When Florida takes on South Carolina on Saturday (noon, CBS or CBSSports.com), it will be the second time in as many home games against the Gamecocks that a former Florida head coach will find himself on the other sideline in The Swamp.
Will Muschamp will be the Gamecocks’ head man on this Saturday — and he will see players whom he recruited to Florida on the field for the Gators — but Steve Spurrier did famously precede him in coaching against Florida after coaching the Gators, doing so in every season from 2005 to 2014. Spurrier even notched two wins against his former team in Gainesville, taking victories in 2010 and 2014 that helped close the Urban Meyer and Muschamp eras.
But the recency of these returns should not distract from their strangeness. Prior to Spurrier, Florida head coaches seeing the Gators again after their departure was rare indeed — and didn’t involve being the other side’s head coach.
Tom Lieb coached Florida from 1940 to 1945, and then served as an Alabama assistant for three games between the Gators and Crimson Tide from 1948 to 1950. Bob Woodruff never coached against Florida after leaving Gainesville to head to Tennessee, but he was the Vols’ AD for a few matchups with the Gators; Doug Dickey, who took a similar path to Knoxville, saw far more of the Gators. And Gary Darnell, Florida’s interim head coach after Spurrier’s hiring, would subsequently coach against the Gators as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator in the 1992 Sugar Bowl.
The only man other than Spurrier and Muschamp to serve as Florida’s head coach and coach a team against the Gators? That would be Charlie Strong, who was Florida’s interim head coach for the 2004 Peach Bowl before his Louisville team walloped the Gators in the 2013 Sugar Bowl.
That was rare, and strange, much like it was when an Ohio State team that Meyer was set to take over played the Gators in the 2012 Gator Bowl, and this is rare and strange on a new level, because — thanks to a hurricane and negotiations with LSU — the lion’s share of the seniors being honored in their final home game on this Saturday will have to defeat the coach who convinced them to come to Florida to make it a happy one.
This is going to be a day of mixed emotions and weirdness, I think.
Here’s hoping it’s also a victorious one for the Gators.
Here are my 25 predictions for Florida-South Carolina.
- Both teams will combine to score fewer than 41 points.
- Both teams will score in double digits.
- Florida will score first.
- Austin Appleby will throw for at least 200 yards.
- Appleby will commit at least one turnover.
- Jordan Scarlett will lead Florida in carries.
- Scarlett will not lead Florida in rushing yards.
- Florida will have at least two runs of 20 or more yards.
- Antonio Callaway will lead Florida in receiving yards.
- Appleby will have multiple completions of more than 30 yards.
- Florida will record at least one touchdown pass.
- Florida will score touchdowns in multiple quarters.
- Jabari Zuniga will record a sack.
- Joey Ivie will record a sack.
- A Florida linebacker will force a fumble.
- Teez Tabor will record an interception.
- Quincy Wilson will make a big play.
- Florida will record at least one interception.
- Florida will allow fewer than 300 yards.
- Florida will allow fewer than 21 points.
- Florida’s defense will allow fewer than 5.5 yards per play.
- Florida will force at least two turnovers.
- Florida will win the turnover battle.
- Florida will not trail in the second half.
- Florida will win, 27-10.
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