“I don’t really worry about the perception of what might be out there. Unfortunately, in our profession, sometimes the perception becomes reality. I don’t apologize for being 3-1 (vs. the BCS top ten) and the only team in the BCS top ten that has that record and a better record than anyone else and has a tougher schedule than anyone else in the country. So I don’t know what you need to do. You look at our record, you look at our schedule and what we’ve accomplished this year, we’ve had a hell of a year.” Will Muschamp at today’s media conference.
This statement was in response to a media question about if Muschamp felt the Gators weren’t getting the respect that a 9-1 team deserves. There’s an old adage that says respect must be earned. Sometimes, however, it can be affected by perception.
The perception about this Florida Gator team by fans, the media, and just about anyone else that follows college football is that they are a good team, but not that good. Sure they’re 9-1 but somehow lucky to be 9-1. That Will Muschamp is not a coach but a wizard. That somehow he has cast a spell that allows them to win games at the end even though they should not be able to win them.
Of course, that’s preposterous, but believe it or not people actually think that.
Let’s make it clear, teams don’t win games by accident. Wins are not given out nor can they be stolen nor can they be conjured up. Winning is a learned trait, it doesn’t just happen.
In today’s media session Muschamp said he was “proud of their (the team’s) effort the way that they continue to fight, to play through the season, play for 60 minutes. Understand what it takes to win games. Because that’s a talent. Winning games is a talent, it’s something our guys have learned to do in a short time”
That about sums it up. Football is a 60 minute game. They don’t give trophies for what a team does in the first quarter, or the second quarter, or even the third or fourth quarters. It’s what a team does over the course of 60 minutes.
Last year this team was competitive against everybody on their schedule, for two maybe three quarters. They couldn’t finish games and ended the season 7-6. This season they’re not blowing anybody out, except for Carolina, but finding ways to win ballgames at the end. If they were to take a poll among Gator fans asking if they would be willing to sacrifice two wins, or even one win for that matter, if the team would “look” better on the whole, I’d imagine very few would say yes.
That’s the crux of the matter. What’s more important, wins or style points? Like Spurrier used to say, “there’s a reason they keep score.” Muschamp and company could have chosen to air it out in a high flying offense that puts up some stats and in the process may have lit up the turnover stats and lost a few more games along the way. They chose to play it safe, rely on a tough defense, and fantastic special teams and let their superior conditioning and will win the games for them in the end.
This is a winning formula for these Gators.
In fact, they are the only team in the nation that has three wins against BCS top ten teams. LSU is the only other team with more than one win against the BCS top ten.
The BCS top three, Kansas State, Oregon, and Notre Dame? Zero.
That’s zero as in zip and zilch. It’s zero, as in nada.
So what of respect? The Gators are the Rodney Dangerfield of this college football season. They can’t get any respect, at least from human eyes anyway.
The impartial computers used in the BCS formula have all the respect in the world for the Gators because they can’t “perceive” a lack of style points. A wins a win and the only thing that differentiates one from the other is who the opponent is. And, aye there’s the rub.
According to the NCAA, the Gators have the toughest schedule in the nation. They are the only team that has played four of the top ten teams in the BCS. Considering they are one of the ten, realistically, they’ve beaten three of the top nine which means they’ve beaten one third of the BCS top ten.
I’d say that’s pretty good and so do the computers. They actually have Florida third in the BCS ahead of undefeated Oregon and only behind K State and Notre Dame.
So, while it’s doubtful, the Gators will ever receive the respect they deserve this season, the respect they earned, Gator fans need to remember what this team has accomplished this season playing the toughest schedule in the nation and appreciate it.
Enjoy the ride Gator Nation, it’s almost over.