Sports Commentary: Is Florida College Football Failing?

Jake Hawkins, Staff Writer

As the beginning of the school year kicks off, so does college football season. College football in Florida has a reputation of being wild, as the fans are very passionate about their teams and inter-state rivals. This year, the University of Florida and the University of Miami, two big contenders, both continue to struggle, creating worries for their respective fans. 

UF started their season with an opening win, 29-26, against the University of Utah, who ranked seventh in the nation at the time. This win demonstrated Florida could be a possible contender for the college football championship. Quarterback, Anthony Richardson, showed an impressive performance in both running and throwing.

The following week, UF faced the University of Kentucky and lost, 26-16, as Richardson struggled to throw the ball completing only 14 of his 35 passing attempts— with 143 yards and two interceptions. Richardson also had difficulties running; he had six carries for four yards. 

Following this loss, UF was expected to have a bounce back game against the University of South Florida, but it did not go that way. Although UF won the game, it was much closer than expected as the game was separated by a small margin, 31-28. Richardson had another difficult game throwing 10 complete passes out of his 18 passing attempts, throwing the ball 112 yards and completing two interceptions. Additionally, he struggled to run the ball with seven carries for 24 yards. UF then lost to the University of Tennessee 38-33, but Richardson redeemed himself by throwing 453 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Additionally, he had 17 carries for 62 yards and two touchdowns. 

UF played in a non-traditional college football game on Sunday, Oct. 2 defeating Eastern Washington, 52-17. UF won again 24-17 at home against The University of Missouri, even though Richardson would have another difficult game, only throwing for 66 yards, a touchdown and an interception. As of now, the Florida Gator’s season has been difficult, but it seems they are improving and looking to make some noise in the college football polls as they play Louisiana State University and the University of Georgia in back-to-back weeks. 

LSU is always a very difficult game for us, always. They always play us really, really well, even when we are highly favored. But we are at home and I think the new coach [Billy Napier] has the kids motivated, and they are gonna fight for everything. The home crowd, I think that they pull that one out. I think it is gonna be very close and come down to the very end,” Miami Palmetto Senior High School mathematics teacher Henry Macinnes said.

However, UM  is having a rough time, being 2-3. UM Appeared as a strong team entering the season, dominating their first three games. First winning against Bethune-Cookman University 70-13 and The University of Southern Mississippi 30-7. Changes occurred the next week when UM faced their first challenge of the season, losing against Texas A&M University, 17-9. The ultimate loss came when they lost to Middle Tennessee State University at home, 45-31 and starting quarterback Tyler Van Dyke got substituted from the game. Fans were devastated and lost hope for the team. UM coming off a bye week lost to the University of North Carolina, 27-24. Van Dyke had a huge comeback game throwing for nearly 500 yards and three touchdowns. The Canes’ scores demonstrate that they have almost no chance to be contenders after these losses.   

Fans of both schools are confused as to why their teams are struggling when they were predicted to play well this year. One big factor that is hurting both teams could be personal change. This year both UM and UF hired a new head coach. Mario Cristobal, former Oregon University football head coach, was hired at UM to help the Canes. Billy Napier, the new head coach for UF, was previously the head coach of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Both first-year coaches at the schools are learning about their team and environment. 

 “I do not think Florida is doing anything wrong. I think it is just growing pains with having a new coach and having little depth and having a talent shortage. That is going to take some time. I think we have already got a top-10 recruiting class coming in next year. So as the years go by, and [in] a couple of years, I think they will be right back at the top where they used to be,” Macinnes said.

However, one Florida team that usually struggles has found success this season, so far. Florida State University is now ranked in the top 25 polls for the first time since 2018 and ranks 4-2 this season. Head coach, Mike Norvell appears to have finally “got it right” in his third year at the school. With several new players from the college football transfer portal, the Noles have been playing at a high level this year. FSU looks to bounce back after losing to two ranked top-25 opponents in very tight games.