We continue our season preview, "Gators Rebuilding 2010." Until kickoff on Sept. 4 against Miami-Ohio, we will have a series of posts on players, positions and factors that will determine the Gators' success or failure this season. For all previous posts tagged as "Gators Rebuilding 2010" click here.
Like every aging white male, Urban Meyer had a little problem with stress last season. But, since he is the head coach of Florida and not an insurance agent or computer programmer, it made him doubt if he wanted to stay in his current profession. Once he realized this was something he could control, Meyer returned to flip out at reporters, recruit a tremendous class and generally be the same ornery guy in public he always was. The changes he has made are behind the scenes; more time at home instead of the office and delegating responsibilities among the staff.
What we don't know is how Meyer will react to a team that might struggle this season. If the Gators were to lose three games, it would triple last season's losses. I can't even think of losing four games, because it makes my stomach hurt to think of losing to Tennessee, Georgia or Florida State. Meyer, just like us, takes those losses personally. As good as we think we might be in looking at the big picture, we live week to week during the season.
How Meyer deals with adversity will be a hidden storyline this season. We did see some evidence of how Meyer might react last week in fall camp. On Monday, he was thinking about a panic button. By Thursday, everything was good. Meyer is coming to the realization that while these Gators are good, they shouldn't be expected to compete for a National Championship. Winning the SEC is possible. But you don't need a perfect season for that. I think Meyer wants to create a sense of accountability based on previous teams, but this one doesn't have the maturity or talent yet to do that. It's like asking a freshman to pass the same tests as a senior. It just won't happen. Meyer realizes that.
We also have to realize that too. As much as I can see a path to winning a National Championship, I also know that winning at Tennessee and FSU will be hard. I also know that eventually Tennessee and FSU will beat us again, just as we eventually started beating Georgia after years of struggling. Maybe this team is better than the 2007 Gators, but we won't know that until October. Just as that 2007 season was necessary for 2008 to happen, 2010 is necessary for a title run in 2011.
We should always expect greatness from our team, but be realistic in our expectations. The problem is that we have been spoiled lately. As Pat Dooley pointed out, my generation (born in the 1980's, graduated 2000's) has no concept of "Run, Lindsay, Run" or 0-10-1. It still stuns me to see old Gator games with astroturf and no skyboxes. Even now, when I mention Ron Zook to kids younger than me, it's as if I'm talking about the 1800s. Gator fans live in this season and the one before it.
With that said, enjoy this season, but enjoy it not just for the wins. John Brantley is Florida royalty, finally reaching the throne. But he won't throw for 300 every game. Chris Rainey might be the Next Great Florida Wide Receiver, but that won't happen overnight. I love Dominique Easley, but I expect him to get beat up the first time he faces an SEC offensive line. The sooner you understand this, the sooner you can appreciate these kids who are playing for you. Urban gets it. So should you.