2021 was a sad state of affairs for the Sunshine State in the FBS world. Of note, the formerly elite programs have fallen out of the purview of the national stage - or are only recognized on the national stage for all of the wrong reasons. For the first week since November 20, 2011, no team in the state was featured in the AP Poll. This will be the first year since 1978 where no Florida team is featured in the final AP Poll. As the season progressed, matters got worse:
First, FIU parted ways with head coach Butch Davis and it was noted that the school was “sabotaging” the Panthers program that has not won against a Major/mid-Major in almost two years.
Second, FIU’s last win against a Major came against a cross-city foe in the Miami Hurricanes, who have not been the same since that loss. The Canes also parted ways with their athletic director, Blake James, and head coach, Manny Diaz, has a flaming hot seat. On the bright side, the U has found their quarterback of the future in Tyler Van Dyke.
Next, in Gainesville, the Gators are a complete wreck as they parted ways with head coach, Dan Mullen, just a few months after giving him an extension.
As far as the state’s overall results, the seven FBS programs went a combined 34-51 (.400 winning percentage). Only three teams are bowl eligible, Florida, Miami, and UCF, as just one of those had an eight-win season (UCF).
Needless to say, the decorum of play on the field in the state has decreased significantly this season. That being said, there were still some decent players on the field, which will be revealed tomorrow in part two of this season ending series as the “All Sunshine State” team is revealed. I have also included the outlook of each program below.
Dash 4Q notes on Florida, Miami, FSU, FIU, FAU, USF, UCF, UCLA, Georgia Tech and Greensboro beer. Thanks for reading. https://t.co/0ingWsfUTM— Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) November 24, 2021
Below is the final state of the state of Florida football for the regular season:
1: Miami Hurricanes (7-5) (Previous: 2nd)
Ranking: 54th (The Athletic Power Rankings); 42nd (CBS Sports Power Rankings)
Week 13 Result: 47-10 Win over Duke
Over the past couple weeks or months, there has been more focus on Miami’s administration than the product on the field. However, while Blake James is now gone and rumors swirl about a potential new coach in light of Manny Diaz’s hot seat, there have been some players flaunting their talents on Saturdays. In particular, quarterback Tyler Van Dyke has been a machine. Transfer wide receiver, Charleston Rambo, broke Miami’s all-time single season receiving yards record, while Mike Harley likely caps off a fantastic career with the most receptions in Miami history.
Let’s see if Miami can pull off a Bowl victory in what will likely be a low-leverage game (unless of course they get an in-state pride game against the Gators).
All-State Players: Tyler Van Dyke (QB), Charleston Rambo (WR), DJ Scaife Jr. (G), Zion Nelson (T), Lou Hedley (P)
2022 Outlook: The most obvious question is what happens with the head coach and Athletic Director positions? Much of the U’s fanbase has been hoping for Mario Cristobal or Lane Kiffin to take over the coaching position, which is why it was tough to see Canes’ players beating the proverbial drum on twitter for head coach Manny Diaz to continue building the program.
After the administrative areas are resolved, expect Miami to heavily vet the NCAA Transfer Portal, which is already filled with talent - including with Oklahoma receivers where Rambo transferred from. They should also put the heavy press on in-state recruits that are currently on their radar. Hopefully, a big selling point will be the staff at the helm and direction of the football program with an anticipated increase in budget, as well as Van Dyke leading the offense. They can also anticipate many strong returnees on the field as it seems like Rambo is the only realistic player that could be drafted next April.
-— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) November 30, 2021
: Rambo, Scaife Jr., Hedley
: James Williams, Knighton, Nelson, Stevenson, Borregales pic.twitter.com/1OOY0gD60m
2: UCF Knights (8-4) (Previous: 3rd)
Ranking: 53rd (The Athletic Power Rankings); 55th (CBS Sports Power Rankings)
Week 13 Result: 17-13 Win over South Florida
The debut season for head coach Gus Malzahn started out strong but when peppered with injuries, UCF tried to make the most of a poor situation as true freshman quarterback, Mikey Keene, has been able to get significant exposure. The Knights have also been able to assimilate sophomore running back, Johnny Richardson into the mix due to an injury to Isaiah Bowser. Defensively, linebacker Tatum Bethune has been a beast as he had 14 tackles this past week against UConn, as well as transfer defensive lineman, Big Kat Bryant.
UCF barely snuck by I-4 foe, South Florida, but a win is a win as the winningest team in the state seeks a bowl victory. As the Knights head toward a Bowl game, they will be playing with heavy hearts as it was announced that 2021 graduate running back, Otis Anderson Jr., passed away earlier this week.
All-State Players: Ryan O’Keefe (WR), Matthew Lee (UCF), Big Kat Bryant (DL), Tatum Bethune (LB), Davonte Brown (CB)
2022 Outlook: It looks like this will be Keene’s team moving forward as quarterback, Dillon Gabriel, has entered the transfer portal. Malzahn continues to try to grow the program as the Knights have a strong returning and recruiting class, with several high profile prospects on their radar. Running back, Bowser, started the season out as one of the best in the nation but was belabored by injuries, and he should once again be an elite player next year if healthy.
3: Florida Gators (6-6) (Previous: 4th)
Ranking: 60th (The Athletic Power Rankings); 64th (CBS Sports Power Rankings)
Week 13 Result: 24-21 Win over Florida State
The Gators parted ways with Dan Mullen and subsequently earned a close victory over Florida State in the regular season finale, which earned them a bowl game. Some suspect Florida will face another in-state foe in either Miami or UCF, but this is a far cry from their September expectations of a potential New Year’s Six game.
All-State Players: Dameon Pierce (RB), Kemore Gamble (TE), Zachary Carter (DE), Gervon Dexter (DL)
2022 Outlook: Looking at the bigger picture, Florida has brought on former Louisiana coach, Billy Napier, to lead the program that is already losing a number of top tier recruits and could experience some Transfer Portal casualties. And, at this point, the Gators shouldn’t feel safe with any player on their roster including uber-athletic redshirt freshman quarterback, Anthony Richardson. Napier’s goal will be to retain as much talent as possible but for a program that has lacked any semblance of cohesion and discipline, it’s going to take a lot to steer this ship back in the right direction. This is especially true amongst SEC competition that continues to get stiffer.
Florida Gators hold on, beat FSU as new coach hire looms https://t.co/fUbZbunClM— Sports by Tampa Bay Times (@TBTimes_Sports) November 27, 2021
4: Florida State Seminoles (5-7) (Previous: 1st)
Ranking: 61st (The Athletic Power Rankings); 80th (CBS Sports Power Rankings)
Week 13 Result: 24-21 Loss to Florida
The Noles barely missed out on Bowl eligibility after a tough loss to the Gators, but they did finish the season winning five of their last eight games after starting the season 0-4. To that end, head coach Mike Norvell appears to have a secure job at FSU. Even though they have not been a frequent flier of the transfer portal in recent years, the Noles got the portal’s prize possession in defensive end, Jermaine Johnson II, who catapulted himself to a possible first round draft grade.
All-State Players: Jermaine Johnson III (DE), Jammie Robinson (S)
2022 Outlook: After an okay season, Norvell now gets an early jump at re-visiting the transfer portal and retaining recruits. Notably, the number one recruit in the nation, cornerback Travis Hunter, has adamantly expressed his commitment to FSU. The Noles also have locked in a commitment from five-star safety, Sam McCall, and four-star quarterback, AJ Duffy, as well as numerous other four stars. Things appear pretty stable in Tallahassee.
FSU DE Jermaine Johnson II has made himself a lot of money this season. pic.twitter.com/Ui4VytDz3i— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) November 27, 2021
5: Florida Atlantic Owls (5-7) (Previous: 5th)
Ranking: 86th (The Athletic Power Rankings); 103rd (CBS Sports Power Rankings)
Week 13 Result: 27-17 Loss to Middle Tennessee
FAU started the season strong and appeared ready to seize a bowl game and potential Conference-USA title. However, they lost their final four games as head coach, Willie Taggart, explained the team was a little “banged up.” This included former Miami quarterback, N’Kosi Perry, who has loved his time for the Owls.
All-State Players: Desmond Noel (G), Zyon Gilbert (CB), Teja Young (S)
2022 Outlook: After his resurgence, it will be interesting to monitor whether Perry remains with FAU or gives it another shot at the Power Five level. Beyond that, Taggart should be good for at least another year unless he also wants to head back to the Power Five. As far as recruiting goes, there is work to be done as the Owls have only secured three hard commits for the 2022 cycle (ranked 11th in Conference-USA 247Sports rankings).
6: South Florida Bulls (2-10) (Previous: 6th)
Ranking: 122nd (The Athletic Power Rankings); 118th (CBS Sports Power Rankings)
Week 13 Result: 17-13 Loss to UCF
Despite finishing the season 2-10, USF played many quality opponents tough, and/or at least covered the spread. Even more, the results post-Charlie Strong have been poor. That being said, the Bulls’ outlook is strong, as discussed below.
All-State Players: Antonio Grier (LB), Spencer Shrader (K), Xavier Weaver (Ret)
2022 Outlook: USF recently broke ground on a $22 million indoor practice facility, which is set to open in the fall of 2022, and potentially opening up an on-campus stadium. As far as the talent on the field, USF has mostly built their team through the transfer portal. That being said, the Bulls were able to establish a true freshman quarterback-wide receiver connection with Timmy McClain and Jimmy Horn Jr.
7: Florida International Panthers (1-11) (Previous: 7th)
Ranking: 128th (The Athletic Power Rankings); 128th (CBS Sports Power Rankings)
Week 13 Result: 37-17 Loss to Southern Miss
Since beating Miami 30-24 in 2019, the Panthers are 1-18 overall and 0-16 against Major/Mid-Major opponents - most recently losing 37-17 to Southern Miss.
All-State Players: D’Vonte Price (RB), Tyrese Chambers (WR), Miles Frazier (T), Daniel Jackson (LB)
2022 Outlook: With the rumors of FIU “sabotaging” the football program and parting ways with head coach, Butch Davis, expectations for the future seemed to be at a low. Matters have only gotten worse as their star running back, D’Vonte Price, will likely be heading to the NFL and other star players such as Tyrese Chambers and Miles Frazier have already entered the transfer portal. Yesterday, however, FIU changed gears and focus of the program by naming Scott Carr as their new Athletic Director. Carr comes from UCF, which has obviously made serious strides in the athletic department and he hopes to make similar changes at FIU.