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Al Messerschmidt

1. Hello, welcome to the buffet. We know your opinions on buffets. They are complex. You do not like the idea of all that food, sitting in individuated, underfilled hot tubs, each breeding their own micro-universe of bacteria. No one likes the gummy film on the macaroni and cheese. Most outright fear whatever has happened to the clam chowder, which shit--what the hell is a dairy based soup doing on a buffet? Much less one involving clams? You people want to die, don't you? Like, want to run headfirst into its arms, nude and wanting, don't you? Quarantine that, and have priests wave mitres over it to be sure. (Keep the Bourbon Chicken. It was never food, and can't hurt us now even if eaten.)

2. You have to eat, though. You can talk about eating well, adopt the couture diet of your choice, but at one point, no matter how choosy you might be, your body will learn the lesson of the stranded and reluctant cannibal: you must eat, or you will die. Starved for football--or worse yet, starved for your team's football-- you will consume it. You may notice the danger signs: poorly regulated temperatures on the line, a curdle in the dressing you really, really need to put on a meager salad, the rubbery steak finger (What the shit, steak fingers) that waggles like a battered dildo in the tongs. You should put that thing down and probably eat something else. There are no other options.

3. If you have worked in a kitchen you know how this happens. It is not always by design, at least if you are not eating at a Golden Corral or Ryan's Family Steakhouse, where they know they could put marinated conical drinking cups in a sugary bourbon glaze, call it "terrestrial calamari," and watch it disappear down the gullet of their customers. Metaphorically speaking, this is the Washington Redskins, or any other pro team bent on spending as little as possible while pushing as many people through the line as at high a price point as possible. Dan Snyder, in charge of a buffet, would serve you human, and insist it was a tribute to the species' versatility.

4. The weirdass comparison is this: that I think Will Muschamp cares deeply, and is capable of making one kind of food, and that the truck has not shown up through circumstances beyond his control. He wanted to make a basic spaghetti for the kids, the kind that got everyone through elementary and middle school lunches. It would never be more than B grade food at best, but he could make it, and have occasional moments of prosaic genius, moments where you said yes, these slablike flavors and complete lack of flavoring ARE what I want right now. If you want anything more delicate, or challenging, well, mister, why don't you go get Jamie Oliver yourself and bring him down to the school cafeteria? You don't have a car, or money, or a phone, because you are nine years old? Well, kid. [SPLATS GIANT LUMP OF SPAGHETTI AND MEAT SAUCE ON YOUR TRAY] There's your lunch. It's what I've got today. You probably won't die if you eat it.

5. So Will Muschamp is still the angry lunchlady of Florida football right now, an undermanned face to the various logistical misfortunes that got us all here: a plague of injuries, the usual horrendous schedule, and an offense that can't block its way out of tree fort made of the flimsiest of government cheeses. It is not his fault in the immediate sense.

6. It is his fault in the ultimate sense, however. The recipe for what Florida wants to do in total leaves so little room for error that missing just one or two ingredients destroys the whole dish, since smashmouth manball assumes the ability to dominate at the line of scrimmage, and does not treat it as a luxury on just one side of the ball, much less both. It likes points, but it likes them in the context of control, not as pressure applied throughout the game on the opposing defense. It is SEC football from the 1980s--the kind Steve Spurrier all but ended for good, and that Nick Saban explicitly schemed against when assembling his LSU teams.

7. So when LSU floods the trenches against your team, you can rightfully point to injury, and to J.C. Copeland having an exhibition on mammoth, uninterrupted brutality at fullback for LSU. You can point to poor Jon Halapio, playing with one good arm thanks to a torn pec, and say that despite injuries the line is trying. You can point to Tyler Murphy, and the ball staying frozen to his hand because receivers got no separation from their defenders. You can say all of that, because it is all understandable, and excusable in the immediate sense.

8. You can also say that despite the good things-- the bump from Kelvin Taylor, who was brilliant in spot duty, and punter Kyle Christy showing a nice arm-- that Florida scored six points against LSU, less than any other team in the conference on Saturday. It is not unreasonable at this point to say that none of this, over three years of trying, has worked, or will every work. At this point Florida is Virginia Tech under Frank Beamer: an outstanding defense, good special teams, and indifferent by design to the notion of offense.

9. I hate this. I hate this with the burning fire of a hell populated by burnt defensive coordinators who, in their heart of hearts, really did believe they could win every game 10-3, if only we'd just stop them one more time. I hate watching it, and hate the futility of watching a team so hamstrung by injuries, and yet knowing that even if healthy scoring another field goal would be like watching a very fat man, caught on a very steep hill, running to catch his truck after leaving the parking brake off. It would happen slowly. It would end badly. If you weren't invested, you would laugh.

10. I can't even be mad at this point, because the school that hired the future twice ran headlong into the past by hiring Muschamp. That's not even a bad thing by result: this is a good football team, and I'm pretty sure Will Muschamp is a truly great coordinator, and possibly a really good head football coach if given enough time. He's recruiting well. People like him. These things matter more than style points, or whatever derogatory term you'd care to apply to a style of football capable of scoring enough points to demoralize an opponent.

11. I don't have to like it, since I'll be eating it anyway. I can't even be mad at him, since the school that ushered in the future of the conference twice hired a caveman to do caveman things. When he brings a club to the dinner table, I have to call it a utensil because it's the only one we've got. If we get to eight wins this year, it would be quasi-miraculous thanks to circumstances beyond our coach's control, but also because of some things very much in Will Muschamp's control. And anyone who follows Florida has to eat that particular lunchlady's special, because it's the best she's gonna do, and it's also unfortunately the best she's going to do. Either way, you're gonna eat.

12. But this isn't fun, and never will be, and that's something you just have to swallow to get to the next meal.