Are the Gators a team in turmoil or just natural transition?
When Florida completed practice Tuesday afternoon, head coach Urban Meyer was on the west coast recruiting. Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong was still in Louisville trying to assemble a coaching staff for his job as head coach of the Cardinals. Receivers coach Billy Gonzales was off to LSU.
Detroit news outlets were reporting that UF quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler is a candidate for the Central Michigan job. And talk has intensified about juniors who may have mentally checked out because they are too worried about their potential draft status.
And Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and senior receiver David Nelson were fielding questions about a team in disarray as the Gators prepare to play Cincinnati in the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl.
Is Florida a team in turmoil or just transition?
It all depends on whom you ask.
Tebow said things are somewhat chaotic right now, but he doesn't believe he's not quite sure it's any different than any other year since he's been with the Gators.
"I think kind of every year it's a little bit like that, since I've been here - last year (with) coach Mullen leaving - so I think every year is a little bit like this,'' he said. "But obviously there's some turmoil going on and obviously some things that have to get straightened out and get re-focused, and I think that'll come by Christmas time or so.''
But running backs coach Kenny Carter said the coaching changes don't indicate problems within the staff and hasn't caused any problems with practice or the team's cohesiveness.
"The receivers coach was hired the next day, so we got the receivers coach and moved forward,'' Carter said. "We love Billy. Billy's a great friend, but we got another receivers coach and we moved forward. That's what happens. In this profession, you're going to have transition. It's part of it. You get another coach. There's a long line of people that want to coach at Florida, so we're moving right along."
But Gonzales' departure did catch many by surprise, including his receivers.
"He stated many times he was happy here, he loved it here,'' Nelson said. "Him and coach Meyer have a special relationship because he played under coach Meyer. I was completely shocked. I had no idea, especially to go to a place like LSU. I was completely shocked, I had no idea. After the SEC Championship, he was the one that was the one that was consoling me and telling me that he had me for one more game, just to keep my head up. . . . It took me by complete surprise that he left.''
Even Tebow acknowledged that he wasn't surprised Gonzales may have felt slighted by not being offered the offensive coordinator's job last year when Mullen left to become the head coach at Mississippi State.
"I think that he was competitive, so I think yeah he wanted it,'' Tebow said. "I don’t think it was anything that I noticed too much, but I could see how that could be.''
As for the multiple juniors who most likely leaving, including CB Joe Haden, TE Aaron Hernandez and OL Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, Tebow said he doesn't believe the players bailed on the team prior to the SEC title game.
"I don’t know. If they were, I don’t even want to think about it,'' he said. "I don’t think anybody was. I don’t even think that would be true. If they did, it’s not part of the team I’m a part of.''
Which team shows up at the Sugar Bowl is anybody's guess.