Craig Stephens

What Have We Done, Gators Fans?

Created on Dec. 03, 2013 3:52 PM EST

What have we done, Gators fans?

Look at this broken man standing before us, clamoring to all who will listen, “I’ll fix this.”

We did this to Will Muschamp. We broke him.

Muschamp came in to Gainesville as the top assistant in the nation and he knew how to win football games. He was a Saban disciple, ready to return the SEC to its roots. He was going to make the team physical and Florida was going to punish all who stood in its way.

He was bright-eyed, like a newborn deer, full of hope, full of life, finding his footing. He struggled in his first season. After a three-game losing streak, we yelled.

Time to grow up, Bambi!

And grow he did. He fought his way to a bowl game and defeated the villainous Ohio State, a team that hasn’t lost since.

In year two, we giggled in disbelief when he beat LSU, roared with laughter at our good fortune when he bullied South Carolina, and cried with Jordan Reed when the Bulldogs and that evil magician Mark Richt ruined our perfect season. But we rallied.

It’s OK, Bambi. It’s only one loss, there will be other perfect seasons.

Then, we turned on this beautiful young doe in his third season.

It wasn’t always like this. We were patient when the Gators fumbled away their game against Miami. We smiled when Florida won three in a row, beaming at our valiant Gators and their magnanimous leader for winning in the SEC with their backup quarterback, looking back on the Miami game as a small speed bump toward prosperity.

We excused the loss to LSU. We reasoned that no man can expect to win against the mighty Cajun defense of the Tigers with so many hurt players. Doubts crept in when Missouri came into town and trampled us.

Missouri is a basketball school! They don’t belong in the SEC! Don’t let it happen again, Bambi.

We said that while ignoring the work Gary Pinkel has done, not knowing they would become the fifth-best team in the nation.

Patience wore thin when those dirty Bulldogs beat us once again.

Doesn’t Bambi know that Georgia should always be second place? He must know that they don’t belong in the same class as us. Letting them win three in a row is inexcusable. I don’t care if our whole team is hurt, Bambi. Figure it out.

So, we sat back with scowls on our faces, waiting for Bambi to turn things around. Our jaws dropped in shock as the Vanderbilt Commodores beat us. They defeated us! In football! We yelled and screamed.

This is unacceptable! This is Florida! Vanderbilt should never defeat us! We should never lose to Vanderbilt in any scenario! We don’t care that Vanderbilt has won nine games each of the last two years. We don’t care that James Franklin is building a solid program. My daddy never saw Florida lose to Vanderbilt, so I should never see it, either!

We were angry when it came time to play South Carolina. Looking for excuses to fire Bambi. But Bambi is a dreamer. He dreams of a simpler time. A pure game of football. A game not nuisanced by the forward pass. He decided that he would follow his dreams against the Gamecocks, so the Gators ran. And ran. And ran. And almost won. When we were ahead, we lauded Bambi as a genius. He was going to defeat the Gamecocks without a quarterback. Soon, the score changed and Steve Spurrier walked away with his visor held high, as the victor. So we mocked Bambi, calling him dumb. You can’t win by running the ball, even though he almost did.

Throw the ball 60 times with the third-string QB!

We bemoaned, wondering why Bambi couldn’t see that passing was the answer.

We exhaled when Georgia Southern came to town. We marked it down as a win and started calculating our bowl game odds. We dismissed this triple option gimmick. We didn’t care that they ran for 320 yards against Alabama a few seasons ago. By golly, this is Florida. That I-AA or hideous FCS tag before their name meant they couldn’t win. But when they did, we called for Bambi’s head.

Everyone should be fired. Bring that young dreamer and lay his head on this chopping block!

Every day our benevolent ruler, Jeremy Foley, let Bambi stay, we decried the state of Gators Nation.

We’ll never win again. Don’t talk to me about injuries, or stats, or variance, or bad luck. Winners win! Bambi’s not a winner.

When we held Florida State to its lowest point total of the season, we wanted a new coach. We didn’t care who, as long as it wasn’t Bambi. No matter that there are no viable candidates available. Who cares about last year? 11-1 was last year. I only care about now.

The pressure became too much to bear. The noise grew too loud to ignore. And Bambi, a coach who prides himself on loyalty and toughness, turned on his offensive coordinator. He distanced himself from his friend, Brent Pease to save his own job. But that wasn’t enough.

You’re still not a winner!

We shouted. Still angry, we wanted Bambi out.

So here he stands, a broken man. A man with Saban-like philosophies, willing to abandon them and change the core of his identity to pacify us. Our shouting has left Bambi broken and bruised, willing to give up all he believes in to make us happy. He came to town talking about defense and ball control. Now he’s talking about getting one of those up-tempo, high flyin’ offenses they run out West.

Who is this man that stands before us? That’s not the man we know. The bright eyes are dimmed. The dreams are broken. Bambi finally has succumbed to the rising waves of discontentment, questioning himself, doubting his dreams.

It’s our fault he’s like this. It’s our fault he’s no longer the same man he was three years ago. Shaken to his football core, no longer true to himself but coaching with the trends, for the fans.

Our voices did this. Just like our voices gave Urban Meyer a brain cyst, and sent him back to his family, who he then quickly left for Ohio State. Our voices have broken Will Muschamp and left him a shell of himself. He probably won’t be around for long; we’re all waiting for him to mess up. Even if he wins, he will leave when given the chance because Muschamp knows he is only one loss to Kentucky away from an orange-and-blue mob burning down his house.

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