Monday Coverage

September 25, 2006

Aside from those who are specifically assigned to covering Florida, no one seems to be paying much attention to Boo-gate 2006. And that’s a good thing. There’s no good that can come of dwelling on it, so this is the last I’ll say about it.

ESPN.com’s College Football Final doesn’t even mention Florida except a brief bit about Tebow in a section on highly-touted freshman quarterbacks and their struggles. On SI.com, it gets a Quick Hit and a mention on Stewart Mandel’s blog. Foxsports.com doesn’t even have Florida in any of its wrap-up coverage, netiher does SportingNews.com, and Sportsline has no mention of it in writing or on its video with Tim Brando.

The Gainesville Sun had its say, and it went as expected. The articles in the Alligator predictably went 2-1 in favor of Tebow, with one defense of Leak, the simple writeup of the game calling Tebow “superhuman,” and a glowing report on Tebow’s play. It figures since most of the booing came from students.

The current generation of Florida students, of which I am a part, grew up watching Steve Spurrier run roughshod over the SEC and be in national title contention more often than not. It more or less thinks that the natural state of Gator football is to be at the top, and that Ron Zook merely held it down for three years. Now that he’s gone, its expectations to win every game by 30 return. It looks at football as a great excuse to tailgate and get hammered, and it focuses on that because it’s already a foregone conclusion that we should rule the college football world. It always gets caught by surprise when reality hits.
I know that it’s not just students who think that, but that’s where most of the cries for Tebow come from. They started the Tebow chants in the first couple of games, and led the way with the boos on Saturday. They don’t have perspective. For instance, Alabama has won 12 national titles, more than any other school, and they come into the Swamp on Saturday unranked. It’s not anyone’s natural state to dominate. That’s hard, and it doesn’t come easy. What I can also tell you is that freshman quarterbacks seldom dominate.

Tebow appearing against Kentucky was like a flamethrowing reliever following a crafty curveball pitcher. They’re both good but in different ways, and throwing 100 mph on the gun always gets more attention than the nuances of mixing curves, sliders, and changeups. That is not so say that Leak has a weak arm or anything; the analogy on goes so far. Leak is still statistically one of the best passers in the country.

Now trust me, like my fellow students I want to see us win by 50 every game. It’s more exciting that way and more fun. Still, I appreciate the way the coaches are getting ready for the next four games. We could go 4-0, we could go 1-3. There’s no way to tell right now, though I do think that people are overreacting to the messy play on Saturday. Every team has games where they come out and fall flat, and Florida still won by three touchdowns.

I trust the veterans to show up for the big games, because they have given me no reason to think they won’t this year. I trust the coaches to get the team ready for big games, because they are undefeated in the state of Florida and have won all their rivalry games. The team is definitely improved from last year. We’ll find out these next four weeks by how much.

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