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How the Tables Have Turned: Preparing for the 2011 Florida Gator Season

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How the Tables Have Turned: Preparing for the 2011 Florida Gator Season
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Coach Muschamp prepares to enter a season of low-expectations, something that isn't common in Gainesville

Well, this is weird. 

For the first time in seven years, the Florida Gators are ranked out of the Top 10 and not expected to win a national championship. 

Forget a national championship, they aren't even predicted to raise the SEC Championship trophy in Atlanta this December. 

"I couldn't care less," first year head coach Will Muschamp said. "I hope it motivates the players. I'm assuming it does. That's not something we're going to spend a whole lot of time in our meeting room talking about."

Sorry to break it to you Coach, but fans, rivals, and fans are going to take this to the highest extent. 

Fans will blindly defend that "this team could surprise everyone!". They'll try and forget that a good chunk of the team is gone, that Urban Meyer, hero of the past, is going to be commentating and not coaching, and that quarterbacks who just had an off-year while trying to fill the shadow of one of the most celebrated players of all time usually has a hard time bouncing back, especially in a new offensive scheme and with a red-hot freshmen waiting in the ranks. 

Rivals will be more than ecstatic that the Boys from Ol' Florida are booked for a rebuilding year after being on the receiving end of Gator beatdowns for the past few years. Florida, due to both domination and bandwagon fans, has accumulated almost as many haters as fans.

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The reaction of Florida State embarrassing Florida last year after the Gators won six straight was almost equal to that of the enthusiasm showed when Dallas upset the Miami Heat this past summer. 

As for the media, of course they'll have a field day. What don't they love better than a team fallen from glory? They'll discuss if they're one of the most disappointing teams in recent history.

They'll talk about John Brantley's transition from record-breaking high school gunslinger to disgraced embarrassment. They'll question the decision to hire Muschamp away from Texas. 

Me, you might ask? Well I've been a Florida fan since birth. My bedroom is painted blue and orange and I have several signed mini-helmets in my bookshelf. I'm inclined to fall under the category of blind-faith believer.

As a fan, it's hard to imagine my team doing bad, my hope for them outnumbers any common sense. But as I've grown as a writer, I've learned to accept the facts. Teams on the whole don't do well after losing players and working with a new coach and offensive and defensive schemes.

There's always an end to dynasties. USC's came to an end after a disappointing 5-4 Pac-10 record in 2009 and finally with the enacting of their two years of athletic probation.

Ohio State's came to a screeching halt this year with their own NCAA sanctions and the departure of Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor. Michigan and Notre Dame, two of the game's most storied programs, have been on the decline for awhile now.

And now it appears to be Florida's turn. 

Gator Nation and I can only hope the facts are wrong.

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