Between coaching hot seat rumors, quarterback changes and a SEC East division race, the Florida Gators had a hectic and stressful 2014 season.

But when the decision to dismiss Will Muschamp finally came down back in November, the light could be seen at the end of the tunnel.

Florida’s 6-5 record in 2014 earned the Gators a trip to Birmingham, Ala., to play at the dreary Legion Field — probably an appropriate venue after the kind of season Florida had.

However, no matter what bowl the Gators ended up playing in, the game was never going to be at the forefront of many Florida fans’ minds. Does anyone really care about the Gators playing the Birmingham Bowl?

It’s a fair question considering what’s ahead for the Gators.

Florida has a number of pressing, more important issues to deal with. Now that Jim McElwain is officially the Gators’ next head coach, the topics of how he’ll fill out his coaching staff and how he’ll scramble to build what is now an underwhelming — to say the least — 2015 recruiting class all seem much more vital to the team’s long-term success than a Birmingham Bowl.

That isn’t to say no good can come out of this Birmingham Bowl game vs. East Carolina. The Pirates are a formidable opponent with one of the nation’s top scoring offenses led by quarterback Shane Carden. Their Air-Raid style of offense will test a rather young Florida secondary with a barrage of passing plays.

Young, inexperienced players like quarterback Treon Harris benefit from another month of practices and another game. At this point, the more work Florida’s young playmakers can get, the better it is for the Gators moving forward. Plus, it should give the Gators a strong idea of what they can expect next season when the Pirates travel to the Swamp to face Florida on Sept. 12.

But the Gators’ efforts in 2014 earned them a spot at one of the more miserable stadiums in all of the bowl games in early January against a four-loss team from the American Athletic Conference.

I guess it’s a step up from last year’s 4-8 season, but Florida fans would rather be focused on the future and not the present, hoping that McElwain will take them to greener pastures and better bowl games.