Florida v Georgia

A thousand-percent official: Gators upset by FCS team


This past week, athletic director Jeremy Foley attempted to cool what many perceived as Will Muschamp‘s hot seat by saying he was “a thousand-percent convinced” the Florida head coach is the man to lead the Gators.

Saturday afternoon in The Swamp, the Gators drove a tanker truck full of fuel straight into Muschamp’s coaching seat.

The final score said it all: FCS Georgia Southern 26, Florida 20.  Again, in Gainesville.  Adding insult to the humiliation, it was the way the Gators went down in flames that’s most disturbing.

Georgia Southern totaled 429 of offense… and none of it came through the air.  The triple-option Eagles attempted three passes on the day and completed none, meaning an FCS team ran for 429 yards — on 54 carries, a 7.9 average — against what’s supposedly an FBS-level defense.

After the Gators had fought back to tie the game at 20 with just under six minutes remaining, it took the Eagles just five plays and three minutes to go 75 yards for what would prove to be the game-winning score.  Thanks to a second missed extra point in the game, the Gators still had the opportunity for a last-minute win but, in large part because of butchered clock management, the final drive stalled at the Georgia Southern 17-yard line as the last-gasp pass fell incomplete.

You can trot out injury excuses when you’re playing the South Carolinas and Missouris of the SEC, and do so with somewhat of a straight face.  Trotting out that tired line against a lower-level program is as lame and laughable as the Gators’ performance was Saturday.

Even worse for Florida?  They close out what will be its worst season since 1979 against No. 2 Florida State.  The Seminoles may well hang a hundred on the woeful Gators.

It remains to be seen whether Foley’s “thousand-percent” backing of Muschamp will remain in effect coming off arguably the most embarrassing loss in the storied program’s history.  At the very least, it should give one of the successful and respected ADs in the country pause.  And, perhaps, reason to rethink his very public and vociferous commitment to a coach who is quickly surpassing Ron Zook as the one who has done the least with the most.

And, hell, even Zook never lost to a Georgia Southern, either.  Chew on that, Gator Nation.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian

Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.