Anyone who was able to keep their eyes open through the 4th quarter of the Florida-Miami game Saturday night noticed the Gators turning a 23-3 lead into a 26-3 lead, thanks to a 29 yard field goal with 25 seconds left in the game. Anyone that has an interest (vested or otherwise) in the point spread as of kickoff, knows that the game closed with Florida being favored by 22.5 points.
You may have also noticed Miami head coach Randy Shannon mumbling what, for any amateur lip-reader, appeared to be something along the lines of "that is BS." There was, however, no need for inference into Shannon's feelings about the late field goal during the traditional postgame hand shake between coaches. If you didn't see it, let's just say that Shannon could have slapped Meyer in the face and it would have been more affectionate.
First off, there should be absolutely no doubt what Meyer's intentions were with the late field goal. Take a look at the last 3 possessions of the game. Start with 7:28 to go in the 4th quarter and the Gators already up 23-3. After the Gators recovered a Miami fumble on their own 33, Florida ran 8 plays, 5 of them passes. One of them was a 52 yard touchdown from Tim Tebow to Louis Murphy that was called back thanks to an illegal formation penalty against Florida. The drive stalled and the Gators punted. Miami then went 3 and out and punted to Brandon James, who returned the ball down to the Miami 16. The mighty Gators then preceded to run two straight no-back sets with Tebow still in the game. The first pass play being a 9 yard gain, the 2nd being an incomplete fade route toward Murphy in the end zone. On 3rd and 1, the Gators went for the 1st down, but their vaunted running game (Florida's rushing totals from its running backs Saturday night: 9 carries for 14 yards) was stuffed for a 4 yard loss. Then, the field goal to beat the number. The combination of moan and roar coming from south Nevada was deafening, even 2200 miles away in Gainesville.
This was a 3-possession game with half a quarter remaining. Miami couldn't have moved the ball on a Pop Warner team Saturday night. The game was over. If Meyer had chosen to go for it on 4th and 5 from the 12 yard line, this is a moot point. I don't have a problem with him running up the score. That's his decision as the head coach, and the old cliche certainly applies: it is Miami's job to stop Florida. I'm also not going to play high and mighty and tell you that Mark Richt would have taken a knee, although if you held a gun to me I'd say he probably would have just killed the clock and taken the 23-3 victory. Maybe he would have just run the ball and tried to get a backup running back a touchdown. In all likelihood, he would have just gone for it on 4th and 5, most likely with Joe Cox under center. But not St. Urban. He kicks a field goal with 25 seconds left to cover the spread by exactly 1/2 point.
In addition to his "snub" of Meyer shortly after time expired, Shannon had plenty to say after the game: “Sometimes when you do things and people see what kind of person you really are, you turn a lot of people off.....take from that what you want. It helped us more than you will ever know.” (South Florida Sun-Sentinel) Meyer denied as much in his weekly television show on the Sunshine Network, although he didn't exactly expound on it.
In any case, you can be sure that Shannon won't forget, and that Meyer probably doesn't care. That's just the kind of guy he seems to be. But make no mistake, we know what Meyer's intentions were from the 7:28 mark of the 4th quarter until the clock hit zero. You, me, Randy Shannon, and the world all know it. Meyer knew the Vegas number and he was determined to beat it. Now, by no means am I inferring that Meyer had any interest of his own in what the spread was. I might think he is a scumbag, but I wouldn't ever say that he had any "personal interest" in covering the spread, unless maybe he thought that recruits in the state of Florida might think more highly of the his program if they won a game against an in-state rival by more than the "experts" thought he would. You just don't normally notice a more blatantly intentional effort to beat a big point spread, as what we saw last night. I can't imagine that Mike Slive or the NCAA powers that be loved what they saw.
I certainly hope that we see St. Urban get what's coming to him, and that we see it soon. (God willing that one day Randy Shannon gets to hand it to him.) I'd get the most satisfaction from seeing the Dawgs give it to him, but I'm really not sure I can wait until November 1st for that.