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Memo to Billy Napier: Mathematically challenged Gators are becoming a punchline | Commentary

Running off at the typewriter. …

A word of warning for Florida Gators coach Billy Napier: You and your coaching staff better clean up your act quickly because you are becoming a punchline — and that’s never good.

Once the laugh track cranks up, it cruelly and constantly perpetuates itself in viral videos and Internet memes.

Like last week, at the end of the Arkansas game when the kicking team comically scurried onto the field at the same time the offense was still trying to line up to spike the ball with a few seconds left.  As a result of all the chaos and buffoonery, reliable kicker Trey Smack missed a potential winning 44-yard field goal at the end of the regulation that would have been 5 yards closer if not for an illegal-substitution penalty.  Arkansas, of course, won in overtime.

Quite frankly, there have been way too many inexplicable special teams blunders to count this season. Earlier in the Arkansas game, the Gators had only 10 players on the field for a Razorbacks field-goal attempt. They had 10 players on the field again for a South Carolina field-goal attempt, 10 on the field for a Tennessee extra-point attempt and nine on the field for a Utah field goal.

And speaking of Utah, who will ever forget the hilarious moment when two UF players were on the field wearing the same number during a punt return against the Utes? The ensuing penalty allowed Utah to keep the ball and they quickly went down and scored a touchdown.

If you’re scoring at home, Florida’s special teams have now lined up without the right number of players seven times over the course of five games, according to Jacob Rudner of 247Sports.

How is that UF athletic director Scott Stricklin showered Napier with a seven-year, $51.8 million contract, another $7.5 million for his 10 assistants and $5 million for an army of support staff and analysts — and, yet, they don’t have a Count-to-11 Coordinator to make sure the correct number of players are on the field?

Memo to Napier: Once you become the butt of jokes, transforming yourself from laughingstock to esteemed leader is not easy and requires a willingness to confront your own flaws and make some fundamental changes.

I’m just spit-balling here, but maybe Napier needs to tear a page out of his old boss Nick Saban’s playbook and go hire a bunch of respected, proven football minds (see Saban’s list of hires: Steve Sarkisian, Lane Kiffin, Charlie Strong, Butch Jones, Derek Dooley, etc.) to become assistant coaches and analysts. Hell, former UF head coach and NFL defensive coordinator Ron Zook lives right down the road in Ocala and perhaps would be interested in becoming a special teams analyst at UF.

Everything you hear about Billy Napier is that he has an ultra-sharp mind and his attention to detail is impeccable, which makes you wonder why his team too often seems comically out of sorts.

Florida’s head coach must change the perception quickly because once the laughter and lampooning begins, it’s a long way back from ridicule to respect. …

Short stuff: Here are my top three things that take way too long: (3) A snail marathon, (2) Untangling headphones, (1) MLS Cup playoffs and the ridiculous amount of time between games. … Somebody asked me the other day, why the Seminole Tribe of Florida controls all of the gambling and sports betting in our state. The only explanation I could come up with was this: “We took their land and now they get to take our money.” … The Miami Dolphins are great when they’re playing bad teams, but when they play good teams they curl up in the fetal position and whimper, “Mommy, please make the mean men quit hitting us so hard!” … Mikey likes: FSU over Miami by 21, Oklahoma State over UCF by 7, LSU over Florida by 17, Jags over 49ers by 4 in Upset Special, Bucs over Titans by 2, third-grader over UF coaching staff by 2 (letter grades) on arithmetic pop quiz. …

I read in the Sentinel the other day where Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady was “baffled” by the state’s attempt to block a proposed amendment that would allow recreational marijuana use in our state. I’m not a marijuana user, but it’s always mystified me why Jack Daniels is legal but weed isn’t. Several years ago, when Jimbo Fisher was coaching at Florida State, he was forced to kick star cornerback Greg Reid off the team because he had violated FSU’s three-strikes-and-you’re-out university policy for testing positive for marijuana. When I asked Jimbo about the double standard involving alcohol and marijuana in sports, he surveyed the dozens of reporters sitting before him and asked the question that cut to the heart of the hypocrisy: “What if somebody told everybody in this room that you can’t drink another beer or you’re going to get fired?” Answer: Sports writers would be an endangered species. …

Did you see where Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer just got elected to his seventh term? Hey, maybe we should start referring to Dyer as the G.O.A.T. of mayors. After all, he first took office during the same year (2003) that LeBron James got drafted. … USC quarterback Caleb Williams went into the stands and was sobbing in his mother’s arms after last week’s 52-42 loss to Washington. Hey, you’d be sobbing, too, if you had to overcome a defense as bad as USC’s every Saturday. … And speaking of bad defenses, I still can’t believe Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud threw for five touchdowns and a rookie-record 470 yards in a victory over Tampa Bay last week. It was the worst defense I’ve seen since my old dog T.J. tried to protect the family home from an invading lizard. … And speaking of bad defenses again, how many yards will the nation’s leading rusher — Oklahoma State’s Ollie Gordon — run for against a UCF defense that is ranked 127th nationally in rushing defense? Headline: “Golly, will Knights be folly for Ollie?” …

Last word: In honor of Bobby Bowden’s birthday earlier this week, this quote from the late, great Florida State football coach when he was asked about the toughness of one of his hardnosed linebackers: “That boy don’t know the meaning of the word fear. In fact, I just saw his grades, and that boy don’t know the meaning of a lot of words.”


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