December 12, 2020.
No. 6 Florida (8-1) had gotten a critical third down stop with less than 2:00 left in a tied game against LSU. A win in this, the regular season finale, would put the Gators in a de facto College Football Playoff play-in game in the following week's SEC Championship against Alabama.
Then Marco Wilson tossed an LSU player's shoe.
Obviously every college football fan has been well aware since that moment that the stunt cost the Gators that game and a chance at a national championship. But that personal foul not only resulted in a 37-34 win for the Tigers that night; it might have just set off one of the most fascinating chains of events in modern college football.
Including the LSU loss, Florida is 5-9 (2-9 vs. Power Five opponents) since Wilson's infamous incident. Dan Mullen went from having a team on the verge of a Playoff berth to out of a job in less than a year. Now, one of the most coveted jobs in college football is vacant.
Does Wilson's shoe shot put end up in an Urban Meyer reunion in Gainesville? Is UF able to lure Lane Kiffin from Oxford to Gainesville? Will this finally be Hugh Freeze's shot at redemption?
Whoever ends up as Florida's next head coach, I feel confident in saying it will be one of the best names on the market, so maybe that actually ends up working out for the Gators. But there's a world in which Wilson calmly retreats to the Florida sideline and celebrates with his team, UF goes down the field for a game-winning field goal and just maybe upsets Bama the following week — the Gators only lost that game by six points — to find itself in the College Football Playoff in 2020. And if that happens, is Mullen on such a short leash this season? I guess we'll never know.
One lucky coach may need to send Wilson a thank you note in a few weeks, though.