Remember Fallen? The Denzel movie? The one in which Denzel faces off with a demon singing "Time Is on My Side" by the Rolling Stones?
That's been on my mind when it comes to Florida football lately.
For whatever reason, it seemed — to me — that Will Muschamp wasn't given the time he needed. And before any of you get all defensive, mad, or sad, just hear me out.
The first year of any head coach's tenure, unless it's spectacularly successful, is usually a writeoff. Florida went 7-6 in Muschamp's first year, and we all considered it a writeoff. And that's okay. There's nothing wrong with that.
By the second year, results are to be expected. And in 2012, the Florida Gators' football team delivered: 11 wins, wins at Texas A&M and Florida State, wins over LSU and South Carolina, and a Sugar Bowl berth.
You can sit there and say that it was false hope, that the team looked bad or that they were lucky and it's not going to bother me at all. Hindsight is always 20/20 and it's so easy to judge days, weeks or years later.
Was the team in 2012 perfect? No. I'll be the first to admit that.
But did they win? They sure did.
Any Florida fan would be lying to themselves if they said they wouldn't take a Sugar Bowl appearance every year. How they got there matters not. Remember way back in 1996? When the entire country and even some of us thought we backed in to the Sugar Bowl and that we didn't belong?
And then, well, the 2013 and 2014 seasons didn't go nearly how any of us wanted them to. There are certainly no excuses for how those seasons transpired. There are reasons, though, whether you choose to believe them or not. We've beaten those issues to death so many times around these parts that all that remains of the horse is dust, so we'll move on.
Whether or not you feel that at least some of the treatment towards Muschamp was unjust (I, for one, do), I think we have to agree that many of the complaints laid at his feet were about problems that were no fault of his. Sure, the head coach is where the buck stops, and head coaches tend to accept any and all failings, but that's not the point.
It wasn't Muschamp's fault that Jordan Reed fumbled. It wasn't his fault that half the players on the two-deep got hurt in 2013. And, believe it or not, I think whatever went wrong with Jeff Driskel in 2014 had nothing to do with Muschamp's ability as a head coach. For as much talent as Driskel has there's no reason why he couldn't develop into a game manager. Alabama has won a heck of a lot of football games with far less talented quaterbacks over the last decade; this is part of why one of the guys responsible for those quarterbacks is Florida's head coach now.
Time, in the case of Muschamp, wasn't on his side. To my dying day, I'll believe that Muschamp was a victim of unjust criticism and that his eventual downfall was a result of that. The results ended up not being there, but one could argue that as soon as Dominique Easley went down for the year in 2013 that Muschamp was finished. It was just a matter of time.
Even then, in the wake of a gutsy win over Tennessee that didn't make up for a bad loss to Miami, the Gator Nation had turned on him. And when that happens, whether right or wrong, there's no turning us all back..
This brings me to Florida's new head ball coach, Jim McElwain. It is my sincere hope that we — as fans, as boosters, as Gators — throw our support behind McElwain for the long haul.
Time is running out. Florida State isn't going to get any weaker unless Jimbo Fisher leaves, and we all know that the SEC isn't going to get any weaker either. Tennessee looks improved, Georgia is always tough, and as long as the Head Ball Coach is up in Columbia the Gamecocks will be alright.
Remember the early to mid-1990s, when UCLA was a lot better than USC? They fell behind, and it's taken them nearly 25 years to catch back up. They're still not quite there, but they're inching closer.
McElwain probably isn't going to win a national championship in his first year. We probably won't win one with him in his second or third either. We've got some catching up to do now. Coaches who win quickly, like a Lou Holtz, John McKay, Bob Stoops, or even an Urban Meyer, don't come around all that often. Joe Paterno was in his 17th year at Penn State before he won his first title.
And by no means am I suggesting that it would be all right to wait that long, or that I don't expect Florida to win another national title until 2032.
But things take time. Nick Saban won his first at LSU in his fourth year in Baton Rouge, and his first at Alabama in his third year in Tuscaloosa. It took Fisher four years at Florida State. Meyer just won his first title in his third year at Ohio State.
Heck, the last guy to win a national title in his second year was Gene Chizik at Auburn. It should be Year 7 for him on the Plains right now. Instead, he's Larry Fedora's defensive coordinator at North Carolina.
For now, with McElwain's Florida, let's just enjoy the ride. We've suffered enough over the past two seasons. Let's support our coaches and our team and let's see where the ride takes us. Let's not worry and start calling for jobs if we finish 7-5 this year and the team looks lost under a first-year head coach.
Change isn't easy. It takes some time. But time is on Florida's side now.