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Florida State Seminoles

Is Florida’s “lost decade” over? If so, rivals beware

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Hang around college football fans long enough, particularly ones that have seen their team rise to the top of the college football world only to fall on hard times, and you’ll likely eventually hear this phrase: “the lost decade.”

Most of the time it’s not a full decade, but you’ll see runs under legendary coaches come to an end and programs struggle to find their footing in the aftermath.

Tennessee after Phillip Fulmer. Miami after Larry Coker. Florida after Urban Meyer.

Florida fans are probably a little too familiar with the term at the moment. Since Urban Meyer left, the Gators have been stuck in the doldrums, brought tantalizingly close to thinking they’re back on a handful of occasions over the past decade only to watch those hopes crumble.

Has it really already been a decade since Tim Tebow was smashing through opposing defenses? It seems hard to believe, but here we are.

With the offseason upon us, Swamp247 thought it would be interesting to see how Florida’s so-called “lost decade” stacks up to its chief rivals’ results in the last 10 years. Turns out it’s not quite as bad as you might expect, perhaps a sign that that floor in Gainesville is actually pretty high and turnarounds are never all that far away from materializing.

Since we’re using the term “lost decade,” we’ll go back a full 10 years, though as noted most powerhouse programs don’t endure a full 10 years of mediocrity. Florida’s most-recent 10-year period began with a 12-0 regular season before the Alabama juggernaut ultimately derailed Florida’s trajectory quite significantly, hastening the exit of Urban Meyer and marking the beginning of a long road back.

Still, Florida can boast some impressive numbers over the last 10 years.

The Gators have claimed four division titles in that span, as many as any of their four chief rivals (Florida State [4], Georgia [4], Miami [1] and Tennessee [0]) managed during that span.

Florida also appeared in eight bowl games, including three appearances in a BCS or New Year’s Six bowl. Only Florida State has more over the last 10 years, appearing in five. Georgia, though, is making quick progress with its two appearances in the last decade both coming in the last two years.

Meanwhile, Florida’s overall winning percentages both overall and in conference stack up reasonably favorably to both Florida State and Georgia, who have been on no such skid of late, while surpassing Miami’s and Tennessee’s.

So while things have been down for Florida football, the Gators are still well within striking distance of their chief rivals on paper. And, in fact, Florida appears to be quickly turning things around in the in-state rivalry against Florida State.

So much so that coach Dan Mullen is thrilled with where his program is at after a successful 10-win campaign in his first year.

“You ask what a successful season is, and it’s you got better every single day,” Mullen said after a Peach Bowl win over Michigan. “I would call this season a success. I’m proud of all these guys up here on stage with me. But the whole team and those guys bought in to believing what we’re trying to build and to get that Gator standard back.

If the numbers are any indication, it might not be long until Florida overtakes all of its rivals again.

“In Year 1, to come here and to know where we were this time a year ago to where we are today, it’s special to me,” Mullen said. “I don’t know a lot of teams that would be lining up to play us right now.”

Below you can view some key statistics from Florida’s last 10 years compared to its four primary rivals.

Florida Gators, 2009-18
Overall: 83-45 (0.648)
Conference: 50-30 (0.625)
Division Titles: 4
League Titles: 0
Bowls: 6-2
BCS/NY6 Bowls: 2-1
National Titles: 0

Florida State Seminoles, 2009-18
Overall: 97-36 (0.729)
Conference: 55-25 (0.688)
Division Titles: 4
League Titles: 3
Bowls: 7-2
BCS/NY6 Bowls: 3-2
National Titles: 1

Georgia Bulldogs, 2009-18
Overall: 96-38 (0.716)
Conference: 55-25 (0.688)
Division Titles: 4
League Titles: 1
Bowls: 6-4
BCS/NY6: 1-1
National Titles: 0

Miami Hurricanes, 2009-18
Overall: 78-50 (0.609)
Conference: 47-33 (0.588)
Division Titles: 1
League Titles: 0
Bowls: 1-7
BCS/NY6 Bowls: 0-1
National Titles: 0

Tennessee Volunteers, 2009-18
Overall: 62-63 (0.496)
Conference: 25-55 (0.313)
Division Titles: 0
League Titles: 0
Bowls: 3-2
BCS/NY6 Bowls: 0-0
National Titles: 0

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