The Sony Walkman was invented. The Knack’s “My Sharona” became the fastest gold status debut single since the Beatles’ 1964 hit “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The year was 1979, and eight-year-old Will Muschamp was living with his family in Gainesville, Fla. – and presumably listening to a lot of The Knack on his brand-new Walkman.
Also, 1979 was the last time the Florida Gators suffered through a losing football season, going a miserable 0-10-1 under head coach Charley Pell. But a losing season hasn’t happened in Gainesville since. Only Florida State, which last finished below .500 in 1976, has a longer current streak.
If Florida can’t find a way to beat Vanderbilt Saturday, the Gators will have a losing season and the 33-year streak will come to an end. It would also mark the end of Florida’s 25-year streak of winning seasons.
The Gators are 4-4 after last week’s loss to Georgia. In two of its remaining games (Vanderbilt this week, Georgia Southern on Nov. 23), Florida will be favored. In the other two (at South Carolina on Nov. 16, against FSU in Gainesville on Nov. 30), the Gators will be heavy underdogs.
At this point there’s no reason to believe Florida can beat either the Gamecocks or Seminoles. That means 6-6 looks like the best-case scenario for the regular season.
Finishing .500 would at least give the Gators an opportunity to play in a bowl game and win a seventh game, extending both streaks. That’s exactly what Muschamp and Florida did in 2011, finishing 7-6 and narrowly keeping the streak alive. On the other hand, the extra game provides an additional opportunity for Florida to slip below .500.
But if the Gators fall to the Commodores this week, all will be moot and they’ll likely finish 5-7 to fall short of bowl eligibility. And Muschamp would have to bear the lowly distinction of the guy who brought Florida its first losing season in more than three decades, something even the goaded Ron Zook avoided. With grumblings about Muschamp already pervading through The Swamp, a losing season could send him to the same fate as the Zooker – unemployment.