30-33; (T76) Vanderbilt, 29-34; (T78) Tennessee, 28-34; (T104) Kentucky.
This is the reality of the Florida program and where it has sunk. When Florida football is only ninth best in the Southeastern Conference over any given 5-year period the program might not be at rock bottom, but it’s at its lowest point since the post probation years of 1986-89.
The numbers don’t lie. Florida football is in serious need of a resurrection. Jim McElwain has his work cut out for him.
Here is a look at all 14 SEC coaches and what they were doing 10 years ago, plus what each program has achieved in the past decade.
Florida: Jim McElwain was in his third year as the wide receivers coach/special teams coordinator at Michigan State. In 2005, the Gators went 9-3 and beat Iowa in the Outback Bowl in Urban Meyer’s first year as Florida’s head coach. In the decade of 2005-14, Florida went 94-36, won two national championships (2006, 2008) and two SEC titles (2006, 2008). Florida’s 94 wins are tied for #9 nationally.
Georgia: Mark Richt was in his fifth year as Georgia’s head coach. The Bulldogs went 10-3 and won the SEC championship by beating LSU, 34-14, but lost to West Virginia, 38-35, in the Sugar Bowl. Richt is 136-48 as Georgia’s head coach with two SEC championships (2002, 2005). From 2005-14, Georgia went 94-38 with one SEC championship. The 94 wins are tied for #9 nationally since 2005.
Kentucky: Mark Stoops was in his second year as the secondary coach/defensive coordinator for brother Mike at Arizona. In his two years as the Kentucky head coach, the Wildcats are 7-17. Kentucky went 3-8 in 2005, but Rich Brooks took the Wildcats to four straight winning seasons and four straight bowl games after that before retiring after the 2009 season. Kentucky is 53-71 since 2005, #84 nationally.
South Carolina: Steve Spurrier was in his first year as the head coach at South Carolina. The Gamecocks went 7-5 and lost to Missouri (then of the Big 12) in the Independence Bowl. Spurrier is the winningest coach in South Carolina history with an 84-45 record. He has taken the Gamecocks to nine bowls in 10 seasons including a school-record seven in a row. South Carolina’s 84-45 record since 2005 is tied for #23 nationally.
Tennessee: In 2005, Butch Jones was in his first year coaching the wide receivers for Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia. Jones is 12-13 in two years as the Tennessee head coach. The 2005 season was the first sign the hinges were about to come off the doors for Phillip Fulmer. The Vols went 5-6 in 2005, then 19-8 in the next two years. In 2008, Tennessee had another losing season and Fulmer was axed. Since 2005, Tennessee is 64-61, tied for #62 nationally.
Vanderbilt: Derek Mason was in his first year coaching wide receivers for Frank Solich at Ohio U. In his one year on the job at Vanderbilt, Mason is 3-9 with an 0-8 record in the SEC. The Commodores started 2005 4-0 under Bobby Johnson but a 6-game losing streak doomed the to another losing season although they did knock off Tennessee, 28-24, in Knoxville to finish 5-6. Vanderbilt is 52-71 in the decade from 2005-14, tied for #85 nationally.
Alabama: Nick Saban was in his fist year coaching the NFL Miami Dolphins. Since taking over at Alabama in 2007, the Crimson Tide is 86-17 with three national championships (2009, 2012-13) and three SEC titles (2009, 2012, 2014). On the field in 2005, Alabama went 10-2 under Mike Shula. A run-in with the NCAA vacated all 10 wins, however, and so the NCAA-official record is 0-2. Because of vacated wins (10 in 2005, 6 in 2006, 5 in 2007), Alabama is officially 86-26 since 2005. On the field, the Crimson Tide is 107-26.
Arkansas: Bret Bielema was in his second year coordinating the defense at Wisconsin for Barry Alvarez. Since taking over at Arkansas in 2013, the Razorbacks are 10-15 under Bielema. In 2005, the Arkansas coach was Houston Nutt, who went 4-7 but bounced back the next season to win the SEC West. Arkansas lost in the SEC Championship Game to Florida, which went on to win the national title. Nutt went 18-9 the next two seasons but “resigned” (translation forced out) after the 2007 season and landed at Ole Miss, where he coached four years after replacing Coach O. From 2005-14, Arkansas compiled a 70-56 record, which is tied for #50 nationally.
Auburn: Gus Malzahn was in his fifth year as the head coach at Springdale High School in Arkansas. He took over as Auburn’s head coach in 2012 and has posted a 20-7 record with one SEC title and one appearance in the national championship game (both in 2013). Tommy Tuberville took Auburn to a 9-3 record in 2005. The Tigers were co-champs of the SEC West but LSU represented the West in the SEC Championship Game by virtue of a 20-17 win over Auburn. From 2005-14, Auburn went 87-42 with two SEC titles (2010, 2013) and one national championship (2010). The 87 wins rank #17 nationally since 2005.
LSU: Les Miles went 11-2 in his first year at LSU, tying Auburn for the SEC West title. The Tigers lost to Georgia in the SEC Championship game but routed Miami, 40-3 in the Peach Bowl. Miles has won one national championship (2007), two SEC championships (2007, 2011) and has played for a national championship (2011). Miles is 103-29 in his 10 years on the job in Baton Rouge. From 2005-14, LSU won two SEC titles and one national title. The 103 wins rank #3 nationally.
Mississippi State: Dan Mullen was in his first year as the offensive coordinator at Florida. Since taking over at Mississippi State in 2009, Mullen is 46-31 and has taken the Bulldogs to a school record five consecutive bowl games. In 2005, the Mississippi State coach was Sylvester Croom, who took the Bulldogs to a 3-8 record. Croom coached the Bulldogs for five years, posting an 21-38 record with only one winning season, 8-5 in 2007. From 2005-14, Mississippi State went 64-61, which is tied for #62 nationally.
Missouri: Gary Pinkel was in his fifth year as the head coach at Missouri in 2005 while playing in the Big 12 Conference. The Tigers went 7-5 that season with a win over South Carolina in the Independence Bowl. Missouri jumped to the SEC in 2012 and has posted a 28-12 record with back-to-back SEC East titles (2013-14). Overall, Pinkel is 112-66 at Missouri, where he is the winningest coach in school history. From 2005-14, Missouri went 91-41, which is #12 nationally.
Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze was the assistant athletic director for football external affairs at Ole Miss in 2005. The next season Coach Ed Orgeron promoted him to tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. Since taking over at Ole Miss in 2012, Freeze has guided the Rebels to a 24-15 record and three consecutive bowl games. The 2005 Rebels went 3-8 for Coach O, who lasted two more seasons before he was canned. From 2005-14, Ole Miss compiled a 58-66 record, which is tied for #77 nationally.
Texas A&M: Kevin Sumlin was in his third year coaching tight ends and working as special teams coordinator for Bob Stoops at Oklahoma in 2005. Since becoming the head coach at Texas A&M in 2012, Sumlin has posted a 28-11 record and has produced Heisman Trophy winner (2012) Johnny Manziel. The 2005 Aggies went 5-6 under Dennis Franchione, who lasted two more seasons before he was fired and replaced by Mike Sherman. From 2005-14, Texas A&M went 75-52, which is tied for #39 nationally.
In an ESPN article that states a case for the Philadelphia Eagles trading up to get Heisman Trophy quarterback Marcus Mariota to play for the college coach who signed him (Chip Kelly), ESPN’s K.C. Joyner listed the seven requirements Bill Parcells followed when drafting a quarterback. Mariota hits on all seven.
On nearly every mock draft board, Florida State’s Jameis Winston is considered the #1 pick with Mariota typically going 4-5 spots lower. Using the Parcells requirements, here is how Mariota stacks up against Winston.
1. Be a 3-year starter: The choice is Mariota. Winston only started two years.
2. Play your senior year in college: Again, the choice is Mariota, although he played only three years of college football. Mariota is a fourth-year redshirt so 2014 was technically his senior season even though he had a year of eligibility remaining. Winston took a freshman redshirt and then played only two years.
3. Graduate from college: Mariota graduated with a 3.22 GPA. Winston has not graduated.
4. Start 30 games: Mariota started 41 games in three years. Winston started 27 games out of 28 in his career.
5. Win 23 games: Mariota gets the edge because he played more games. Mariota was 36-5 as a starting quarterback. Winston was 26-1, his only loss as a starter to Mariota and Oregon in the 2014 semifinals at the Rose Bowl.
6. Post a 2-1 TD-interception ratio: Mariota was off the charts here. He threw 105 touchdown passes and was only intercepted 14 times. After posting a 4-1 ratio (40 TDP, 10 INT) in 2013, Winston was erratic in 2014, throwing 25 touchdowns and 18 picks. Still, his 65-28 TDP-INT ratio is better than 2-1.
7. Complete 60% or more of your passes: Mariota was 779-1,167 passing for 10,796 yards in his career, a 66.8% completion percentage. Winston was 562-851 for 7,964 yards, a 66% completion percentage.
As Joyner points out, since 1999 only nine first round quarterbacks have hit all seven Parcells requirements: Drew Brees (Purdue), Robert Griffin III (Baylor), Byron Leftwich (Marshall), Matt Leinart (Southern Cal), Andrew Luck (Stanford), Eli Manning (Ole Miss), Chad Pennington (Marshall), Phillip Rivers (North Carolina State) and Tim Tebow (Florida).
Who shoulders most of the blame for Florida’s fall from the winningest program from 1990-2009 to #48 in the past five years: Urban Meyer or Will Muschamp?
Lesley Gore died Monday. If you grew up in the 1960s, then you know how popular she was in the first half of the decade. Lesley was 16 when she hit #1 on all the music charts with “It’s My Party” in April of 1963. She followed that up with the sequel “It’s Judy’s Turn to Cry” which made it up to #5 in June. In December she ended a remarkable year with “You Don’t Own Me.” She never had another year like that but for the next four years she was a pop music icon. Today’s song is “You Don’t Own Me.” Rest in peace, Lesley.