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Maybe Florida Should ‘Drain The Swamp’

By Buddy Martin
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The Florida Gators need to find a coach in a hurry, before the new Dec. 20 date of National Signing Day. Because it’s getting ugly out there.

The Florida Gators need to find a coach in a hurry, before the new Dec. 20 date of National Signing Day. Because it’s getting ugly out there.

It doesn’t feel so good down here on Rock Bottom, looking up at the Vanderbilts and South Carolinas and Missouris and Mississippi States. And begging UCF’s coach to come bail out your team. Especially when Humpty Dumpty appears to be crashing right in front of your eyes, as is the case with the Florida Gators.

Meanwhile, Gator Nation should go on the 12-step program. The prevailing mood is sadness. Will there ever be gladness again?

It should all start with Steve Spurrier dressing up again as Mr. Two Bits and pumping some life back into the morbid Gator Nation. He’s about the only voice of good cheer these days.

The Ambassador/Consultant/Cheerleader says that Humpty Dumpty’s wounds don’t have to be fatal.  And that the right coach with a winning record could put the Gator football program back on a winning track again in short order.

“All you have to do is look at Central Florida,” Spurrier said on my radio show Monday. “Of course, their coach (Scott Frost) … everybody in the country is going to be after him. But two years ago they didn’t win a game! (2015). Now they’re undefeated. It doesn’t take that long at all.”

Frankly, if it would help with the pain, most Gators are about ready to adopt the phrase “Drain the Swamp,” without the political implication — the one in Gainesville, not Washington. Maybe they should.

The 42-16 thrashing by Missouri marked the first time a Gator defense has given 42 points in back-to-back games in a century. That same Swiss cheese defense is allowing more points per game than any Gator team in over 70 years.

And you thought the offense stunk!?

No wonder Gator Nation is angry, discouraged, disgusted, flummoxed and mystified. Some of the fans are downright deranged.

The pain manifests of itself in many ways — sometimes in nasty fashion and waaayyy over the top.

Social media gangsters went ballistic with their personal attacks on red-shirt freshman quarterback Felipe Franks. Columnists Pat Forde of Yahoo copied down a few of their barbaric Tweets, some of which wouldn’t even pass the taste guidelines for a bathroom wall. Including:

“If I was your coach I would pay them to hurt you.”
“F— you I hope you die b—-.”
“Can you please just leave the program, you’re aids.”

It’s the kind of ugliness which tears a program apart. And in an oblique manner, departed coach Jim McElwain referenced that nastiness with his “death threats” comment before he was drummed out of town. (Not that McElwain needed a lot of encouragement to leave.)

So it hurts, bad. Even old-time Gators have to dig deep in the archives to find anything as embarrassing or painful.

Before there was TV, my friend Whit was listening to his battery operated radio back in his youth while walking around Lake Weir South of Ocala and he couldn’t believe the words he was hearing out of the mouth of the Florida Gator announcer he thinks was Otis Boggs. It was 1942.

Georgia had All-Americans Frankie Sinkwich and Charlie Trippi, who ran wild.

The blow-by-blow account of the Bulldogs ripping Whit’s beloved Gators apart, 75-0 — still the most lopsided in Florida football history -- was more than he could bear. Tears began to trickle down the cheeks of the 13-year-old boy.

Whit’s Gator hero was Billy Correy, considered the Tim Tebow figure of his day and “everybody said he could become president one day.” Later, Correy married Whit’s sister Virginia before going off to France World for War II and losing his life.

Spurrier remembers Whit well, because when he was done with NFL football the former Tampa Bay Bucs/San Francisco Forty-Niner came back to Gainesville and couldn’t find a job. Whit offered him one. Steve appreciated the offer, but did not accept.

Seventy-five years later, Whit still feels the pain. On Saturday, he had a flashback -- among thousands of Gator fans who reached a new low point in the second straight embarrassing performance with the complete meltdown in Columbia, Missouri.

“It was a sad day,” said the 88-year-old Ocalan, longtime fan, booster and loyal supporter of players and the program.

It hurts when your favorite teams plays badly and loses. Sometimes when you’re at the ballpark, you boo or swear under you breath. Or if you’re at home you throw things at the TV,  or maybe even turn the dang thing off.

There’s no throwing in the towel the rest of this year, however.
Especially not the players, according to one of the all-time best ever to wear the orange and blue.

Chris Doering’s whole career was built on persistence, hanging in there as a walk-on when things were dim, acceding to All-American status and holding of the record (tied) for most touchdown pass catches in the SEC.

Doering thinks current Gator players owe it to themselves and their coaches to play hard and finish strong “because they’re putting their resume’ on tape for their future.” He also said he learned from older players “to enjoy it because it goes by quickly” and he didn’t appreciate the opportunity he had of playing college football right away. Now that he’s out,  Doering says he often reminds young players of that privilege while they are in college.

As for his choice as the next coach?

“I come from a perspective that’s different than most players who ever played at the University of Florida,” said Doering. “I grew up here in Gainesville. Unfortunately I’m afraid there aren’t that many people who value having played football at Florida.

“But we got spoiled by a head coach who played at Florida, won a Heisman Trophy, came back and resurrected the program. There’s nobody out there like that. So what we’re looking at what’s available are not the same thing.”

It’s going to be a long winter. Can Spring come fast enough?

Buddy Martin - Buddy Martin is a veteran columnist, talk show host and author. A longtime observer of college football, Martin is heard weeknights on the Buddy Martin Show on ESPN Coastal Georgia and WMOP/WGGG in Ocala/Gainesville Fla. and the Southern Pigskin Radio Network, where he also co-hosts The Terry Bradshaw Show. Buddy won an Emmy while he was with Terry at CBS as an associate producer. More of Buddy's work can be found at where his show is streamed live. Buddy's most recent book is Steve Spurrier's autobiography "Head Ball Coach: My Life in Football" published by Blue Rider Press. He also wrote Urban Meyer's authorized biography, "Urban's Way," and Terry Bradshaw's autobiography "Looking Deep." Contact him at, Facebook/The Buddy Martin Show and @Buddyshow on Twitter.