Football In Florida Turning Into Soap Opera
DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The legendary comedy “Blazing Saddles” featured the line, “What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on here.” While that line was uttered in the 1970’s, it perfectly fits the state of college and pro football in Florida.
From the Miami Dolphins to the Florida Gators, there’s more storylines and plot twists with state football teams than in Hollywood.
The Dolphins have been in the headlines for most of the last week. Everything started last Sunday with a loss to the New England Patriots. Dolphins center Mike Pouncey was met by Massachusetts State Police with a grand jury subpoena compelling him to testify about what he knew about Aaron Hernandez and a possible gun running ring.
Pouncey and Hernandez have been friends dating back to their time at the University of Florida. The subpoena was not the first time Pouncey had been under fire for something related to Hernandez since the former Patriots tight end’s arrest for murder.
Pouncey and his brother, Maurkice, both wore “Free Hernandez” hats earlier this year after their friend was arrested. Maurkice Pouncey, along with his team the Pittsburgh Steelers, immediately apologized for the incident and the hats.
Mike Pouncey has never apologized or spoken about the hat incident and the Dolphins have never addressed the issue either.
Last Tuesday, things really began to deteriorate in Davie when offensive tackle Jonathan Martin left the team. His departure wasn’t known or reported for a few days, but by Thursday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Martin’s absence was the story for the Miami Dolphins.
It was originally reported that Martin left due to an incident in the lunch room, but multiple reports have since come out that stated Martin left because of long-term bullying at the hands of guard Richie Incognito.
The situation continues to deteriorate as Martin isn’t returning to the team and Incognito was suspended indefinitely after text messages and voice mails were turned over to the team documenting alleged racial and verbal threats.
The problems off the field for the Dolphins are a distraction from a team that has underperformed on the field. The Fins are 4-4 and at the halfway point of the season. Miami spent more than $200 million in the offseason to put together a contender and between poor play on the field and distractions off the field; Miami looks like it’s in trouble in the second half of the season.
Up the road in Tampa, the Buccaneers are one of the NFL’s only winless teams. The Bucs have been struggling under second-year head coach Greg Schiano and have already gotten rid of a starting quarterback this season.
The Bucs began the season under dark clouds with regards to quarterback Josh Freeman. Reports came out that he had his captain status stripped from him because he missed a team photo and other reports painted a divided locker room.
Schiano came under fire for his methods with the team and the fact that he’s lost 13 of his last 14 games as the head coach in Tampa. The ownership got rid of Freeman and kept Schiano, but the losing hasn’t stopped.
Tampa took a large lead over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday only to watch the Hawks come storming back and eventually win the game in overtime. Incidentally, the Buccaneers’ next opponent is the Miami Dolphins on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. It could end up being the Dysfunctional Bowl.
In Jacksonville, the Jaguars are arguably the worst team in the NFL. The Jags haven’t stayed within double-digits of any opponent in 2013 and some fans joked that the team was an underdog to the bye week.
The Jags are dead last in the league in total offense and have scored just 86 points through eight games this season, or just more than 10 points per game. The Jaguars offense rank next to last in rushing offense, last in kicking and punting, and last in total offensive yards.
The Jaguars and the Buccaneers have eight games left to avoid joining the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to play an entire season without a victory.
While the pro teams are struggling, most of the college teams are not doing much better.
The University of South Florida was blown off the field by a Football Championship Subdivision team to start off the season. FIU has only won one game, against a team that hasn’t won a game in almost two years.
FAU’s head coach was fired last week amidst reports of cocaine and marijuana usage. The Florida Gators have fallen to just 4-4 on the season and rumblings are growing that head coach Will Muschamp may be gone after the season.
There are three teams though that has bucked the trend. The University of Miami Hurricanes has jumped out to a 7-1 record on the season and appears poised to make an appearance in the ACC Championship game.
The Florida State Seminoles are carrying the football banner for the state. FSU has been dominating opponents throughout the season and have completed the hardest part of the team’s schedule. FSU is 8-0 and looks like it can get to the ACC Championship game with a perfect record.
If FSU can beat Miami again in the ACC Championship Game, the Noles have a great shot at playing in the BCS National Championship Game.
Finally, not to be forgotten are the University of Central Florida Golden Knights. UCF is ranked 21st and is 6-1 on the season with the only loss being to 13th ranked South Carolina by three points. UCF’s last game saw the Knights blow out the University of Connecticut 62-17.
UCF has no games against ranked opponents left on the schedule and is poised to make a run at the AAC’s inaugural championship this season. UCF is trailing only Houston in the AAC standings and holds a head-to-head win over Louisville.