If you don’t think it can all unravel in a flash and without much warning in the SEC, take a look at what happened to Florida this season.
The Gators put together a 22-game winning streak during the 2008 and 2009 seasons and have recruited at a level the last few years that most teams can only dream about.
And while losing talented players to the NFL such as Tim Tebow, Brandon Spikes, Aaron Hernandez and Joe Haden is always going to have some impact, little did anybody know that the Gators would tank the way they did offensively this season.
It was a disaster from the opening game, so much so that Florida coach Urban Meyer was talking about rebuilding the whole thing following the Gators’ 31-7 loss to Florida State to end the regular season.
Florida (7-5) was held to a touchdown or less in three different games this season. John Brantley, taking over for Tebow at quarterback, had nine touchdown passes and nine interceptions and simply wasn’t a fit in the Gators’ spread offense. They went to a three-quarterback system at one point to try and fix the problem, but there were no easy answers.
The Gators finished the regular season ranked 10th in the SEC in total offense. Jeff Demps’ lingering foot injury was a huge factor, and they also missed Chris Rainey's speed while he was suspended.
Offensive MVP: Quarterback Trey Burton. There are no obvious choices on offense. Demps simply didn’t play enough. Burton did score 12 touchdowns and was Florida’s designated runner when he lined up at quarterback. Without him, it could have been even worse for the Gators.
Defensive MVP: Safety Ahmad Black. He saved his best season for his last. Black was a rock for the Florida defense, leading the Gators with 102 total tackles, including 10 for loss. He also had three interceptions, forced three fumbles and recovered three fumbles.
Turning point: The 33-29 loss to LSU was telling, especially with the Tigers driving for the winning touchdown in the final seconds after executing the fake field goal. But losing the next week to Mississippi State, a second straight defeat in the Swamp, was when you knew that the Gators were reeling.
What’s next: The Gators will stay close to home and face Penn State in the Outback Bowl, their 20th consecutive bowl appearance. After that, Meyer has to figure out what he’s going to do with his offense, whether or not Steve Addazio is still going to be his offensive coordinator and who’s going to be his quarterback next season.