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.
This has been an offseason of questions for Florida. Is Will Muschamp the right man as Florida's head coach? What does he have to do to be retained, or fired? Are the Gators slipping from their perch as one of the nation's elite teams? Variations on those three queries — sometimes spun to discuss Florida's offense, or Florida's recruiting, or how many Gators fans will show up to games this fall —have been the staples of the discourse about Florida since the final whistle blew after Florida's loss to Florida State last November.
There aren't good answers to those questions. Not yet, anyway: My honest answers to those questions, as of right now, are maybe, I'm not sure, and maybe.
But that's not a bad thing. And as I hinted at in the first entry of the 48 for 2014 series, this 2014 season should provide clarity on any question any Florida observer would ask.
By the end of this year, we'll have our best understanding of Muschamp's competence, a concrete decision on his fate for 2015, and a good idea of where the Gators will go from where they end up.
It's painful, understandably, to spend your waking hours wondering about what's going to happen with this or that recruit, or what's going to happen in this or that game. I do this, but I also torture myself with not knowing and thinking less than I satiate myself by looking for knowledge and understanding; questions intrigue me, yes, but I know it's within my power to find answers, or at least clues, for myself. (And it's not lost on me that I have not just the time but the obligation to do that.)
But I try to remember one of the lessons of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy when I think about things like this. In that Douglas Adams-created universe, The Answer is 42, but The Ultimate Question is unknowable. (Adams once responded to those who asked about the number 42's significance by saying, in as many words: "It was a joke.")
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another theory, which states that this has already happened.
You can drive yourself crazy looking for questions just as easily as you can drive yourself crazy looking for questions, and you may never actually get any closer to understanding either way.
In time, we'll learn what we want to know, and have more questions to ask. The cycle will remain unbroken, and the carousel will spin.
I will be doing my best to not get dizzy and enjoy the ride. And I won't forget my towel.