"These kids are spoiled. They don't know what it was like watching Ron Zook for three years."
As a Florida transplant, I wasn't a Real Gator Fan until I attended UF. The Gators were always my favorite college, but Danny Wuerffel and Steve Spurrier were as close to me as characters on a show. (Now I rip on current students for being lazy at games. I'm an old man.) It is one thing to attend games or watch on TV, but as a student, you see players walking around campus and going out. That exposed me to how unprofessional and unfocused the Zook Era was. How was Bubba Caldwell supposed to learn his playbook when he couldn't show up for the Age of Dinosaurs at 10:30am? Why should I have been surprised when UF blew a 23 point lead at Miami, when the players were more excited to go out the night before than playing in the game?
Those stories are few and far between now. College athletes will still skip out on class and everyone wants to go out on Friday night, but Urban Meyer's cultural change was a 180 from the Zook years. But those of us who were there wear the scars and remember the losses to inferior teams every time UF starts slow. I'm not trying to bring down the room, but Florida is looking at a 2010 season that looks more like Florida 2003 than Florida 2007.
Based on Meyer's comment that there are seven juniors that are "quality NFL players" and Jeremy Fowler's estimate of five guys, we will assume three guys; Carlos Dunlap, Joe Haden and Aaron Hernandez. All of them have an NFL body and NFL talent. There are always guys who leave after a championship who shouldn't, so we will include Emmanuel Moody, so would get more touches in the pros than in Gainesville.
Now include Tim Tebow, Riley Cooper, Jermaine Cunningham, Dustin Doe, Brandon James, David Nelson and Brandon Spikes. Throw in the loss of Charlie Strong and Steve Addazio (fingers crossed!), and you're looking at a legitimate rebuilding season.
I think most people trust John Brantley, but any concerns about the loss of Tebow was stifled by having a high quality backup. How many of you trust Jordan Reed to handle the ball next season? The defense should be ok, with enough guys in the pipeline to take over (Brendan Beal, Jelani Jenkins, we've seen Jaye Howard and Omar Hunter), but who would take Strong's duties? Even if you do trust Brantley, do you trust Andre Debose coming back from surgery, when it seems like every Florida player returning from surgery gets hurt again? (Cornelius Ingram, Dorian Munroe. Apparently UF's team surgeon uses push pins and Elmers' glue. The failure of those surgeries is a story on its own.) Plus, without Cooper and Hernandez, who is going to catch Brantley's rockets? I don't see UF wasting Brantley's arm and sticking with the running game like they have done this season. But I also don't see TJ Lawrence and Omarius Hines as the answer.
The cupboard isn't bare, but playing at Tennessee, at Alabama, at FSU and dealing with improved Georgia and LSU, Florida 2010 doesn't look good. Just something to think about between your weekly heart attacks during Gator games.