For The Florida Gators Collapse, It All Goes Back To Atlanta

Jim FolsomContributorOctober 17, 2010

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 16:  Coach urban Meyer of the Florida Gators checks the scoreboard during play against the Mississippi State Bulldogs October 16, 2010 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

At the end of last year's regular season, I wrote an article about the SEC Championship Game being the biggest game in our lifetime.

Some of you scoffed. How could it be bigger than playing in a BCS Title Game, you wondered? Well, you're looking at it.

That game was so huge, losing it has set in motion the total collapse we are seeing today. This program has not yet recovered from that game. There was so much riding on it. The SEC Championship, a trip to play Texas for the BCS Championship, a chance for Florida's first back to back titles, and a chance at the school's only real goal, the Great White Whale for Florida, the perfect season, that losing it all in such a soul crushing manor, has left the program reeling.

Urban Meyer clearly is not the same coach he was since that game. Health issues or not, he no longer is the man that ruled not only the Gator program, but the SEC. Gone is the man who once blew up at players (and kicked a few off the team) who dared laugh on the bus following a loss to South Carolina. Gone is the man who made Mark Richt pay for ordering a full team end zone celebration in 2007 by using every last time out he had in the following year's 49-10 spanking.

What's left is a guy who does little. He does little coaching now. So much so that Steve Addazio is wearing so many hats he looks like he's in Victory Lane at a NASCAR race. He's the Offensive Coordinator, Offensive Line Coach, media liaison, the Summer Banquet Tour's number one speaker, and now-a-days the Chief Whipping Boy for the irate Gator Nation. I feel sorry for the guy.

I also feel sorry for Quarterback John Brantley. He turned down Texas to come to Florida. How dumb does that look right now? I'm sure he was told that the offense would be tweaked for him, a la Chris Leak, when he was ready to take over. But here he is running the same plays designed for Tim Tebow. For seven weeks now, it hasn't worked. It was obvious it would not work in week one.

But still no adjustments have been made.

Why? I believe this team has never recovered from that SEC Championship Game debacle. Alabama did not just beat Florida. They dismantled them. They punched them in the mouth. They left them bleeding on the ground. They exposed them. For the first time in four years, Florida had no answer. They still don't.

 In fact, Meyer seems like a man not sure if he still wants to coach. During this stretch of absolutely embarrassing play, all he says is "we're not playing very well." REALLY? This is what we get for four million dollars? I could've come up with that. Where is the outrage? The disgust? The rolling heads?

Against Mississippi State, Florida lost 10-7 to a team who threw ONE PASS in the second half. That's Florida International stuff right there. In the third quarter Trey Burton is inserted at QB, leads the offense on a 80 yard touchdown drive, and then for the fourth quarter Brantley is put back in again. WHAT? Stupidity cannot explain this. This is beyond that. This is a white flag.  This is a coach who wants to be fired. Or a coach who wants someone to tell, him it's OK to retire. He is the coaching equivalent of Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder hearing voices telling him to "Get Out of that Race Car".

There is a date where this all began. It was the day that Alabama became the King of the SEC. If you really want out Coach, it's OK. Please don't feel you have to tank the program to do it. But if you stay, do whatever you have to do, throw some people off the bus if you will, but get back to pre-SEC Championship Game.