Guest written by Dan Richman, Gator Booster since 2010
Once the dust settled from the embarrassing loss in Lexington, the Gator fanbase reaction was predictable. If ONLY we recruited better. If only our 91.09 average (7th in the country) was higher, we’d have overcome eight false starts & a blocked kick TD.
The #13 roster in the nation (Miami) lost to #56 (Virginia).
#12 (Notre Dame) lost to #54 (Cincinnati).
#4 roster (Clemson) was in a dogfight & barely beat #50 (BC).
And that’s just 1 weekend. Ask #10 (USC) and #11 (Texas) how that’s going. How about
From the past few decades of what my eyeballs have observed, winning in college football comes down to five factors:
1) Roster talent via recruiting/portal
2) Player development
3) In-game coaching
4) QB play
Roster talent is critical. I’m not minimizing that. And yes, you have to be VERY good at talent acquisition to win titles. And YES, Dan Mullen needs to improve this aspect of the Florida program. No doubt.
Alabama has skewed our perception. They’ve won 6 of the last 12 national titles. And they do EVERYTHING well. Not just roster. EVERYTHING. And so the casual fan thinks it’s all about the roster. Well, Georgia’s roster has been right there, too! How many natties in Athens? How many SEC titles? Oh right, just the ONE SEC title (2017), when they drew a hobbled Auburn in a rematch in the SEC Championship Game.
Roster has nothing to do with why Florida lost to Kentucky. Florida lost to Kentucky because it got mediocre QB play, bad in-game decisions, and bad luck. If #7 nationally isn’t good enough to beat Kentucky, you’ve got more problems.
And those problems are all really, really frightening. After watching the offensive line not play well and Dan Mullen commit coaching malpractice, Floriida’s season is suddenly looking a lot more like 8-4 than the 10-2 a lot of people had projected.
In any normal cycle (meaning, apart from the current era of the Saban juggernaut), if you have a roster in the top 10 or so, you’re in the ballgame. Yes, you have less margin for error at #7 than at #2 but if you get good development, in-game coaching, & QB play, you will be in the conversation.
Florida needs to improve the roster, but not by leaps & bounds, as some fans seem to think. The bigger problem isn’t the roster, but the seeming regularity of “fluke” losses to inferior teams (UK in 2018, LSU in 2020) and uneven performances week to week.
In terms of recruiting, I’d be satisfied if we closed ONE more 5-star (or high 4-star) each cycle. But in terms of roster, we’re pretty much already good ENOUGH to compete with just about anyone (see the game vs Alabama).
If you still have your doubts, I’ll leave you with this: you know who obsesses over recruiting rankings? GEORGIA FANS. Why? Because they haven’t won anything since Jimmy Carter was president. Don’t be like them.