Nobody asked me, but it seems like the psychic scribes at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala., are piling on Florida and new coach Jim McElwain for no good reason.
Reporters at the conference kickoff meeting predicted the Gators would finish fifth in the SEC East this season, ahead of only Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Did nobody tell them that Will Muschamp moved on?
My assumption is that Florida will be better on offense no matter who McElwain chooses to play quarterback and no matter what he asks them to do. This coach knows offense. He can’t work miracles, not without anything resembling strength on the offensive line, but he knows offense.
So if the Gators are slightly better on offense and hold their own defensively, why shouldn’t they be as competitive within the division as they were last year? That’s right, even with Muschamp’s boring offensive attack, Florida went 4-2 in the SEC East.
Florida beat Georgia 38-20, and the Bulldogs are the team that the media picked to win the division in 2015.
There was one horrible loss in there, 42-13 to Missouri in the Swamp. Still can’t figure out how Mizzou took control of this division so quickly.
The other SEC East loss, to South Carolina, was in overtime. There were other squeakers, too, a three-overtime monster against Kentucky and a 10-9 snoozer against Tennesse, but the Gators won both of those. Isn’t that what counts? Last within the division there was one of Florida’s best games overall, a 34-10 pounding of a Vanderbilt team that usually makes the Gators work a lot harder.
Here’s another thing. Florida, for all its problems, would have been 8-5 last year if not the season opener against Idaho being canceled by storms. The cupboard isn’t completely bare, at least not to the point that weaklings like Kentucky and Vanderbilt are the only SEC East rivals that McElwain can handle.
Big Mac has brought some of this on by poormouthing his team and trying to build a little cushion for his first season in Gainesville. Expectations do tend to get out of control pretty quickly at Florida, or at least they did before Muschamp popped that balloon.
I’ll just say that the media missed on this one, just like they did in predicting that Alabama would win the SEC West but Auburn would win the league title. Make up your minds, fellas.
Better yet, let’s just see how it all plays out.
(By the way, if anybody had asked, I would have put Florida in a third-place tie with South Carolina in the SEC East, behind Georgia and Missouri.)