Vanderbilt Beats Florida to End Long Losing Skid in Series

vandyolemiss-wrThe Vanderbilt Commodores have beaten the Florida Gators…in football…no seriously, they did. The last time this happened, Steve Spurier had not coached his first game at Florida yet. It was 1988. Ronald Reagan was President of the United States (boy doesn’t THAT seem long ago), He Cosby Show was still on NBC on Thursday Night (people used to still watch NBC), women had “big hair”and Michael J Fox was still making “Back to the Future” movies.

Florida had still never won the SEC, much less a national championship. The school had just been to its first NCAA Tournament two years prior. Since those days, Florida has become a national power with three football national championships and eight SEC Championships. They have played in more “Major Bowls” than we can name and have not missed out on a bowl in 23 years. All of that is out the window after the Commodores went into Gainesville and dominated the Gators. It’s not bad enough that Florida lost to Vandy, but they got hammered.

This has happened though not just because of the complete collapse of the Florida program that five years ago was winning their second national championship in three years and four years ago was going undefeated in the regular season. Part of the credit has to go Vanderbilt who is no longer the doormat of the SEC East. James Franklin is about to take his team to it’s third straight bowl. All they need is one more win to clinch that. It would be the school’s seventh bowl in their history but fourth since 2008. Granted bowls are much more easy to get to these days, but not usually for Vandy.

So what lesson should we learn from the fall of Florida? The biggest lesson is that nothing lasts forever. So when your school is enjoying success, do not take it for granted.It can turn around on a dime. Want proof? Lat season Florida went 11-1 and was a missed 23 yard field goal by the Pittsburgh Panthers against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish  from playing in another BCS National Championship Game. They went on the road and routed the Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee a little less than a year ago. Since then they are 4-6 and the Noles are undefeated.

That same lesson should be studied by the Gators and their athletic director. Things can turn around very quickly. Gus Mahlzahn nd the Auburn Tigers have proven that. But, without a new coach and a new philosophy, one that emphasizes an open attack on offense, the Gators will not get the ship righted soon.

Florida’s last four head coaches have established that the Gators need an offense oriented head coach to be successful. Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer, both offensive guys. Ron Zook and Will Muschamp both defensive guys. Any questions?  Somebody in Gainesville needs to get Art Briles on the phone, now.

Jim Folsom is a regular contributor to