Will Muschamp walked into the South end zone meeting room and the first words out of his mouth summed up the entire season for the Gators.
“Very frustrating, difficult day that ends a very frustrating, difficult season,” he said. “That’s the best way I can sum it up.”
And frustrating it was for Florida. Officially the Gators end the season with a 4-8 record — their worst record since the infamous 0-10-1 season of 1979. Florida also missed a bowl game for the first time in 23 years, lost to a Division 1AA/FCS team for the first time in school history, lost to Vanderbilt at home for the first time since the Harry S. Truman administration and lost 37-7 to Florida State Saturday, the worst home loss to FSU in school history.
This Florida team finished 11-2 just a year ago. Those 11 wins seem like a lifetime ago and slipped further and further away with each of the seven consecutive losses that brought the UF season to a conclusion. The Gators season hit rock bottom a week ago against Georgia Southern and finally came to a screeching halt today in Gainesville.
There are no more games to be played. Today was it. It is a sobering feeling for a proud university and a proud football program.
“It’s a great lesson to be humbled in life sometimes — as a coach, as a staff and as players,” Muschamp said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s good for us.”
A humbling season and experience indeed. Especially for a senior class that came in heralded as “the best recruiting class ever.”
The 2010 recruiting class came to Gainesville as the first recruiting class in the post Tebow era. Florida’s graduating class went out with a school record for most wins by a senior class and a Sugar Bowl championship. In their years in the program, those 2010 recruits never played for a national championship or even got to the SEC Championship Game. They played in one BCS bowl game and were blown out by Louisville.
Redshirt junior Max Garcia talked about the feeling about letting down the seniors today, their last chance to out on the orange and blue.
“Really just saying that I’m sorry the season went the way it went,” Garcia said of interactions with his teammates after the game. “I wish it could have ended another way. You appreciate those guys for their effort and for their hard work they put in for the past five years, the past two since I’ve been here. I haven’t heard them complain. All of them are hard workers. You guys see that sometimes, but I see that all the time. I just appreciate those guys and thanked them for what they did.”
Muschamp also saw that same effort as Garcia. While the team had a tendency to get down on themselves when the scoreboard favored their opponent, Muschamp didn’t see any quit in his football team, despite the avalanche of injuries the program went through.
“We could’ve played with more of an edge at times,” Muschamp said. “The guys played hard; the guys competed. We were just in tough situations. I wished we’d have handled them better. Again, I think as much as anything, the psychological impact it has on the entirety of your program. It’s frustrating.”
So, that’s it folks. The 2013 Florida Gators are a wrap. It’s a season that you’ll want to forget but you can’t. Seven straight losses are burned into your memory. You’ll recount this season to your kids and grandkids when Florida is back on top and winning championships just like Gator fans who were around in 1979 recount that year.
There is one thing that is certain. This is Florida and they will be back. If it’s up to Muschamp, they’ll be back sooner rather than later.
“We’re going to be fine. We’re going to have a good football team next year, I can assure you of that,” Muschamp said. “Sitting in that locker room with those guys, we’re going to be fine. And that’s what’s encouraging for me. It’s damned encouraging.”