Friday Forum, otherwise known as "the feature we will use to ask questions and spark discussions when the most important things happening in Florida Gators athletics are tennis matches," will be up every Friday around 1 p.m. Eastern. No shots at tennis.
So there was a fair bit of discussion about Will Muschamp's quip about Aubrey Hill's interest in getting out of Miami and joining the Florida coaching staff earlier this week. I laughed, you laughed, and no Miami fans said anything because I think they're still trying to figure out why it all went downhill from Willis McGahee's knee. (No shots at Willis McGahee, definitely my favorite non-Gator player of that season.)
But as trash talk goes, isn't a remark at a Gator Club meeting a benign thing?
Muschamp's not coming into this job with any outsized swagger; in fact, I'd say Urban Meyer's oft-quoted "top one percent of one percent" line counts as bigger talk than anything Muschamp's said so far. And Muschamp isn't taking the swipes Meyer did — the School Out West moniker for Florida State, for example. But I appreciate that he is conscious of the in-state rivalries Florida will always be a part of, and that he's got a sense of humor that could make good use of those opportunities. In that way, Muschamp doesn't remind me of his predecessor, but of the progenitor of the golden era of Florida football.
Muschamp's obviously not going to be Steve Spurrier when it comes to smack. If there's a finer diss in the annals of college football than the Ol' Ball Coach — yeah, that's how we're going to stylize it 'round these parts — decimating Auburn with this quote, I don't know it:
Steve Spurrier, Florida football coach, telling Gator fans that a fire at Auburn's football dorm had destroyed 20 books: "But the real tragedy was that 15 hadn't been colored yet."
I'll respect wit until I die, and Spurrier's one of the wittier figures in sports: For that reason, among many others, I'm a Spurrier fan for life. I'll also accept that Spurrier's wit was acerbic bordering on caustic at times, and that his arrogance wasn't always good. Hate that should have been lathered on Spurrier alone for his style and smarm got applied to a Gators resurgence that would have been pretty remarkable if anyone else had been the coach.
As such, it's been easy to hate Florida, and the football program (and school) has been reviled as a nouveau riche collection of snobs by a fair number of college football diehards. These are the folks who don't much care that the same program that has a fifth of the last 15 national championships; they care more about the none before 1996.
Spurrier's success with the trash talk ethos helps combats that criticism. We don't get Spencer Hall caring as passionately or writing as well about sports if Spurrier is only half as swash-buckling as he is, I don't think, and we as Gators fans certainly don't get a lot of the fringe benefits of a top-five football program if Spurrier's audacity doesn't translate to championships.
And if part of that is Spurrier joking that Auburn players read coloring books, well, I'm fine with taking some of that crassness as light-hearted ribbing. Spurrier knew where the lines were and danced on them masterfully.
I hope Muschamp can do some of what Spurrier did, both with his words and on the field.
And now, I want to know what you think. Do you like Muschamp taking a shot at Miami? Do you miss Spurrier's slams? (Have a favorite?) Do you think I'm not giving Meyer credit for a sense of humor? Let's chat in the comments.