Tackling Gator fans’ top five hot button issues in the 2020 offseason

Florida Gators

The coronavirus pandemic that has wreaked havoc across our planet is currently nothing short of terrifying. The good news is, if you listen to the advice from the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control, stay in your homes and just generally don’t do anything of the jaw-droppingly stupid variety, you should be OK. The bad news is, some people aren’t, which places those of us who are strongly committed to helping fight the pandemic more at risk if we so much as step outside.

With that said: one of the best indoor activities most Gator fans can think of is debating some of the most prevalent topics of debate that are flying around on social media and message boards. Throughout this pandemic, I’ll be providing more in depth pieces detailing my takes on each of them. But for now, I’ll simply preview the long form answers with my shorter form answers.

So, here we go. One debate topic at a time, here’s where I stand on each issue:

Kyle Trask vs. Emory Jones

The short version of the short answer is that I prefer Jones because he has the higher upside both as a passer and a runner. But that comes with a heavy caveat: he needs to continue to make strides this offseason and fully grasp the offense before he can be handed the reins on a full time basis. The coronavirus canceling spring practice throws a monkey wrench into that. From the limited reps we’ve seen from him, I get the sense that Jones is a gamer and plays better than he practices, but this hiatus isn’t helping his case. Also, a number of fans take the wrong approach when debating this in that they often try to discredit the QB they don’t want when the reality is that Florida has two very good choices here. So I’d prefer Jones, but I would be perfectly satisfied with either one of them as the full time starter.

Mike White’s future

It’s no secret that I’m pretty irritated with White for the job he’s done with Gator basketball to this point, and that’s being friendly. In the last three years, he’s had two top ten ranked teams and both colossally underperformed. 2020-21 is supposed to be better on paper, but that’s going to be the third time in four years we’ve heard that narrative. Even if White does take next year’s team to the Sweet 16, that will be just the second time in six years he’s gotten the Gators out of the first weekend of the tournament (unless you’d care to argue he would have done so this year as a #9 or #10 seed). And elite coaches don’t need the perfect storm of circumstances to have success. See Billy Donovan’s string of four straight Elite 8’s from 2011-14 with perennially evolving personnel. To me, the question isn’t so much “will he be fired” anymore as it is “when will he be fired.” That answer isn’t quite as clear, thanks to an extension that still has five more years on it. But unless next year looks drastically different than the past three, it’s a safe bet that he’ll enter the 2021-22 season in the unenviable position of needing to win more games than he’s ever proven capable of winning before- if he even makes it to then.

Trey Dean and the STAR position

Dean has taken a beating from Gator fans on social media for his play at a special hybrid position that isn’t really familiar to him. Some of it is warranted, like allowing Georgia to convert a pair of third and longs and getting flagged for a critical pass interference against LSU, but a good majority of it really isn’t. For one thing, taking over for CJ Gardner Johnson- more of a natural fit for the position- is a tall task in its own right. For another, Dean has had to learn a lot about the position the hard way, including adjusting to lining up closer to the ball than traditional corners and making split second decisions that can have ripple effects throughout the defense. I’m not sure if Dean or Amari Burney- who also logged some minutes at the STAR position last year- will ultimately get the nod here (there are pros and cons to both), but one thing I am sure about is that the lack of reps this offseason due to COVID-19 isn’t going to help either of them. This is probably the debate topic with the most nuance, and as is the case with the others, I’ll be going into further detail on it later on in the spring.

2020 Gator baseball team eulogy

They were the best team in the country. It’s really that simple. Not only was Florida ranked #1 in literally every single poll, the Gators had the hitting, power hitting, starting pitching, relief pitching and defense to win it all. The only minuscule bit of consolation I can offer to Gator baseball fans who feel Florida was robbed of a national championship by the coronavirus pandemic is that the best team in college baseball pretty much never wins the national championship. Since the NCAA Baseball Tournament expanded to its current format in 1999, only once has the #1 overall seed won the College World Series (Miami in 1999). For that matter, only eight times has one of the top eight seeded teams won it. But this team was a mold breaker, as evidenced by its school-best 16-0 start, and so it’s hard to imagine that they wouldn’t have at least made a deep run in Omaha.

Florida’s 2020 football season outlook

I’ve already published my first way-too-early game by game projections for the upcoming football season, and without any real clarity on the status of pre 2020 season practices- while at the same time assuming that the season will take place- I’ll instead go with the worst case, median case, best case and most likely scenarios. The worst case scenario- meaning a Chernobyl situation where literally everything just falls to pieces- feels like 8-4 in the regular season, simply because the schedule is too easy for Florida to conceivably lose five times even in the worst of circumstances. The median scenario is 10-2; losses to LSU and Georgia would be frustrating, but ultimately very much within the realm of possibility. The best case scenario? Well, obviously, that would be 12-0, because Florida gets a much weakened LSU team at home and Georgia has lost some 70% of its statistical production on offense, so beating both those teams would not exactly be a shocker, either. And the most likely scenario feels like 11-1; Florida would either split the LSU and Georgia games, or beat them both and get upset on the road by, say, Mississippi, as I projected in that hyperlinked article above.