GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we recap the Florida Gators game against Missouri last Saturday.
Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, I don’t know what we watched on Saturday. They supposedly call that football, but I didn’t watch football on Saturday with that game.
Nick: To me the most disheartening thing is that, at least from the outside, it appears that you had a team that quit. I think that was really evident on one play in particular, that’s when CJ Henderson gives up on a play. I get it, he’s stiff-armed. Should have been offensive pass interference, but that doesn’t mean you stop playing football. I think, not just him, but kind of all over the place you saw guys not playing their hardest, and that, to me, is an issue. I get that you went through a lot, but there’s no reason to quit. If you don’t want to be here, if you don’t want to be playing football at the University of Florida, there’s plenty of people that do.
Andrew: Here’s my thing, Nick. It goes back to Coach Mac, what Coach Mac said, and I’m not trying to bring up the past, but he always had that statement, and it’s true. You are what you put on film.
Nick: Yeah. Listen, there’s a lot of guys that will be going to the NFL early, juniors, redshirt sophomores, that maybe wouldn’t have, but that kind of stuff happens when you get a new coaching staff in. You’re putting out crap film. You’re not going.
Nick: You’re not going to get what you expected to get, at least, in terms of where you’re going to be drafted. The rest of the season, these next three games, you got to win three games now to even get the chance for a fourth game, and it doesn’t look like these guys even care or want to go to a bowl game. Talk is cheap, especially when all week you say there’s a lot to play for, and yada, yada. Then you go out, and you look like that. Pretty disheartening.
Andrew: Nick, this team’s not going to a bowl game. You can go ahead and make reservations to join me in Orlando for the Under Armour game.
Nick: I’m not going to be in Shreveport for whatever that bowl game is called now?
Andrew: The Duck Dynasty Bowl.
Nick: Yeah. On Christmas Day.
Andrew: You can go ahead and forget that. Here’s the thing, Nick, and this is what’s disheartening to me. This is what bothers me, from the outside looking in, and talking to people. This team was dealt a terrible hand. Let’s just call it what it was. This team didn’t deserve a couple Mondays ago to happen with the death threats. It didn’t deserve for the head coach to be dismissed in the middle of the year. It didn’t deserve the credit card stuff. There’s a lot of things it didn’t deserve.
At the end of the day, you’re playing for the name on the front and the name on the back. I’m not here for sympathy, Nick. I told you last week, I’m not here to give out awards for excuses. I’m just not. It’s disheartening, and it brings me to my next point, Nick. When and why did this team start getting a me against the world mindset and turning against its fanbase?
Nick: That’s Jim McElwain. This is my opinion, and I think people will agree with me. Jim McElwain had that whole thing where he was always looking for sympathy and always playing the sympathy card with fans, “Our facilities and this and that. Well, I’m not going to use an excuse.” Then stop bringing it up. If it’s not an excuse, then stop bringing up injuries and stop bringing up suspended players and not having enough guys. You say it’s not an excuse, but you sure as hell use it a lot. To me, it’s that, and then Jim McElwain’s called the fans out multiple times. It’s also the culture and the time we live in, with guys being on social media, and the fans having expectations based on what the guys have that might be unrealistic.
Andrew: Stop for a second, Nick. The University of Florida is not the only fanbase.
Nick: No, no.
Andrew: I know. I know. I’m going to retaliate to your point. Florida’s not the only one.
Nick: Fans are spoiled everywhere.
Andrew: Fans are spoiled everywhere. University of Alabama fans are pissed off because they didn’t beat LSU by 40.
Nick: I had an Alabama fan over the weekend, we’re watching the game, and he was complaining about the LSU game. I’m like, “They haven’t lost a single game this season. They’re beating LSU.”
Andrew: Ohio State fans are ready to run Urban out.
Nick: That’s wild.
Andrew: They’re doing well. It’s not that. Here’s my thing, Nick, and this is what I ask you. Your fanbase is your family, in my opinion, as well as that. Is there a few bad apples and morons in every fanbase? Yes. When you call out the fanbase, and I’m particularly talking to Chauncey Gardner, because he’s the one that started this shit, in my opinion, when you come out and continue to call out your fanbase, you’re wrong. What are you pumping your chest about? You’re 3-5. What are you pumping your chest about?
Nick: He doesn’t act like they’re 3-5.
Andrew: News flash. You’re 3-5. Let me say this. I respect those guys, and, Nick, I know you will back me up when I say this, I respect those players probably as much than anyone in the world does. What they do, not getting paid, and that’s a different argument for a different day, but let’s face it, if you’re going to play at the big stage at the University of Florida, you should know criticism is coming. Is it fair sometimes? No. Is it the world we live in? Yeah. Is it fair that you and I get criticism because we write something and someone don’t like it? No. Here’s the deal, we can’t bash everyone.
Whoever gets this job has got to change the culture of united as one. It blows my mind. When I start seeing other guys that are good people calling out the fanbase and saying these weirdos, this, that, and the other, it blows my mind. Honestly, Nick, it hurts me a little bit, because I don’t like that.
Nick: Yeah. I don’t get the whole us against the world attitude. I mean, I get it in the sense of coaches might use that as like a motivational tool, but I agree with you. To go out and attack the fanbase, I don’t know what that is going to accomplish. Now, to be fair, the only way to fix this would be just to not go on Twitter. There’s some nasty stuff sent towards players. If you’re someone doing that, you need to check your priorities and check what you’re doing in life, if you feel the need to tweet filth at an 18-year-old kid, because you didn’t like what he did on a football field.
To me, it’s just maybe just stay off Twitter after games. I know some players do that, and they do it intentionally. There’s guys that, as soon as they get to the locker room, they pull their phone out, and they search their name, and it’s not great. I get why you would be angry, but you just have to be mature enough not to publicly call fans out. We just see it constantly after every game.
Andrew: Yeah. I don’t like that. Let’s move to the game. Let’s place the blame where the blame is due, Nick. Come on, get your moral victories out. I’m starting to hand them out. They’re worth nothing, again, this week, but what’s your excuse this week for Randy Shannon?
Nick: Chris Rumph was calling plays. That’s your defensive coordinator, buddy.
Andrew: Do we know that?
Nick: Yeah. We know that.
Andrew: Still Randy Shannon’s defense.
Nick: It was Jim McElwain’s offense then, too.
Andrew: He got fired for it.
Nick: Yeah. Listen, and I said all week, Randy Shannon is auditioning for a job. It’s not the Florida job, but he’s auditioning for his next job, and hit some wrong notes there in your first audition.
Andrew: We’ll talk about why Randy Shannon doesn’t deserve to stay in a few minutes. That game, I mean, Nick, I don’t even know how to break it down, bud.
Nick: I did say this about Shannon, to my defense. I said I thought Randy Shannon, it was something we were told, something we were told early on was that I thought Randy Shannon might get retained if Scott Strickland brought in a new coach, a young coach, and wanted the young coach to have somebody there in terms of he’s been there before, done it. He can help out as far as advice, stuff like that. You and I were both told that. You disagree with it, because you don’t like Randy Shannon. I think that’s the only reason that he would stay. Certainly, if you flop like you did Saturday in the next three games, that will change.
Andrew: I think the opinion is changing quickly on Randy Shannon. We’ll discuss that here in a minute more. I think what you just said was partially wrong. I don’t hate Randy Shannon as a person. I don’t. I don’t know Randy Shannon.
Nick: I didn’t say that. You don’t like him as a coach.
Andrew: I don’t like him as a coach. I don’t like him as a recruiter, and I don’t like him in this business where he is. We’ll talk about that more in a second. Randy Shannon wasn’t the guy to lead this team. Randy Shannon is not the motivator of that, and you needed someone that was going to bring everyone together, not divide everyone. There’s more division today than there was last week, and some of that is Randy being a defensive guy. Some of that Randy being a South Florida guy. Everyone on that football team knows Randy loves the South Florida guys more than anyone. That just is what it is. That’s a division that it is.
Everything he said last week was a lie. He said he was going to work and change things up on special teams. Didn’t happen. He said he was going to simplify the playbook on offense. Didn’t happen. He said he was going to simplify things on defense and let his guys go play. Didn’t happen. 0 for 3.
Nick: Yeah. He also lied directly to my face. I asked him, “You said you were going to shake things up on special teams. Was that Eddy kicking it short?” He goes, “We didn’t Eddy to kick it short. He mishit it.” I was like, “So Eddy mishit five kicks?” “Yes.” Okay. No. Sell. Not buying that for a second.
Andrew: Eddy Pineiro does not. Eddy Pineiro has dreams about how far he can kick the ball. Eddy Pineiro doesn’t miss five kicks. Here’s the thing. I said it last week on the podcast. I’d like to see him sky kick it to the goal line, and let his team run down there and do it.
Nick: You got your wish.
Andrew: In my opinion, he did do a good job of kicking it, sky kicking it to the goal line.
Nick: He got plenty of hang time.
Andrew: Guess what? The second part didn’t work.
Nick: Nope. You got your wish.
Andrew: The second part didn’t work. Those guys didn’t even block. You go back to the punt on Brandon Powell, in the 2nd quarter, I believe. They were going right to left. He catches it on about the 10, and CJ McWilliams and Mark Thompson decide they’re not going to block nobody. Brandon Powell gets a 2-yard return.
Nick: He just shouldn’t be back there fielding punts. If you trust him to catch the ball, which he didn’t, and I would say that’s an aberration as far as the fumble at Missouri, if you trust him to catch the ball, and you want to use him like Vernon Hargreaves when they used Vernon Hargreaves. Remember that? Where any time you were backed up, we trust Vernon to call a fair catch or make the right decision on a fair catch call.
Nick: So we’ll use him back there. He’s never really going to return the ball. If that’s how you want to use Brandon Powell, sure. If you’re thinking that we’re going to return this punt, you got to have someone else back there. I don’t know why it’s taken eight games to figure that out.
Andrew: Where’s Dre Massey?
Nick: Nowhere to be found there.
Andrew: I mean, here’s the thing to me. This is probably the guy that I think has been hurt the most by the things. Dre Massey looks like a pretty good football player. He’s catching the ball, and he’s quick. Pretty good football player. Kadarius Toney’s out of this game.
Nick: What did he have? He had two catches for 75 yards.
Andrew: Yeah. I don’t mean that he had the best game.
Nick: No. I’m just saying why only two?
Nick: Why aren’t you finding ways to get him the ball?
Andrew: Why are we continuing, and I say we, and I’m speaking as if I’m Doug Nussmeier. Why are we continuing to throw the ball to Brandon Powell? If I’m one of the players, I’m asking that question.
Nick: He got five catches.
Andrew: Right, and he doesn’t do anything with it.
Nick: More than Tyrie Cleveland. More than Dre Massey.
Andrew: He still doesn’t do anything with it. I don’t know, Nick. I really don’t. Are you done talking about this, whatever we call this that happened on Saturday?
Nick: 45-16. Really balanced attack for Missouri. 228 through the air, 227 on the ground. I was a little disappointed in Khairi Clark after the game. We asked him why were they able to run the ball so effectively, and Khairi said, “I feel like they didn’t run the ball up the middle. When they got their big gains they ran to the outside.”
Andrew: Hold on. They didn’t run the ball up the middle.
Nick: He kind of threw the defensive ends under the bus. I felt like Missouri ran the ball wherever they wanted to, outside, inside. Ran the ball wherever they wanted to. To me, the score, whatever. The play calling didn’t change at all on offense. It was still terrible. Then the decisions to kick field goals, when you’re down 14-0. They go right down the field, and now it’s 21-3. Congratulations on your 3-point field goal. The decisions, and ultimately that comes down to the head coach. That comes down to Randy. The decisions to kick field goals early, those are bad decisions in my eyes.
The whole game plan Saturday just seemed like a defeatist attitude and defeatist game plan. To me, more concerning than the score is just the attitude that the team showed, and not just the team. When I say the team I don’t mean just players. I mean coaches as well. Just a defeatist attitude. They say the right things all week, and then you see what they do on Saturday. It’s kind of just a mess.
Andrew: Take some pride. Own up to mistakes. That’s another issue. They were running right at it. They were just bouncing off of tackles, Nick. They were just bouncing off of tackles. It was just an effort that is bad, and it shows the recruiting on defense, and we’ll hit on that in a second here. It just shows there. I don’t know, Nick. It was bad. To say that Missouri was that much better than you is bad, because they weren’t. It was just, like you said, it was lack of effort at times.
Nick: Right now Florida’s one of the three worst teams in the SEC. Put in there with like Arkansas and …
Nick: Tennessee. I think Vanderbilt might even be playing better than Florida right now. They’re one of the three worst teams in the SEC, and that’s something that you should probably never, ever be able to say about the University of Florida. That’s reality right now.
Andrew: Here’s the thing too, Nick. Where was the runs with Zaire?
Nick: No change. There was no change in anything with the offense. You’re in a position where you have four games left.
Andrew: Throw the kitchen sink out.
Nick: Yeah. You’ve seen what you’ve been doing, and it’s not working. Change some stuff up. Do some stuff. It was just more of the same.
Andrew: Throw the kitchen sink out, Nick. That’s the thing that I don’t understand. Then, like you said, you’re playing scared. Let’s just call it what it is. When you’re kicking field goals, that kind of stuff, that’s retarded. That’s just, I don’t know. That’s just scared. I don’t like that at all. Like I said, I don’t like the game plan, by any means. It was slow, and it was boring. You took some shots deep down the field in the second half, and they worked. Where was that the first half? Everyone in America knows what teams are going to do. They’re going to stack the box, and they’re going to make you throw the ball. Guess what? Will Muschamp isn’t a good coach, but he’s a damn good DC. He’s going to do the same thing this week.
Nick: Yeah. I guess the last thing we both agree on is the most concerning thing is the effort, pride, and then the lack of ownership that is prevalent throughout the team. I think that’s where we are with these guys. We can move on from that game. No sense in beating that dead horse.
Andrew: Yeah. It’s embarrassing. Let’s talk about Randy Shannon, Nick. Let’s talk about how this program got to where it is. This program started a slow decline, and as people have described to me, Nick, and that is it’s bad. It’s bad on so many levels. In my opinion, one of the things reared its head on Sunday night, and that is when Randy Shannon took the commitment of Nigel Bethel. First of all, why are you taking a commitment, Randy? Second of all, you’re taking a commitment that everyone on your staff has already declined earlier this year, when they declined to take his commitment.
It just shows the problem that it is right now. It’s Randy Shannon and everyone else. Randy Shannon, even when Jim McElwain believed he was the guy, he was the authority. This isn’t the University of Miami 10 years ago, Randy. You were working for someone. Right now, you are nobody. You are an interim head coach who is just getting a placeholding job of running your team out on Saturdays. That’s it. You have no authority. No authority.
It just has made it, in my opinion, two downfalls for Jim McElwain were his coordinators, and that was Doug Nussmeier and Randy Shannon. His second downfall is allowing Randy Shannon to basically run his program. When I say that, I mean the disconnect between all of his coaches were there. There is a major divide in the coaching offices, and in the program in general, because of that. There is a major divide among the big power boosters because of that. They don’t like it.
Now, give me a moral victory, Nick.
Nick: I got no moral victories for you. I guess a counterpoint would be the interim head coach is still getting paid by the university, so they have an obligation to do the best thing that they think for their employer. If that’s taking a commitment, then sure. We’ve talked about this, and I really don’t like when scholarships are pulled from guys. I think it’s a dirty part of recruiting. It’s a reality, but a dirty part of recruiting. Right now, you’re creating a situation where the next guy is going to have to do more of that, because who knows? Who knows if that’s somebody the next head coach, or the next coaching staff, would take? Who knows if that’s a fit? You might not have a coach until December.
Now you’re going to tell a kid, who now thinks he’s going to the University of Florida, next coach comes in, and all of a sudden, no you’re not. Not for us. Go ahead and restart your process. Then you have to have a kid be committed, but not really committed, because he doesn’t know who’s going to be the next coach, or what the next coach’s plans are for him. To me, it just creates more of a mess, when you start taking commitments, even if it’s a five-star kid. Not to bash the commitment that Florida took, because it’s a three-star. He’s not ranked highly.
Andrew: Been turned down five times by Florida, Miami, Georgia, everybody.
Nick: Everyone knows how you and I feel about stars and rankings and all that. That’s fine. Even if it’s a five-star kid, might not fit what the next coach wants to do. Might not be the personality the next coach wants. There’s just so many things that are unknown, and to take commitments, I think right now, in my opinion, the job of the interim is probably to keep the guys that you have, more so than to add on other guys.
Andrew: Right. That’s the thing. To create a divide, Nick, though is just not good. I don’t know what else to say, except for it’s just not good, Nick. The divide is there. Someone told me this, and you I weren’t around, I mean, we were, but we weren’t covering the team like we were, during the Urban days. They said this was how it was during the Urban days. I said, “Okay.” It’s just a major divide, Nick. It’s created that. The problems go so far up the university that it’s crazy. I’m going to post a link. I’m going to post a message board post here in a little while, Monday afternoon, about all the different things.
Scott Strickland needs to step in. Needs to tell Randy Shannon to stop. Your job is to lead this team for three more weeks, and that’s it. He has to get in there and stop this madhouse, because not only does that happen of you take a commit, Nick, but guess what? He’s a receiver. You already have four committed. The other four are looking around now. You also had some other targets out there. Now those guys are seeing this stuff. You’re creating a long-term issue for the University of Florida by doing radical things like he did. That’s exactly what it is.
Andrew: What would you say? Would you say Scott Strickland needs to freeze it?
Nick: Yeah. That’s interesting, because he’s a first time athletic director. Not first time athletic director, but first time athletic director in this situation, where you have an interim. To me, it’s kind of like he’s almost in a situation where he’s learning on the job right now, and maybe that’ll wake him up to some of it. I don’t know if you could expect that. Scott Strickland’s certainly not involved in the day to day recruiting. That’s not part of his job. He doesn’t need to be a micromanager and be involved in the day to day recruiting, but I think when you see something like this you have to question it. Ask people around you that you trust. Is this something I should fix? Is this something I should be looking at? I think the answer would be yes there. I think yeah. I think you should step in. It’s certainly a unique situation for somebody who’s in this for the first time.
Andrew: Okay. That’s fair.
Nick: Scott Strickland doesn’t know what the recruiting board is.
Andrew: No. I understand that.
Nick: It’s not his job to know that, but then when you see this he’s got to ask, “Who is this? Who greenlit it?” Stuff like that.
Andrew: Yeah. I think when Scott Strickland appointed Randy Shannon he thought he was appointing a grown man that wasn’t trying to do stupid stuff. That’s exactly what Randy Shannon is. There’s no other way to explain what happened on Sunday night, except for to say it was stupid. I’m sorry. I usually don’t use that language towards people, or towards situations, but when you have a situation that happened on Sunday night, when the commitment’s been denied several times, and is like that, it’s beyond stupid.
Andrew: Going forward, what do you see?
Nick: In terms of?
Andrew: Just the team and everything. What’s going to happen? How does this team respond?
Nick: They’ll say the right things this week. I have no confidence that they’ll respond well. I worry that they’ll get blown out at South Carolina.
Andrew: Talking to people.
Nick: Listen, Will Muschamp certainly still has some type of feelings about Florida and what happened at Florida, and Florida fans. If he can, he will put up as many points as possible.
Andrew: Yeah. Talking to people that would know and stuff, zero confidence that they get a win this week. Zero confidence they get a win this week. Listen, I told you this, Nick. I’ve got a buddy who coaches for UAB, and I told you this. He’s texting me on Saturday, and he goes, “We’re going to kick the Gator’s ass.”
Nick: They’re bowl eligible. Congratulations to them. That’s a great story, going from having your football program taken away from you, your first year back to being bowl eligible. Congratulations to UAB. Those are a bunch of hungry kids, and a bunch of kids that weren’t recruited by Florida. That probably feel like Florida didn’t think they were good enough, so they’re going to come in hungry as hell.
Andrew: There’s some guys on there that were recruited, and that got into UAB because of situations. Quick little story. Bill Clark, coach at UAB, he’s the guy that hired me at University of South Alabama, and I tell you what, Bill Clark’s a hell of a football coach. He’s going to have his guys ready. As you said, props to him. The situation that it is, most people would not have stuck around. He did, and he got this program rolling.
Nick: Really tough situation, and they’ve come out of it looking great. Really proud and happy for those guys. I don’t know if I can proud. I don’t know any of them. Really happy for what they’ve done. Super impressive. I thought UAB would be coming into Gainesville with five wins, looking to get bowl eligible in Gainesville, but they’ve already accomplished that. They’re going to be coming in looking for their eighth win.
Andrew: Exactly. Nick, I’m going to go ahead and say it. Florida’s not going to a bowl game this year.
Nick: Here’s one thing. A lot of people have been asking about it. Is it almost better to not go to a bowl game? No. It’s always better to go to a bowl game. It doesn’t matter what your situation is, or how frustrated you are, or what’s going on. It is always better to go to a bowl game. You get those practices in. You get another opportunity to get guys better. You get another opportunity to have recruits go and see you play. It is always better to go to a bowl game than to not.
Andrew: Yes. No, no, no, and no, as far as that. You want to have that. You want to be able to get those extra practices for these guys. This is still a young team in a lot of ways.
Nick: And those bowl practices you will have a chance to have your next head coach, and possibly the next head coaching staff, watch those. See what they have. So that they’re not trying to figure out what they have in spring practice, when time is very limited with the guys. Bowl practices are huge, especially in that aspect, where the new coaching staff will get a chance to see what they have, what kind of players they have, before they get to coach them.
Andrew: Exactly. It’s just tough luck, because these guys do deserve it. Here’s the thing, Nick. This is what I do hope going forward. Whoever it may be, and David Reese kind of stepped up to be that leader on Saturday, whoever it may be, listen, this has got some young guys on this football team.
Nick: There’s no leadership. David Reese, good for him, jumping up and saying this is bullshit. It’s also not his personality, kind of like we talked about like Lamical Perine. Not his personality to jump up and say that to the team. They’re kind of quiet leaders, more show me instead of tell me kind of leaders. Florida needs some of those guys. I wrote they need somebody to grab their teammate’s face mask and get in their face and say, “Listen, this is bullshit. You quit. This is not the attitude. This is not how we play football here. You’re not somebody I want to play with if that’s how you’re going to play.” They need somebody to go, and it might be unpopular. Might not make you friends, but it’s going to make the team win. It’s going to help the team get better.
Andrew: Right. That’s what I was about to say. These young guys, they don’t need to be driven. CJ Henderson doesn’t need to be driven by what happened on Saturday. CJ Henderson is a good football player, but he does not need to let that become a situation where that’s always talked about. Nick, you know that stuff follows you. It does. Teams in the NFL are going to watch that play in three years, or two years, and say, “What was that?”
Nick: The problem is that the negative attitude around the entire team is infectious. It will infect a good player like CJ Henderson. If the guys around me are quitting, what am I doing out here? I’m just one guy. I can’t make a difference if I’m just one guy. So why do I need to give my all, if my teammates, the guys around me, aren’t?
Andrew: Right. Exactly. That’s the thing I really hope that someone does, because this is not the way you want to end the year, especially for a lot of these young guys. It just doesn’t. Your guys that are also looking to go the NFL, this isn’t the way you want to end this stuff.
Anyway, Nick, we got some basketball. Basketball started their exhibition last week, and we had some good stuff on that. We got plenty of stuff coming. We’ve been posting coaching news and stuff on the message boards on a daily basis. That’s there. If haven’t checked us out on Gator Country, let one of us know. We’ll get you that coupon code to come out and check us out, because things are heated on the football side, and things are fun on the basketball side. Then in recruiting, things are just in whatever land, until you take dumb commitments and that kind of stuff happens. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out. We’ll see everyone on Wednesday. Try to bring some positivity to the Gator Nation.
Nick: www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. Find the podcast on iTunes as well. Search @GatorCountry. Subscribe. Never miss an episode. You can find us on social media. It’s @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC. He’s @AndrewSpiveyGC.
Andrew: There you go. Guys, we appreciate it. As always, chomp, chomp. Go Braves.
Nick: You stay classy, Gator Country.