10:09 PM EST, November 19, 2012
GAINESVILLE — Even when his Florida Gators were 7-6 last year and enduring one of the UF's worst seasons in more than two decades, Will Muschamp didn't shy away from advocating the famous philosophy of Bill Parcells
And, likewise, he's certainly not going to apologize now for standing behind that same Parcells philosophy:
"You are what your record says you are."
Right now, Florida's record is 10-1 and the Gators are ranked No. 4 in the country with a puncher's chance of advancing to the BCS national championship game. Believe it or not, it could conceivably happen if the Gators beat No. 10-ranked Florida State Saturday; undefeated and No. 1-ranked Notre Dame loses to Southern Cal; and/or No. 3 Georgia loses to Georgia Tech and then beats No. 2-ranked Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.
When I asked Muschamp about the chorus of critics who say the Gators aren't winning sexily enough to deserve a shot at the national title, he just smiled and cracked, "We don't play sexy, but my wife says I'm sexy. That's a positive."
We will refrain from evaluating Muschamp's personal sex appeal, but nobody will argue that his team is about as sexy as Nancy Pelosi in a pink lace teddy. The Gators don't just win ugly; they win Elephant Man ugly; they win Keith Richards ugly; they win Leon Spinks and Butterbean ugly.
Muschamp, who might be the youngest old-school coach in the history of college football, is much more about substance than style. He claims he has not spent a single, solitary second fretting about whether his team is winning pretty enough to impress the nattering nabobs of negativity.
"I've seen a lot of coaches that weren't good coaches that were stat guys," Muschamp says. "They worried about stats and they wanted to grab the stat sheet when the game was over. At the end of the day, the most important thing is winning the game and doing what it takes to win games. That's what we're judged on at the end of the day -- not style point, not stats. None of those things matter to me."
Full disclosure: I've seen a lot of Florida games this year and almost always come away thinking, "Good grief, how does this team have only one loss?! … How is it even possible for a team with one of the worst offenses in college football (104th out of 120 teams) to be in contention for a national championship?!"
The Gators struggled against Bowling Green and could have easily lost to Louisiana-Lafayette or Missouri. Then again, No. 1-ranked Notre Dame barely squeaked out 3-point victories over mediocre BYU and Purdue and was only able to beat a bad Pitt team when Pitt's kicker missed a 33-yard field goal in overtime.
Every team has some ugly victories, but it's hard to deny the Gators' have the most attractive résumé, especially if (a big if) they happen to beat Florida State Saturday. If this occurs, the Gators will have beaten four of the current top 12 teams in the country. In comparison, Notre Dame and Alabama have beaten one; Oregon and Kansas State have beaten none.
Even Florida's lone loss — a down-to-the-wire neutral site defeat to No. 3 Georgia — is the most impressive of any of the title contenders. Kansas State was blown out by unranked Baylor. Oregon and Alabama lost home games to Stanford and Texas A&M, respectively. Georgia got destroyed by a South Carolina team that Florida crushed.
"Our record speaks for itself," Muschamp says. "Being at the University of Florida, playing in the Southeastern Conference and playing the teams we've played … I don't feel like you need to politick much, other than to put your shirt on and show where you are and who you are."
Yes, it might be a good idea for the Gators to put on their shirts to cover up their lack of sexiness, but it might also be a good idea for the rest of us to realize that real beauty is often what's underneath the cosmetics, the makeup and the lip gloss.
The question everybody seems to be asking is whether the Gators deserve to play for the national championship.
A better question might be this one:
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