We're doing a preseason countdown a little differently this year, with Florida's 48 for 2014. Yes, the numbering is a nod to 2013, but the entries in the countdown will mostly be reasons to be excited about the 2014 season, or ways to look at it, or ... well, whatever I want. And I'm going to have a lot more fun with it than anyone did with Florida's 2013 season — trust me.
And, yes, I'm aware we're behind. Two entries a day for the next four days should get us up to speed.
Inarguably, this has been the worst offseason of many Florida fans' lives.
That seems obvious, given that no Florida fan under the age of 35 had ever previously experienced a losing campaign for the Gators of the gridiron, but it's even more obvious when searching for a close contender. Last year's offseason had a bitter bowl defeat, but a fantastic season before it. 2010? Well, the 2009 Gators did win 13 games. 2004? We knew Ron Zook was on his way out if Florida didn't produce, but we didn't have the eternal feedback loop of the college football Internet to reinforce that possibility.
In 2002, sure, Steve Spurrier was gone, but the rightful 2001 Heisman winner was coming back, and that was going to be a thrill. (Mostly, it was.) In 1996, well, it was 1996. In 1990, Spurrier was back.
The worst offseason of most Generation X Gators' lives probably happened in the mid-'80s, when Florida was crushed by NCAA penalties for a variety of violations — but those middle-aged Gators were just toddlers then, mostly, and there wasn't 'round-the-clock coverage of much of anything, much less sports, back then. ESPN wasn't influential. Twitter's founders hadn't been to college yet. Everything was different.
This offseason has been made exquisitely painful by Florida State fans being the same as ever, but having a national championship to brag about and relive, too. And, of course, some of the memories of 2013 will be painful for Gators long after this offseason.
But the great thing about football is that it is football, and football — not whether a three-star wide receiver decommits, or whether a coach maybe broke rules, or even a guy getting arrested for purloining crab legs — is one of the best things in the world to talk about, because it's way more interesting than talking about talking about football.
And one great thing about Florida's 2014 season is that it's 40 days away.