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Troupe Talk: The Big Three

By Ben Troupe
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College Football is better when the big three are all thriving.

My Florida Gators had an incredible season, going 11-2 with another New Year’s Six Bowl victory against Virginia. That’s what’s I’m talking about.

There are two problems though; Florida State and Miami combined for only 12 wins but 14 losses this season. For those of you keeping count, that means they both finished the season at 6-7. I know you are probably thinking “Ben, why do you care what happens in Tallahassee and Coral Gables?”.

The answer is because, unfortunately, the school on the panhandle and the school in South Florida matter because they make up the "Big 3". Florida, Florida State and Miami are the biggest brands in the state. If you grow up playing football there, these are the schools you hope you get recruited by.

They all have a rich tradition, incredible history and, most importantly, they are all a big part of the college football fabric. College football is better when the big three are all thriving. Not when one is balling and the other two end the season with losing records.

Miami got shut out in their bowl game against Louisiana Tech. Florida State lost to Arizona State. Are you serious?

Florida, while they are definitely trending in the right direction, is two years removed from going 4-7 and Florida State is a year removed from going 5-7. This cannot continue to go on. Going to these three universities means upholding the standard and understanding that competing and preparing, and not just going through the motions, is an all-day, everyday process when you play for them.

Willie Taggert, fair or unfair, lasted just a season and a half in Tallahassee because mediocrity cannot be tolerated. Mark Richt resigned because, in my opinion, what he was hired to do in Miami he wasn’t getting done. Dan Mullen has Florida back in the national conversation, but still has work to do to get back to Atlanta.

It would be different if there weren't talent, resources, great recruiting and infrastructure, but all of that is in place.

So what is the problem? I feel it is a mindset. What Clemson is doing now, Florida State did for 14 years in a row in finishing in the top five. Miami has "30 for 30" documentaries on how great the U used to be. The Gators once ran the SEC and they led the way. It’s time to get back to that, collectively.

It’s time to shed the mediocrity and being okay with being okay. It’s unacceptable. I mean come on man...Deion, Jameis, Jalen, Anquan and other greats went to Florida State. Ed Reed, Sean Taylor, Ray Lewis, Jonathan Vilma and too many incredible players went to the U. Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Rex Grossman, Brandon Spikes, Fred Taylor, Emmitt Smith and player after player balled for "Dem Boyz".

This is the legacy. The great players of the past passed the torch. It must be upheld and taken to an even higher level.

This is all I’m saying. Florida, Florida State and Miami need to stop thinking like everybody else, because they are not everybody else. They are the creme de la creme. They are who everyone comes to see. What happens at other schools or with other teams doesn’t matter. Everything they do does matter. It’s okay to have average seasons at other places, but not here. They need to make it up in their minds right now that the mediocre past is over and that the dominant future is here. It’s here to stay.

No more of the inconsistency we have sometimes seen. From now on, it's about getting back to what the big three used to be and never turning back. The programs owe it to the fans, the tradition and history of the game, and most of all, to themselves.

I’m going to say this again and be done with it: college football is better when the big three in Florida are all playing great collectively. Sorry, but that’s just how it is. Don’t get it twisted, it's "Orange and Blue Skies" for life. But that green and orange and garnet and gold need to pull their weight as well. It’s a “we” thing, not a “me” thing; "we" are in this thing together, so "we" need to get it together.

Look...get with it big three or get lost because the expectations are only getting greater and are not for the timid. The fall is rapidly approaching. I hope y’all are ready. We will be watching.

Ben Troupe - Troupe played tight end for the Florida Gators from 2000-2003, and earned first-team All-SEC recognition and first-team All-American honors from ESPN, Rivals and Sports Illustrated as a senior. After a standout college career, Troupe was selected 40th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft, the first pick of the Tennessee Titans that spring. Currently, Troupe is a representative for the NFL Ambassadors via the College Outreach Program and the USA Football Youth and High School Program while also serving as an assistant master trainer for Head's Up coaching initiative. Troupe can be heard on ESPN Coastal's "Three & Out" with B.J. Bennett and Kevin Thomas.