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December 24, 2010

Peek: Under the Christmas tree

On Christmas Eve across the world, children will be snuggled in their beds, dreaming of what they will find under the Christmas tree tomorrow morning when they wake up. Even though some of us outgrow waiting up for Santa, there is at least a little part of all of us that can't wait to see what Christmas morning has in store. Prominent members of the Gator Nation are no different. Now its time to take a look at what some of them may be hoping for...

New Gator Head Coach Will Muschamp hit his first grand-slam as the new ball coach when he took the podium and immediately pumped Gator Nation full of energy. He set the standard high for himself and his players. Now he is hoping Santa will gift-wrap his second home run, in the form of a top notch Offensive Coordinator. A marquee hire will go a long way in solidifying recruits and calming the masses of the Gator Nation. It's a big request, but if anyone can deliver, it's the fat man in the red suit.

Former Gator Quarterback Tim Tebow was thankful for Josh McDaniels and the Denver Broncos for trading up to draft him in the first round last April. Now Tebow is asking Santa Claus for a new head coach with just as much faith in him as McDaniels, with a creative offensive philosophy to match. Tebow's success or failure in Denver will depend in large part on the Broncos' next head coach. He's hoping Santa understands what a dual threat quarterback is...

Gator senior safety Ahmad Black was arguably the most consistent player aside from Chas Henry on the field for Florida this year. Black is hoping St. Nick will remind NFL scouts and coaches about his great on-the field performances, instead of his smaller stature and less than stellar measurables.

On the flip side of that equation, if he is indeed declaring early for the NFL Draft, all fellow safety Will Hill wants this holiday season is that those same NFL front office types focus more on his measurables and less on his on-the-field performance.

Louisville head coach Charlie Strong is still part of Gator Nation in my book. I know he is hoping to find a top recruiting class under his tree, to build on what he started this past season. Strong is widely acknowledged as one of the best recruiters in the business. Next season he will need to build on the stable foundation he has put in place for the Cards. Closing out the season with a bowl win was huge, but Strong will need to start competing for Big East championships to be considered a head coaching success., and the first step in that direction would be finishing atop the Rivals.com Team Recruiting rankings in the Big East.

Former Gator wide receiver David Nelson is going to be leaving a note of thanks under his tree for the jolly man this Christmas Eve. Someone with magical powers made sure Nelson got picked up by the exact right team and system to highlight his abilities. Couple the great opportunity with lots of grit and hard work, and Nelson is a bonafide NFL starter after being marginalized in the UF offense in 2009. If Nelson could ask for anything, it might be for a things to stay status-quo (not likely) in Buffalo.

The Ole Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, must be pretty pleased with his team's showing this year. Spurrier's Christmas wish is probably more for Steven Garcia than himself. He hopes the elves have packaged up some better decision making skills for his quarterback. Garcia epitomizes the old adage about little boys "when he's good, he's very good; but when he's bad, he's horrid."

While he has Santa's attention, it wouldn't hurt SOS to also ask for a bowl win. The Gamecocks are 1-3 in bowl games under Spurrier and those three bowl losses have helped to stall USC's recruiting momentum heading into the off season. Now that Spurrier has led SC to their first SEC East Championship, holding his tongue in check in the process, perhaps Santa will reward him with a bowl win.

Ex-Gator Quarterback Rex Grossman is pretty excited about his luck. He is now the starting quarterback for the rest of the season in Washington, barring an injury or on-the-field meltdown. He's hoping Santa sends Donovan McNabb permanently packing, and that he can produce enough to keep the 'Skins from bringing in a big name to replace him next season.

Quarterback John Brantley has a pretty extensive Christmas list this year. Good news for him is that he has kept his mouth closed and continued to work hard even when much of Gator Nation had abandoned him, so he is high on Santa's good list. He is asking for Coach Muschamp to keep his word and move towards a pro-style offense. An offensive coordinator with the same philosophy would help. Receivers that can catch would be an added bonus. Most of all, Brantley is hoping there is a gift-wrapped fresh start under his tree Christmas morning.

Center Mike Pouncey is hoping Santa has some pull with the NFL. He is really hoping Scouts will pay more attention to his entire body of work and his brother's awesome rookie NFL season, instead of his erratic and sometimes downright bad snapping this season. Pouncey is incredibly talented, but unfortunately this season did not exactly highlight his best attributes. The good news for him is that many teams, maybe even the Steelers should still be interested in bringing him in, but probably not as a center.

Urban Meyer has almost everything he could ever want already. He has two National Championships, Two SEC Championships, and multiple Coach of the Year Awards. He has plenty of money, and the respect of the college football world. What Meyer is hoping for isn't a tangible thing, but it is possibly his most important gift he has ever asked for. Meyer hopes to find a clean bill of health and quality time with his family under the tree. A sweet commentating deal with ESPN or some snazzy commercial contracts wouldn't hurt either. A win in the Outback Bowl would be icing on the cake.

Athletic Director Jeremy Foley is hoping he already delivered the biggest gift of all for the Florida Faithful....Will Muschamp. Foley is crossing his fingers that he was able to catch lightning in a bottle twice. If Santa helps out Muschamp with a great OC, Foley will also benefit.

The Gator Nation as a whole is really hoping the coming year will bring us a strong recruiting class, filled with stand-up guys that will put the team over themselves. A good showing in the classroom and in the community wouldn't hurt either. For Gator fans to be happy, Florida will have to put together a season better than the one we witnessed this past year. College football fans understand that teams are cyclical, so we will impatiently wait for the Gators to be back in the National Championship game. The good news is, if everything goes as planned, the Gators will be back sooner rather than later.

I hope everyone has a great a very Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous New Year. As always, it's Great to Be a Florida Gator!


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