GOOGLE II: Learning Lessons The Hard Way

Someone needs to teach the staff at the School Out West (SOW) that it’s very easy to Google these days. I understand that the SOW is in the midst of their worst five-year run since before their head coach was hired but when you are trying to sell your program to prospects and are relating it to the program that has recently made you their own personal whipping boy, it’s probably not a good idea.

Well, you know the last time I wrote an article about how easy it is to straighten out the illusions passed on by certain employees at the SOW (Florida State) I seemed to stir up a real hornet’s nest. We will have more about that when this recruiting season is over and I get to tell it all in a classic Post Season Hollywood Bob’s Private Screening. For now, let’s just say that a few of the folks out west weren’t very happy.

I made a mistake in writing the article last time. I should have left the prospective athletes out of it. I quoted a couple of them back then when they talked about how the SOW coaches were putting all these great NFL players in the league and telling the prospects about it. For the most part it was the defensive line prospects that they were passing this on to and they had two just go in the first round of the NFL draft of 2006.

I conceded the recent draft, but enlightened anyone that wanted to read, that this great discrepancy in coaching up players is just a myth. Back in July when the story was done there were 11 former SOW players on the defensive line in the NFL and there were nine former Gator defensive linemen on rosters. Not much difference really. After closer inspection, it revealed that the former Gators were actually much more productive for their careers than the SOW’s former linemen.

With two less players garnering stats, the Gators actually out-tackled the SOW’s. They also out-sacked the SOW’s defensive linemen by about a 25 percent margin. The stats aren’t much different for this season.

For the 2006 season the SOW linemen hold a current six tackle lead with 124 combined tackles and the Gators at 118. With half the season gone, the Gator linemen have a 20-4 edge on sacks, this despite sack-master Jevon Kearse out for most of the season already.

So, why am I bringing all of this up again? It is because those Ministers of Misinformation are at it once again. It seems they are trying to compare what is going on out west to what is going on in Gainesville, and there is just no comparison.

After the game this weekend some prospects made it back home and told stories of future grandeur out west. According to some of these prospects, what was told to them in the locker room was this is just a cyclical thing and that it will be SOW’s turn to win a few games soon against their hated rival Florida.

According to some of these prospects what was told to them by the SOW staff on Saturday is that the SOW is the only school that plays both in-state rivals meaning Miami and Florida. They went on to say that the Gators dropped Miami because they were beating Florida.

They also made it a point to mention that in the Gator’s national championship season (1996), the lone loss is the one to the SOW. Every time the Gators look back at that season they have to see a loss to their arch-rival. Of course forgetting to mention the lopsided debacle — does 52-20 ring a bell? — they endured to end their own National Championship hopes is rather convenient.

Note all of this was before the game this past Saturday. Especially funny, in my opinion, is the SOW was basically letting the prospects know that when they lose later that day it is just because it is just Florida’s turn, or a cyclical event.

Lost in translation I guess, they forgot to mention just how bad of a cycle their team is going through right now. To compare themselves to a team in Florida that has improved each year over the last three years and beaten them all three … well that’s nonsense. What a little Google search does is allow just a little more perspective.

In the last six years the SOW has lost 26 games. Not since Florida made the change from Doug Dickey to Charley Pell in 1979 have there been that many losses by one of the two teams over a six year period. The last time it happened at the SOW, they made the change from Darrell Mudra to Bobby Bowden … thirty-one years ago.

In his first year Bowden had a losing record (5-6) and that hasn’t happened since. Of course, that could change after their bowl game. SOW is 6-6 and if they lose … seven losses is unthinkable isn’t it? It could happen.

I find it laughable that they point out the national championship for the Gators and leave out the 52-20 thrashing by the Gators. It is probably the single most memorable win in Gator history and I would bet most Gator fans have the score as their personal identification numbers (PIN) on their bank cards. It was also one of three times in the Steve Spurrier era where he kept the SOW from claiming another national championship.

Maybe the funniest comment coming out of the pre-game talk from the SOW staff was the Gators dropping Miami because the Gators were losing to them. Of course there is no mention of the Gators adding a seventh conference game in 1988 (the year Miami was dropped) per SEC rules. This meant the Gators could not commit to home and away games with both the SOW and Miami or they would lose revenue from a sixth home game that was needed to run a big-time athletic department. And by the way, if you check it out, Florida’s athletic budget and expenditures are nearly DOUBLE the SOW, plus UF needs no state funds to run its programs.

When the SEC later mandated an eighth conference game, having Miami on the schedule was next to impossible.

Of course, when the NCAA allowed a 12th game in 2002 and 2003, the Hurricanes were right back on the schedule. Now that the regular season has been increased by a game, the Hurricanes are back on the schedule in 2008 at the first availability.

Oh yeah, let’s see, go to Google and in the little search box type in “NCAA football, strength of schedule and 2006 ranking.” Then click on the NCAA site. Low and behold who is at number one? Why that would be Florida with the current toughest schedule in America and mercy me if that is without Miami on the schedule.

Of course the SOW is down there at 25. Not bad really. It must be because of all of those powerhouse ACC teams they play. N.C. State is a big one for sure. They must be, because they have beaten the SOW four of the last six years including 2006. More about that in a minute.

The staff at the SOW may be the only one in recent history to maintain their employment through the next season despite losing to two coaches that were fired for their seasons. In 2004 Gator Coach Ron Zook and staff were let go at the end of the year, but won their final game with Zook as the Gator coach in Tallahassee on the night the field was to be named after Bowden. Gator fans now refer to the sod at the stadium out west as “Ron Zook Field.”

Bowden and his staff also have the distinction of losing four out of the last six games against N.C. State including this year. The Wolfpack fired Caoch Chuck Amato Sunday. If only he could have just beaten the Akrons and East Carolinas of the college football world as easily as he beat the SOW.

I found all of this information at my fingertips. The way student athletes are trained on a computer it isn’t that hard to get the information. When the prospects leave Tallahassee laughing about the comparisons, you know most already know how to Google.