The John Brantley Era: A Movie With A Plot Gone Horribly Wrong

Mikey Henderson got a step on Wondy Pierre Louis, and hauled in a 53 yard TD pass from Matt Stafford to increase Georgia’s lead to 35-24 and to put the dagger into Florida in the 2007 Cocktail Party.

The CBS broadcast showed the briefest, faintest glimmer of hope for a backup to Tim Tebow someday down the road- some tall, gangly kid jumping up and down, yelling at his teammates. After about two seconds, the telecast switched to Urban Meyer’s reaction- down in the dumps. But who was that tall, skinny guy shouting encouragement to his teammates?

You guessed it. John Brantley.

At the time, I knew that there was a kid named Brantley who was a lifetime Gator fan and was on our roster, nothing more. I knew Tim Tebow was our starter, and Cam Newton was our backup.

But midway into the 2008 season, Newton did what he does best: make a terrible decision that in this case got him rightfully tossed off the team. Since he was more comfortable throwing laptops than footballs (and certainly more comfortable running with them), Urban Meyer made the decision any coach would make: make Brantley the backup. Until college football switches from a pigskin to a Dell, every coach with a grain of sense will do the same thing.

Brantley began throwing bullets all over the SEC in mop up duty, and though it means essentially nothing, it was still exciting to watch. For two years, he showed glimpses of being another Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, etc. A guy with a big arm and plenty of appealing targets to choose from.

Then Tebow departed, and took the glory with him. Urban Meyer announced that he would tweak the offense to fit Brantley’s style (if you’re keeping track of lies, here’s another one) but that simply didn’t happen. The offense was hideous for a multitude of reasons. The short-sighted fans saw the first four games and said a win in a win, to quote Pat Riley. And the Gators did win their first four game. It’s hard to argue with wins. We see the same thing now with Tebow in the NFL- it’s not effective, but it’s winning games. The difference is, it’s an offense Tebow is comfortable running, and John Brantley could not be less comfortable with a spread.

Game 5, Alabama. Now the troubles begin, all at once. Not only are they more painfully obvious- Brantley can’t run the option, he’s completely immobile, etc.- but the Gators start to lose, badly. Alabama blows the Gators away. LSU similarly shuts down our offense, and if our defense hadn’t been so superb we would have been embarrassed again. Mississippi State, same situation.

Eventually, from the Georgia game forward, Brantley was demoted to third down QB. How a QB can possibly have success when he comes in on third and 12 and the defense knows he’s going to pass is beyond me, try asking Addazio or Meyer. It worked to a limited extent, as the Gators beat Georgia, Vandy, Appalachian State and Penn State- but lost to South Carolina and FSU.

Then along comes Will Muschamp and Charlie Weis, and a pro style offense. Gator Nation is ecstatic, saying we can finally have a real offense with some unpredictability and, you know, some downfield passing.

In a movie, it’s the perfect script up to this point. The main character gets beaten down and bruised, but then rises up from the ground and picks apart defenses like a surgeon. And it might have happened exactly that way if only the offensive line was decent. Not only was it not decent, it was downright horrible. For four and a half games, Brantley was much better. He wasn’t great, but leagues better than he was in 2010, thanks in part to guys like Chris Rainey, Andre Debose and Jeff Demps.

Then Brantley got hurt. When he came back against UGA, he wasn’t bad, but the blocking was even worse. Georgia’s front 7 could have staged a rock paper scissors torunament after the snap over who got to shoot which gap and still gotten to Brantley. Hobbled and sore, Brantley completed the game, and then the next the next three miserable games.

It was great to hear Brantley get a huge ovation on senior night for the FSU game. That was the best part of the game. He was knocked out again, and his season along with his promising career, ended there aside from a meaningless (probably) Gator Bowl against Ohio State.

For different reasons, the 2011 Brantley was again forced to scramble and make quick decisions- some of which turned out to be bad ones. He never got a chance to play his type of game, which is stand back in the pocket and fire lasers for 50 touchdowns in a season. He actually looked like that against Furman. Too bad our defense looked like little children, and too bad Furman plays in the FCS.

But he never really broke out against the great teams the way he was expected to, and for that, his legacy will be that he was the most overhyped recruit in recent memory; essentially a huge bust. No matter who is to blame for his lack of production, he still never got the job done.

John Brantley Quarterback John Brantley #12 of the Florida Gators attempts a pass during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field on October 30, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida.For some people, life is like a movie. Even if Tim Tebow winds up flopping in the NFL, there’s still a great movie to be made about his college career. He orchestrateted a four year fairy tale during his time in Gainesville, and nothing seemed to go wrong, at least not until the very end of his senior season. Then he went out and smashed every single game record known to man in his final game.

But for other people, it doesn’t work that way. No matter how much you try, it doesn’t always come out the way you want. No matter how much effort you put in, no matter how much blood, sweat and tears you give, there’s no guarantee that you will be successful. That’s life and it sucks for some people. Others make something useful out of it or try to hang their hat on something.

I blame just about all of this on Addazio. A little of it goes to Meyer for allowing the idiot to remain on staff and taking naps while Addazio taught Brantley to throw bullets to wide open fans in the third row of the stands.

Here I go on him again, and for good reason, because he so badly shattered Brantley’s confidence after he was overflowing with it entering his first year as a starter. I said before this season started that if anybody could restore confidence in Brantley, it was Charlie Weis. You guys overwhelmingly agreed. Well, it turns out that nobody could do it, since Weis didn’t do it- at least not to the extent we expected.

Addazio is so painfully dumb, he should be kept out of reach of children and monitored around mentally disabled animals. There would be a sign outside of his cage saying “don’t feed the troll” with the word troll crossed out and the word Daz written underneath. How a person can take so much raw talent and leave it completely undeveloped is beyond me.

It wasn’t just Brantley; the 2009 offense was slightly weaker without Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy, but the plays Addazio called did nothing to utilize the tremendous talent he did have- a trio of NFL receivers (Riley Cooper, David Nelson, and Aaron Hernandez). He has done the same thing- refused to tap into players’ potential mines- and left all the gold unexcavated and the talent undeveloped.

But QB’s get lots more publicity, good and bad, then other players. So Brantley was the biggest case of Addazio’s idiocy.

His confidence, and then his career, were wrecked by the Dazzling Fool. Addazio dropped him into the aforementioned category of people who just cannot catch any good luck in life.

He got beaten down time and again and even thought about transferring, but never did and stuck with the Gators until the bitter end. And good god, was it bitter- after getting a rousing cheer for senior night against FSU, Brantley was harrassed all night long by FSU defenders before getting knocked out- again. We’ve been through that. But it just seems so unfair for such a nice kid who has rooted for the Gators all his life to be so badly dissed by the game of football. And it wasn’t like Brantley had no talent and just wanted to be a part of the program- he broke Tim Tebow’s record for passing TD’s in high school. He was a great high school QB, and deserved better than Steve Addazio.

But that is one thing that everybody can say about Brantley, and it’s quite admirable.

He never quit.

He never threw in the towel.

He got knocked out of the Alabama game, but came back against Georgia, and didn’t play all that badly.

John Brantley is somebody that people can write about as somebody who they admire in essays. This kid had so much horrible luck, coaching, and attempted blocking, and kept refusing to throw in the towel.

See Urban Meyer? This is how a TRUE Gator acts. He remains loyal until the end, no matter how hard things are. Just like Maurice Jones Drew said, when the going gets tough, you quit. But when the going got tough for Brantley, he did all he could to get back on the field.

And so, Mr. Brantley, you deserve one final chance to limit the disappointment the fans feel about you. You got a horrible deal, but were great about it, and so you’ve earned one more opportunity to leave Gator Nation with great feelings.

And luckily, life sometimes gives people those chances. In your case, the chance is (again, probably) the Gator Bowl against Ohio State. Your toughness to keep fighting through all of this is incredible, and goes to show that Will Muschamp is the right man to lead the Gators.

Why?

The glass case in his office, with the steel rod that was inserted into his leg is what some call “Muschamp’s walking adversity” and for good reason. He broke his leg badly, but overcame that adversity to play four years with Georgia after nobody wanted him due to his injury. Upon being named head coach of the Gators, he vowed to make sure his team fought through adversity.

Remember, John Brantley was never Muschamp’s player. He was inherited by Muschamp, and after being knocked around for a year and looking helpless with Addazio, he proved that Will Muschamp was serious; his players would all overcome adversity. Even if they’d never done it before in their lives, they would with him.

That never say die attitude is present in all of Florida’s incoming recruits, and unlike Meyer’s guys, they won’t have Addazio around to ruin their careers.

Will Muschamp teams have always and will always overcome the toughest adversity to reach their goal. John Brantley is his best example, a player that hadn’t shown a lot of that resiliency prior to 2011.

Credit both of them, and maybe Charlie Weis too, but these two guys have proven what it means to be a real Gator.

Thank you, John, for never giving up. I appreciate it, and I’m sure other Florida fans do as well.

However, your career is not yet technically over.

Be honest people; is there a sweeter ending possible to this season than John Brantley leading Florida to a bowl win?

12 thoughts on “The John Brantley Era: A Movie With A Plot Gone Horribly Wrong

  1. He got a raw deal but he was also a bust… He’s a Gator and in my book he’s okay with me. John we will miss you man good luck in the future

  2. He got a raw deal but he was also a bust… He’s a Gator and in my book he’s okay with me. John we will miss you man good luck in the future

  3. sorry dude, but there is nothing sweet about John brantley…we could blow out ohio state in the gater bowl and I will still think poorly about him as a d-1 player..I personally would rather start one of our freshmen….cause the brantley era was over when he lost to GA

  4. Your article assume it was Meyer’s decision to make and Newton’s infractions were worse than those of other Gators.

    Newton’s only real crime was being a qb from Georgia when there was a legacy player wanting to play.

  5. “Will Muschamp teams have always and will always overcome the toughest adversity to reach their goal. ”

    WTF ?

    Yeah, poor guy has had the misfortune of coaching at such FCS and mid major programs as Auburn, LSU and Texas.

    Are you f’ing kidding me ? You wrote that like he coached as Vanderbilt or something.

    Jesus man…

  6. Gotta say this coach there’s no way on God’s green earth Meyer wanted Cam to leave. I just refuse to believe Meyer preferred Johnny boy over Heisman winning and national champ Cam Newton

  7. Nobody in their right mind would.

    And to say Newton’s transgressions were worse than those of players who were allowed to remain but were not blocking a legacy player is ignorant fanboy garbage.

    I bet half the people here think Harvin’s “injuries” were actually injuries, and not a hush hush way of disciplining him without painting a bulls eye on the program.

    To say Adazzio wrecked JBs confidence is to assume he ever had any; he looked ok in red shirts and when nothing was at stake. Remember, the coaches felt more comfortable using eggshell quasi Tebow than they did trusting JB.

    The fact is, Brantley’s a Sun Belt caliber QB at best, whose family ties got him a gig over his head.

    It’s not his fault, but enough of the excuse making and trying to rationalize him. He was not SEC caliber. Period.

  8. Finally someone who actually knows a thing or two about John. This speaks nothing but the truth and anyone speaking against it doesn’t know a damn thing about him or football. And that’s the truth.

  9. His teams there have overcome adversity.

    2007, Auburn vs. Florida. The 4th ranked Gators fell behind 17-3 in the Swamp, but then roared back to tie it at 17. Florida then held again on defense, forcing Auburn to punt. They got the ball at their own 42. Muschamp’s defense had just been burned on back to back possessions, but they stiffened and held Florida to a 3 and out. Then they kicked the winning field goal.

    2007 Chick Fil A Bowl, Auburn vs. Clemson. Auburn got torched throughout the fourth quarter, but stiffened up and shut down CJ Spiller on Clemson’s last drive. Then Auburn won in OT.

    2010 Texas vs Nebraska. Texas had just lost two straight and the team was reeling, but Muschamp’s defense clamped down and silenced Nebraska all day.

    Then there are the dozens of road wins his teams pulled off against quality opponents and there were plenty of big wins in general.

  10. LMAO. Yeah, he worked such wonders at those small schools devoid of talent and over matched on a weekly basis.

    The magic he worked at such Sun Belt level schools like Auburn, LSU and Texas is impressive.

    I mean, it’s not like he was at schools that acquire top 20 talent and he produced top 20 denfenses with top 20 talent.

    Oh, wait…..

    Chris Rock time again

    [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7f1M9Rc-V0]Your text to link here…[/url]

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