If you are a college football fan in the state of Florida, chances are you have heard what people outside the state – people like me – have sometimes said about the top three programs in the Sunshine State:
“Florida fans can have runaway expectations at times, which aren’t entirely realistic.”
“Florida State fans are relentless in expecting the very best. C’mon – Willie Taggart must get at least three years at FSU.”
“Miami fans were way too impatient in asking for Mark Richt to be fired at the end of 2018 (before Richt stepped down).”
You’re not a bad fan if you’re impatient.
You’re not a terrible person, if you expect only the best. Impatience is a part of the life of a fan.
Clemson fans wanted Dabo Swinney out in 2010. I did too. This doesn’t make us wrong. It merely means that life is full of surprises, and that the wisdom of the crowd – or a dumb columnist such as myself – will often miss the mark. Sports confound our expectations on many occasions.
Yet, for all the ways in which fan bases can be too impatient, it has to be said – in defense of these fan bases – that impatience is often justified.
The history and current reality of Super Bowl rosters, as they relate to the three top college football programs in the state of Florida, underscore exactly why the fan bases at Miami, Florida, and Florida State are so impatient.
As any Raylan Givens admirer might say, “It was Justified.”
Start with the Hurricanes: New England Patriot receiver Phillip Dorsett and Los Angeles Ram defensive back Sam Shields give Miami two more Super Bowl players. With USC having three players in Super Bowl LIII this upcoming Sunday in Atlanta, the all-time tally for Super Bowl players puts Miami in a tie with USC at 119.
That’s why Miami fans found it so hard to bear the 2018 season after very reasonably thinking that 2017 had marked a restoration point in the life of the program.
The Florida Gators – with offensive tackle Trent Brown on the Patriots and defensive end Dante Fowler (above hitting Drew Brees in the overtime of the NFC Championship Game) on the Rams – have placed at least one player on a Super Bowl roster for the 12th straight year.
And, they are guaranteed a Super Bowl-winning player for the tenth year in that 12-year period.
This makes the past several years – a lost decade in UF football history – so agonizing and irritating for the Gator Nation.
Then. go to Florida State: Los Angeles defensive back Lamarcus Joyner gives the Seminoles another chance to produce a Super Bowl champion player. FSU has 35 such players on the all-time list, with four Philadelphia Eagles winning the Lombardi Trophy a year ago in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
When you realize how fully and extensively Miami, Florida, and Florida State players have figured in the history of the Super Bowl over the past 35 years, you realize how profound a disappointment it is to see the Canes and Seminoles in their current state.
And, how disillusioning it was to see the Gators slog through the past several years before finally beginning to show promise under Dan Mullen this past season.
Impatience is not always a virtue… but neither is it always a vice.
Impatience can be a good and necessary quality to have. College football fans in the state of Florida could tell you that story as Super Bowl week arrives.
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