Last week, in the wake of Matt Corral's decommitment/flip, I saw something for the first time: Genuine criticism and worry about Dan Mullen, Florida head coach.
And, on some level, I get it. Corral was Florida's best commit at its position of greatest need, and even if his star had dimmed very slightly from the "five-star, best Florida quarterback since Tebow OR BEFORE" status he held at the time of his commitment, he was a genuinely exciting prospect at a time when Florida's football program desperately needs excitement.
And losing Corral -- plus, losing him to Ole Miss, a school almost zero Florida fans consider a peer program, despite the dozens of games the two programs have played this decade apart from Florida's annihilation of the Rebels in 2015 -- stabbed at every Florida fan's fear that the last decade was a truly lost decade and the new normal for the Gators. Whether we wanted to admit it or not, Corral symbolized a brighter future; Corral extricating himself from Florida's plans darkened the horizon.
But that also came with a degree of pessimism that seemed well beyond what was merited. Mullen, contra some doom-saying, has done this head coaching thing for a minute, so charging him with negligence for slow-playing Corral seemed odd at best. Assuming he had just plain screwed up -- that he didn't have Justin Fields listening or Emory Jones planning to visit -- struck me as simply assuming the worst for the sake of doing it, because the belief that Florida is an exceptional program has curdled to a belief that Florida does everything wrong, for some.
A week later, it sure seems like Florida is on the verge of landing Jones, after a weekend visit to Gainesville that has left the recruiting industry buzzing despite Jones swinging by Florida State on his way home to Georgia. Corral, whose tweets have gone from the basis for bragging to a little too drowned in braggadocio for some, is not, so far as anyone can tell, leading a mass exodus of Florida commits to the Rebels' fold. And Mullen and his staff, who landed prospect John Huggins on Sunday and engineered the transfer of Van Jefferson, announced Monday, look a little -- or a lot -- less lost than they did.
So I'm left to wonder: Are there Florida fans so scarred by recent history that they're willing to catastrophize and caterwaul about a new coach less than a month into his tenure, and will those fans ever truly come around to hope again? And for those who do hope, where are the bright lines that Mullen could cross to make fear and loathing possible?
Let me know in the comments, please.