The phrase ‘drain the swamp,’ has been uttered regularly over the past few years in the political discourse in America. In a college football sense, that is exactly what has happened over the past eight football seasons.
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville has been home to the Florida football program for decades, but it wasn’t until Steve Spurrier arrived in the early 1990’s that Gator fans started referring to it as simply ‘The Swamp.’
The Swamp, used to be one of the greatest home-field advantages, and one of the most intimidating venues, in all of college football.
In fact, there was a 20-year stretch from 1990-2009 that Florida lost just 13 home games.
Thirteen home losses in 20 years.
To say that is impressive would be an understatement.
But times have a way of changing and college football is no different. Beginning in 2010, times began changing for the Florida football program.
Gone were Saturdays at The Swamp of Danny Wuerffel throwing touchdown passes to Ike Hillard and Reidel Anthony. Gone were the days of Fred Taylor touchdown runs and Rex Grossman touchdown throws. Gone were the days of Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin firing up the crowd.
Gone were the days of The Swamp being a great home field advantage.
In the past eight football seasons, 2010-2017, Florida has lost 15 games in Gainesville. Fifteen home losses in the past eight seasons, compared to 13 home losses in the previous 20 seasons.
Telling, isn’t it.
So, what happened?
It was unrealistic to believe the type of success the Gator football program experienced for two decades would continue. Florida was simply better than most of their opponents over that stretch from 1990-2009 and their home record was, in large part, a result of that. The Gators were darn good in that era away from The Swamp as well.
Although, maybe a deeper-issue is the overall environment surrounding ‘The Swamp’ on game days.
For anyone who went to a Gator home game in the mid-to-late 1990’s during the Spurrier era, or for anyone who went to see Tebow play in the mid-to-late 2000’s, there was just a different feel surrounding that stadium than what exists today. The intimidation factor that existed when opposing teams and fan bases saw the Gators run out of that tunnel in the south end zone was apparent quickly. That no longer exists today.
When Florida fans traveled to Gainesville on Saturday mornings in the fall from all over the state, they weren’t going to see a football game, they were going to see a beat-down.
They weren’t concerned if they were going to win, they were concerned with how much they were going to win by.
That no longer exists today.
How can that feeling return? How can Florida turn The Swamp back into one of the most intimidating places to play in college football?
The answer is a simple one: Dan Mullen.
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