Florida football among the Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes has succeeded in rotating eras. Each program claiming separate periods of dominance.
Miami led the charge with five national championships from 1983 through 2001— a fact true Canes fans will always reference in any argument concerning the Gators.
The Seminoles claimed their stake with two national championships. They earned some of their respect by challenging the Canes for the top spot as college football’s dominate team.
Bobby Bowden led the Seminoles to 152 wins in 14 years. No one questions whether the Seminoles qualified as a dynasty.
The Florida Gators focused on dominating the SEC during the 90s and the 2000s. Along the way, Steve Spurrier won the program’s first national championship.
Urban Meyer solidified Florida’s mark on college football with the help of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and two more national championships. A fact any true Gator fan will always reference in any argument concerning the Seminoles.
In a true reversal of fate, the rebuilding of each program came in the order in which they dominated. Miami hit end first, and struggled until Randy Shannon brought the program back into contention.
After Bobby Bowden was forced into retirement, the Seminoles found an appropriate way to effect change. Jimbo Fisher now begins to build his own legacy, while rebuilding a football dynasty.
Head coach Urban Meyer and the Gator Nation must now find a new way forward without one of the best college football players ever. Added to the stress of losing Tebow, Meyer’s health concerns forces Gators faithful to face being a potential non-contender.
Suddenly all the questions have fallen into place all at the same time. Florida’s college football Big Three all start with similar guarded expectations, tinged with the hope of faith in the system.
So that begs the question; Which program do fans see as being the ‘best’ team among the group?
What’s the best possible record this season for each team?
Early indications coming from South Beach say the Hurricanes hold the early edge. Doubts do remain. Early preseason polls have the Canes ranked as high as number four, and others as low as number 14.
Shannon’s team will meet expectations head on with an early test in the “Horseshoe” against Ohio State in September.
Florida State gets the free pass out of all three schools. Most of the college football community seems willing to give head coach Jimbo Fisher a season to put his program together. Florida State could make a strong case for being the King of the state, if they beat the Oklahoma Sooners and Miami early in the season.
The season finale against Florida could be interesting if the Noles respond quickly to Fisher’s leadership.
Florida may be facing the most questions, along with the highest burden of expectation. John Brantley come with a great deal of accolades concerning his throwing skills. Skeptics point to the loss of a run threat quarterback, that may hinder Meyer’s spread offense.
This could be the season that Meyer goes back to the creative, risk taking coaching style that brought him success at Utah and University of Florida.
With the talent base that exists within the peninsula’s borders, all three schools could be rebuilding to a position of strength.
Who knows, we could be headed for a golden era in Florida college football.