After the game Saturday in Gainesville (still working on that photo-journal), Florida fans were about as nice to me and my party as I could ever have expected. Seriously, I've made Ole Miss games at Kentucky, Mississippi State, LSU, Georgia, and, now, Florida. With the possible exception of my 2003 trip to Starkville, when the dejected dogs were in hospitable awe over young Mr. Manning, Gator fans were sometimes welcoming and rarely annoying last Saturday.
Perhaps "hospitable" is not the right word. Maybe they were just a little self-absorbed. When I led chants of "Hit Tebow," I wasn't met with glares or jeers from Jort Nation, rather a few cries of "...but don't hurt him." Before and during the game, Gators were so caught up in their own glory that they simply were left without sufficient time or energy to worry about heckling lowly Rebel fans.
And, after the game, the abuse we expected never really materialized. On the way out of Gainesville, I realized that Florida fans were still internalizing - this time, though, it was not glory they were caught up in. It was the blame, pity, and coach-loathing that is summed up by a statement a Florida fan laid on me yesterday - "Urban Meyer has been exposed."
I think that's a little silly.
Urban Meyer has not been exposed after this weekend anymore than Nick Saban has been legitimized. This win can't silence the doomsday squeals from Fayetteville that this was the first step in Houston Nutt's diabolical plan to destroy Ole Miss football. One weekend really does not reveal a great deal about a man's coaching ability. Except sometimes
The main point of contention, ironically for Rebel fans, was a decision to go for it on fourth down. Urban could have passed over the middle. I'll arbitrarily say that had an 80% chance at completion - it'd been working all day, except when Tebow's receivers dropped the ball. Urban could have kicked the field goal, which I'll arbitrarily assign 50%. It would have been a career long for his freshman kicker. Urban could have floated a screen pass to Percy Harvin in the flat - maybe 70% - but we'd gotten losses in the flat, and Percy had already coughed up the ball twice that day. What had worked all day long? Tebow up the middle. What saved Florida from a sure Oregeron-ing in 2007? Tebow up the middle. If the reasonable, prudent person called this offensive play in a vacuum, knowing neither the score nor the opposition, what play would anyone call for Florida on 4th and 1? Tebow up the middle.
It's the obvious call because it's the right call.
Florida's three lost fumbles "exposes" nothing about Urban Meyer. But don't tell that to Florida fans. They probably can't hear you over the sound of Tebow's post-game press conference replaying over and over in their heads.