Have you heard the joke about the Florida fan who went to a restaurant and ordered a filet mignon, baked potato and asparagus tips?
After a few minutes, the waiter brought out a plate of dog food.
“I’m not eating that!” the fan said.
“My, my,” the waiter snapped. “You Florida fans sure are spoiled.”
Hey, I didn’t say it was Jerry Seinfeld material. It merely illustrates how Florida followers are wrongly perceived as college football’s most demanding, ungrateful and unforgiving fans.
It’s also a cautionary tale to any coach thinking of applying for the UF opening. If the Gators don’t go 11-1 in the first year and average 43.8 points a game, some feel you'll be run out of Gainesville faster than you can say William Lawrence Muschamp.
If you believe that, you need to re-take the pulse of Gator Nation.
The first truth is fans are overly demanding at almost every school. If a guy doesn’t want to deal with the pressure and the mega-millions salary that comes with it, he can always coach at Dartmouth.
The second truth is that Dartmouth’s jayvee team has had a better offense this decade than the Gators.
And the third truth is that UF fans have shown a tendency to outgrow their britches.
Blame Steve Spurrier.
A generation of fans was raised on his Fun ‘N' Gun productions, oblivious to the fact UF rarely sniffed even an SEC title in its first 80 years of football.
After 12 seasons, Spurrier realized he’d created a monster that could not be satisfied.
“Now it’s a disgrace every time we lose,” he said. “It’s almost like a relief when we win.”
Ron Zook’s struggles temporarily cured that, but that orange-and-blue-blood sense of entitlement returned with Urban Meyer.
When he won his second national title, some fans weren’t ecstatic because the offense wasn’t as entertaining as it was during Spurrier’s glory days.
That came from being spoiled.
What’s happening now comes from injuries sustained while banging your head against the wall hoping Feleipe Franks can spot an open receiver before he graduates.
If not Franks, how about Clarabelle?
That’s the name of Jim McElwain’s dog. Remember when he rolled into town for his introductory press conference and said he believed he could win with Clarabelle at quarterback?
Nobody realized he literally meant UF’s offense would be going to the dogs.
In three seasons, McElwain did what Nobel mathematicians considered impossible. His offenses averaged fewer points (23.09) than Muschamp’s (25.28).
Now McElwain has death-threated himself out of a job he was miserable at, but the narrative hasn’t changed. This from CBSSports.com is typical:
“There are fans at Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Texas A&M who would kill for their teams to play for the SEC title once.
“But Florida fans were spoiled. They were also bored. They are used to being entertained.”
“Spoiled” means you are conditioned to expect more than you deserve. So are Florida fans spoiled for expecting an offense to occasionally crack the nation’s top 100 scoring chart?
Are they spoiled for expecting the conga line of failed QBs to end and that the Gators’ starting QB could pass for more than 30 yards against Georgia?
Are they spoiled for wanting better than McElwain’s 4-9 record against ranked teams?
This is the University of Florida, not the University of West Florida. With all the advantages UF has, there’s no excuse for what’s become of the Gators.
The cautionary tale is actually an attraction for Scott Frost; I mean, the next coach. Florida fans have been reconditioned.
You won’t have to feed them filet mignon anytime soon. Just stop serving up dog food, and they'll think you’re a master chef.