Tonight begins the 2018 campaign for the Florida Gators. Florida’s 2017 season imploded before it began, with a devastating injury to team captain Marcell Harris and the investigation and suspension of nine scholarship players, including starting tailback Jordan Scarlett and All-American WR Antonio Callaway, from the team in the “Credit Card Nine” scandal. At a minimum, last autumn’s exercise in futility was the second worst season of Gator football since 1979, when the Gators closed a decade of mediocrity by bottoming out at 0-10-1. From a wins and losses perspective, only Will Muschamp’s disastrous 4-8 2013 campaign compares, and at least that Florida team points to a series of horrifying season-ending injuries as an excuse.
New Head Coach Dan Mullen looks to bring the program that holds three NationaL Championships back to its glory days. Naming Feleipe Franks as the starting QB, he hopes to sure up a position that has been questioned in the swamp since the days of Tim Tebow. Since Tebow graduated in 2009, Florida has lost four or more games in 7 of 8 seasons. After a span of 33 seasons without a losing campaign, Florida has lost 7 or more games twice in the past five years. Florida has played for two SEC Championships this decade, but the Gators were hardly competitive in those games, losing to gold standard Alabama by the combined tally of 83-31.
Franks still has the rocket arm that made him coveted out of high school, and he’s a much better athlete than most folks think. Give him a chance. After all, if Mullen, the quarterback coach with an elite resume who developed Joshua Harris, Alex Smith, Tebow, Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzgerald can’t fix Franks, who can?
Only time can tell what the team will look like at the end of the season, but the fans are ready to chomps, the field is ready for play, and the time for football is now. Are the Gators back? We'll see tonight as they take on the Charleston Southern Buccaneers.