The last time the Florida Gators beat Florida State in Gainesville Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes were celebrating Senior Day.
The Seminoles have ruined four-straight senior days for the Gators but this season looks to be different than those four. The last time Florida State was in Gainesville the Gators’ had an interim head coach in Randy Shannon, they were a sputtering four-win team that wasn’t going to make a bowl game and the entire program was in turmoil.
This year that’s Florida State’s role. Florida State fired head coach Willie Taggart 20 games into his coaching tenure and the Noles are 6-5 and will come to Gainesville with an interim head coach in Odell Haggins. The shoe is on the other foot and while UF offensive coordinator John Hevesy does feel for the coaches and families that will be uprooted soon, there’s no love lost in between the lines.
“That’s their problem. Not mine,” Hevesy responded when asked if he feels bad for FSU. “That’s their job to do. I mean I feel bad in the sense of the personal part of the coaches’ lives and stuff like that. But to me, ultimately everyone’s got a job to do to win the game and then hope the best for all of them.”
Don’t expect the Gators to take it easy on their rival. They’ve been on the wrong even of the rivalry for most of this decade. Since 2010 the Gators have won just twice in the series. Some may argue that when both teams are good it’s good for college football, the state of Florida and for the intensity of the rivalry, others don’t care and beating FSU feels go no matter what the circumstances and the 6-5 record doesn’t matter either.
“I don’t care how they are. I just want to win. If they’re 11-1 walking in here, 11-0 walking in here or 1-10 walking in here, any of these rivalry games I’ve been involved with whether it’s Utah-BYU, Ole Miss-Mississippi State, you can throw records out the window when you play these games,” Hevesy said. “To me, you have to show up with your best because it doesn’t matter.”
Thoughts also turn to senior day. Florida will have 22 seniors playing their last game in the Swamp in two weeks. The last four senior classes to play their final game at home against FSU have all lost. That’s on each and every one of the seniors’ minds as they prepare for FSU. There’s the whole pageantry of senior day and it truly is a celebration, one that the players and their families should relish. After it’s over there’s business to handle.
“We could just leave no doubt that we’re one of the best teams in Florida, well, the best team in Florida,” running back Lamical Perine said. “Us beating Miami and Florida State in the same year, there should be nothing else to talk about so that’d be nice.”