Do the Florida Gators have a penalty problem?

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators committed the third-most penalties last season. Is it bad luck, youth or a potential long term problem?

I can't really recall the number of times last season during a game in which the comments on here revolved around the referees. But I will be willing to wager a decent amount of money that the number is pretty high. I will also freely admit that at times I was amongst the crowd calling for someone's head, especially during the Florida State game.

In the end though, that Florida State game was wonderful.

But the reason I bring this up is a comment that a Twitter follower made to me following a comment in the most recent edition of Chomping at Bits: Do the Florida Gators have a problem with committing penalties, whether it's youth, bad luck or whatever? Or does it just seem that way because we watch the Gators more than any other team?

I've always been of the belief that penalties are arbitrary and subject to the opinion of a specific referee, but how much of that is really true? I guess the only way to truly find out the answer is to become a referee, but I don't see that happening in the near future. Sure, a coach can influence a ref by pointing out something and getting the ref to focus on that area. And I've said it before and I'll say it again: I think that Will Muschamp is doing himself no favors with his antics towards refs on the sidelines.

But who knows for sure? I guess I'll just have to keep thinking that until someone proves or says otherwise.

Last season, the Gators committed 103 penalties, which was good for a tie with the Oregon Ducks for 121st overall out of 124 teams. I don't know about you, but that's about as good as last place to me.

So how about the year before? Well, they were better, albeit slightly. The Gators finished 2011 with 100 penalties, which put them 115th out of 120 teams and in yet another tie with the Ducks.

Just so that you're well informed, and for the sake of comparison: The Gators had 101 penalties in 2010, 95 in 2009, 102 in 2008 and 107 in 2007. In 2008, the Gators won the BCS National Championship ... and committed their second-most penalties that we've seen from the Gators since Tim Tebow stepped in as a starter.

So while it's clear that Muschamp and the rest of the coaching staff have some work to do in that area, how much of the responsibility is on them to correct the problem?

I'm certain that youth plays a role. In 2007, the Gators were one of the youngest teams I can remember. It seemed as if everybody on the entire roster was a freshman or a sophomore.

But how does that explain 2008? You'd think that the number of penalties would decrease by more than one every other game or so, right?

What about 2009, when the Gators were an upperclassman-laden squad? The theory of age matters gets some credence there, as the Gators committed the fewest amount of total penalties we've seen from them in the last half decade.

I'm willing to chalk that last year of Urban's tenure up to him not caring at all. He obviously didn't care on so many levels, so what's another one?

Then again, in Muschamp's first year, the problem remained. As mentioned above, the Gators had 100 penalties and it only got worse last year.

How does discipline factor in? People associate good disciplined teams with those who commit the fewest penalties and while that's probably fair, I don't think it tells the whole story. Although I will say that in 2012 the five least-penalized teams were, in order: Air Force (44 penalties), Kansas (45), Army (47), Navy (47) and Boston College (48). I guess it pays to be a service academy.

In 2011, Navy was the least-penalized team in the country, and Army finished tied for third with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Oh and Boston College came in as the sixth fewest penalized team. So basically, all you have to be is a service academy or Boston College and you'll get the benefit of the calls. Apparently more often than not.

But on a more serious end note, I'm not sure how to fix the problem because age doesn't seem to be a factor, at least for the Gators. It's got to be more luck than anything. I'm sure the Arkansas Razorbacks will attest to that.

All I know is that I'm going to start looking at prop bets for the Gators and penalties. I'm fairly sure the over/under for something like that would be set at 100.

And I would probably end up taking the over.

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