Gator Football, Inc.: Hold 'em, Fold 'em, or Run Away?

Gary BrownCorrespondent IIJanuary 21, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 01:  Tim Tebow #15 of the Florida Gators hugs his head coach Urban Meyer after scoring a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisana Superdome on January 1, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Kenny Rogers once sang that you had to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.

Besides gambling, this truth applies in business and even more often coaches seem to get it too. What we were pondering today at College Sports Matchups is if an investor would find now to be a time to hold ‘em, fold ‘em, or run away from football at the University of Florida’s Gator, Inc.

Why, this is insanity! This is like discussing the value of classic stocks like Sears, GM, or…oh.

You see, there is a cycle to all things and today the question is, "How would a wise investor handle his shares in Gator, Inc?" Have no doubt, it has been good to be part of this enterprise for many years now, and the returns have been excellent.

If you have been a Florida fan these last four years you have basked in the dividends provided by two national championships and been dazzled by the brilliance of one of college football’s brightest stars ever, Tim Tebow.

Tebow even added the extra dimension of combining genuine goodness along with all of his athletic ability. He outshines Lee Iacocca of Chrysler fame or Dave Thomas from Wendy’s as a company pitchman. He brought the school a Heisman and represented Florida well at two other ceremonies where the statue was presented.

It has been a great run. Is it over?

Well, investing should not be an emotional decision, so before deciding what Warren Buffet would do, here are some items to get you thinking:

Start with Urban Meyer and his coaching staff. There are three items that get coaches to think about jumping ship. They are: money, the NCAA hanging out, and the knowledge they have of their returning talent. 

Some of Meyer’s former assistants that have left the enterprise left for opportunities that presented significant possibilities for wealth-building. They have either been able to improve their potential by landing a top job somewhere or gaining a new, more significant title. Some of the moves, however, seem to be more lateral, or even backward, when compared to being part of Gator, Inc.

When Florida kicks off their season in 2010 four new assistant coaches will be roaming the sidelines. Meyer has never replaced that many coaches in one year since arriving at Florida. He has two others that did not join his Florida staff until this past season. 

To be fair, former offensive coordinator Dan Mullen is doing a commendable job in the top post at Mississippi State and last year’s defensive coordinator, Charlie Strong, was finally given a shot by Louisville to be their head coach. What is more interesting is why others followed these coaches to their new gigs where even the position of coordinator might not measure up to being part of the Gator staff.

Then there is Meyer’s resignation turned sabbatical. If you were a coach and knew you would be losing your two best players (Tebow and linebacker Brandon Spikes) that also double as great leaders you just might decide it was time to cut your losses, too.

Will Meyer be back or not? Who knows? It is really difficult for companies to thrive when there is uncertainty at the top, though.

Talk about a guy who can create some real confusion. Meyer shares his resignation with his family only to hear his daughter proclaim she will “get her daddy back.” His wife tells the media there is “no way” he changes his mind about coaching.  Then, it only takes one spirited practice to cause him to choose his other team over his daughter and make a liar of his wife.

Wonder if they think it might be better to play for another team? The 2011 round of recruits might.

Defensive leader Spikes came back for his senior year at Florida for one reason—to win a championship. He may not have reached his goal, but the stud linebacker passed on being a probable first round NFL pick to give it a go for Gator, Inc.

Florida’s five early departures for the NFL draft are the most of any school in the nation.

This means these guys are not looking around and thinking they might be the ones who can bring the SEC title back to Gainesville, along with a probable national title shot. No, they decided the grass was greener, much greener, playing pro ball.

Oh, and the guys leaving early are not the only ones who won’t be back next year. There are a ton of players from both sides of the ball that will be missing next year. Did we mention Tebow was moving on? He was the best quarterback and running back Florida had last year.

While the above items might cause you to be nervous about holding Gator, Inc., there are reasons to hold on right now.

Despite the confusion over the coaching situation Meyer has managed to put together one of the best recruiting classes, if not the best, in the nation. There is also a load of unproven talent waiting to get on the field in Gainesville that has been in town awhile. It is hard to say the cupboard is bare.

So, what is the Gator, Inc. investor to do?

Well, if you are a genuine Florida fan you have no choice but to hold 'em, and be proud to be a Gator. A real fan always believes better times are just around the corner, and really, just how bad was last year?

For those who love to get in on something good and leave at the first sign of problems, well, it is time to run. It was a great ride and you had the pleasure of reaping the benefits while they lasted.

What is your next play? There is a rumor that Seminole, Inc. is about to have a public offering. Think you should buy now?


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