C l i c k   for   H  O  M  E  P  A  G  E

2 0 1 3    R a n t s

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  Pre-Season Rant Toledo Miami (FL) Tennessee Kentucky Arkansas
  LSU Missouri Georgia Vanderbilt South Carolina
  Georgia Southern Eagles Florida State SEC Championship National Championship

Pre-Season Rant

The Gators will be one of the most intriguing teams in the SEC, despite losing several key players. Florida still has a stable of weapons on both sides of the ball.

Offensive coordinator Brent Pease has crafted a scheme that optimizes the talent he has to work with. It may not be the Steve Spurrier fun and gun or the Urban Meyer spread that terrorized the SEC, but eleven wins is eleven wins, including a three victories over top-1o teams.

The Gators recruited one of the best high school running backs in the nation in Kelvin Taylor. Taylor’s high school stats were ridiculous, rushing for 2,423 yards and 41 touchdowns his senior year alone. A pure speed rusher, Taylor can blow past defenders and most games will be the fastest player on the field. However, Taylor still hasn’t fully grasped Pease’s offense and will start the season backing up starter Matt Jones.

Jones is a power back, and will be one of the biggest components on a Gator offense that looks to run first, second, and at every other point possible. Jones has shown he can run into the trenches for tough yards. Still, the prospect of a "Thunder and Lightning" running attack is tantalizing...

Between the two backs, the only way to stop Florida’s run game is to close the holes early and make Driskel throw the ball. Without a doubt, making quarterbacks Jeff Driskel throw will be the goal of any Gator opponent. A far cry from the great Gator QBs in the past, Driskel is a tough kid, but lacks pocket presence or precision to make defensive backfields worry about a vertical threat from the Gators. Maybe this will change in 2013, and for UF to make it to Atlanta, it must. As it stands, the Gators are one dimensional. Against bad teams, Driskel won’t have to do anything more than manage the game, but against a tough SEC defense Jeff Driskel will be called upon to do things he hasn’t shown he can do to this point.

Fortunately for Driskel, he has several receiving threats that at the very least can run the wildcat as well as serve for decoys to assist the running game.

If any receiver takes the reigns of this Gator’s offense, it will be freshman DeMarcus Robinson. The only threat at wide-out for Florida, Robinson will need a good showing this year to make much needed plays in the passing game. Fortunately, Robinson, has demonstrated an ability to make plays on poorly thrown balls. Along with tight end Kent Taylor, Robinson will be the go to on third downs and in the red zone.

On the opposite side of DeMarcus Robinson is Quinton Dunbar. After Andre Debose suffered a season-ending ACL tear, Dunbar became the go-to guy on that side. Trey Burton's brother Clay Burton will likely fill in at tight end, and sophomore Latroy Pittman will be looked to to fulfill the promise he showed during the spring of his freshman year.

Even with some recognizable names like Dominique Easley, Louichez Purifoy and the return of Ron Powell, as well as a host of potential future stars like Vernon Hargreaves and Deonte Fowler, the unsettling news is that UF will struggle early on the defense. By the time the Gators face Georgia, the D should have its legs under them. But early games against Miami, LSU, and even Tennessee and Arkansas will make life difficult as the Gator defense matures. Once an opponent establishes the run, fun through the air will soon follow. If Florida’s defense doesn’t get better at stopping the run, they will have serious struggles against any team with a decent running game and an adequate play action passing attack.

So it falls back onto the Gator offense to manage the clock and wear out defenses with their lethal one-two rushing combo. But if the Gators fall behind in a game early, playing catch up through the air just isn’t a reality. And neither will be getting back to Atlanta. If UF is once again a top-five team (and yes, despite the lack of aesthetics and the awful first-half showing against Louisville, they were just that), then barring a potential upset, this schedule should boil down to two games: the trip to LSU and the Cocktail Party rivalry game versus Georgia. Win one of those two, and UF is probably in the SEC title game, one step away from the national title game. But if the lack of pass offense is more problematic, if the young defense allows for a few more early deficits, and if Coach Will Muschamp only puts a good product on the field instead of a great one, then suddenly it's going to be a battle just to reach eight wins.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

Toledo Rant

OK Gator Nation…

Here’s what I took away from the Gator’s season-opening 24-6 win over Toledo.

Coach Muschamp didn’t show any cards to future opponents. It was basic power football. Big physical Florida battering the Toledo defense with Mack Brown. Why Matt Jones didn’t play, why Kelvin taylor only played in the final two minutes… well those are cards Miami won’t see until Saturday.

Jeff Driskel seems more comfortable and confident running the offense. At one point the Gators junior quarterback was 9-of-11. Which segues into…

The receivers are noticeably improved. I got this one from Rob’s wife, Marie. (Way to go Marie). Yes, Joker Phillips as receivers coach was a good hire. The routes look better, more precise, Which is good as we’ll probably have to throw the football a little more against the tougher teams. One-dimensional teams eventually get shut down. Offensive balance is crucial.

The Gator defense will be awesome. The top player (louchiez Purifoy) was sat out due to a team violation, as were four other players. That gave meaningful snaps to other players which fosters depth.

The Gators are still physical. I watched bits of other games this weekend. Georgia-Clemson, Auburn-Wash. State. Alabama, Texas A&M South Carolina. Florida’s physicality appears near the top. Only Bama and Clemson are comparable physically… This week, it’s Gators versus Miami. Two teams with a lot of history, two teams that loathe the other. UF won five years ago in Gainesville. Some people say the game in Fort Lauderdale will be a Gator home game. A vocal pro-UF crowd on the road won’t hurt. I look for UF’s physical defense, and physical run offense to eventually wear down the Canes.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

Miami (FL) Rant

After I got over the shock of Florida's 21-16 loss to Miami, I watched the replay on Sunday. I felt pretty good about Gator QB Jeff Driskel's passing. He is very much improved in that regard., both in the passing itself, but in his "pocket discipline." I think UF had five passing plays of +20 yards and they weren't just the 5-yard catch and 15-yard run variety, but passes that actually covered the distance. Could have been better had Coach Muschamp played the 5-star freshman receiver Demarcus Robinson... While much of the crredit goes to Driskel, don't overlook the improvement that Coach Joker Phillips has instilled in the receivers. I believe the passing game is only going to get better.

That said, I was really disappointed in the running game. Mack Brown and Matt Jones weren't getting it done, although Jones had a couple of nice 8-to-12 yard runs to offset the many, many one-, two- and three-yard gains.

Defense was stellar once they got on track. Dominique Easley was unblockable, Ron Powell was a terror on blitzes, and the secondary (except for a couple of plays), contained a pretty good Miami passing attack. With his second interception in two career games, Vernon Hargreaves continues to be a bright spot. After the first quarter, they didn't let Miami do much offensively. I think that heading into the fourth quarter, the Canes generated -2 total yard for the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Too bad the offense gave up that sack-fumble midway through 4th quarter that led to Miami's clinching short TD drive.

Overall, I thought UF's physicality was superior. I watched Alabama-Va.Tech, Georgia-Clemson, South Carolina, FSU and some intersectional games and of all the teams I watched, only Clemson seemed to have physicality to match UF's. (Sorry, Bama) I think Clemson is a real threat. They should push FSU all over the field and should also beat Miami handily.

Turnovers happen. I don't like 'em, but that's part of the game. Reminded me of last year's Georgia game. As unpalatable as that is, I'm sure Coach is really working on the turnover problem and on redzone offense.

All-in-all, I see no reason to give up on the Gators. Any opponent who sees this game as an automatic "W" is setting themselves up for a major setback. Tennessee has scored a lot of points and will come into the Swamp Sept 21 full of confidence. Then at some point the Vols will realize why they have lost eight in a row to the Mighty Gators. Make it nine. Tennessee is not capable of beating UF... only UF can beat UF. Ask Miami.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

Tennessee Rant

Gator Nation is still reeling from the hangover from Saturday's 31-17 win over Tennessee, the Gators' ninth consecutive win over the Vols. For anybody living under a rock, the win came with a price. Five minutes into the game, as Gator quarterback jeff Driskel was throwing a pass that was picked off and returned 62 yards for a touchdown to give UT a 7-0 lead, he was tackled and sustained a broken fibula. Driskel is out for the season.

Enter QB Tyler Murphy who would take his first snap in a game situation. All the junior did was run and pass (8-14 for 134) for 212 yards and direct UF to 31 points and a comfortable win over the SEC East rivals.

Before the injury to Driskel, UF's season was game-to-game. Gator Nation faithful were relying on Coach WIll Muschamp's game-plan and preparation ability to do just enough to bring home a win. Now it is quarter-by-quarter. Or maybe not. The Gators still have that fearsome defense that will hinder most opponents. Tennessee only had one real drive during the game and that came when the score was out of reach. Save for injuries, defense can be the season's saving grace. Special teams need to tighten up its act. Kyle Christie dropped a punt snap and Austin Hardin missed another makable field goal.

My pal Joel Hartley is a videographer with a long history of working UF sporting events. Joel has provided me with some intriguing food for thought over the years... Joel's analysis is succinct and spot on. All the people who thought Driskel was the problem will get an answer now. I wasn’t a huge fan of him, but at least he had some experience. The most popular guy on any football team is the back-up quarterback. Well, he’s not the back-up anymore. He looked pretty good Saturday, but how will he look when teams plan for him? A buddy kept arguing that the Vols, as an SEC defense, should’ve been ready for him. I said “how can you answer a question that isn’t covered in the book, much less you didn’t know would even be on the test?” The only game tape on him is a few hand-offs over the last three years. Arkansas will be his first real test. Kentucky’s offense is so bad, and UF’s defense so good, the Wildcats could be the first team in history to score in the negative. But the Hogs will have two games’ worth of tape to watch on Murphy…what he can and can’t do, how UF uses him, what they like to run with him in certain situations, what he does when you show him certain looks.

I told a couple of people during the game we might be witnessing the birth of a folk hero. I made a comparison to the 1984 Miami game, when the last known QB got hurt three days prior, and some hick from Mayo was all UF had left. Kerwin Bell turned out OK… hopefully Murph can do the same thing.

Couldn't have said it better myself, Joel thanks.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

Kentucky Rant

For the 27th consecutive year, Florida dispatched Kentucky, defeating the Cats 24-7 in Lexington Saturday. With the win, UF improves to 3-1 and 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference.

Quarterback Tyler Murphy turned in a workman-like performance, passing for 156 yards, completing 15-of-18, including 13 in a row to start the game. Murphy also ran for a touchdown. For the game, UF out-rushed Kentucky 246-48, out-passed them 156-125 and held the ball for 38 minutes.

The defense was once again stellar. The Cats’ only score came on a fake field goal, not a standard offensive set.

Ho-hum. What did we learn about the Gators? Not much. Unfortunately, you can’t learn much from Kentucky games because the Cats only give the Gators a real game about once every decade. The real test for UF comes this week versus Arkansas.

The Hogs visit the Swamp, with a 3-2 record, opening with wins against Lousiana. Samford and Southern Miss, then losing at Rutgers and Texas A&M. Arkansas has shown offensive capability, averaging just under 30 points per game, but are also surrendering 22 points per game. The outcome will be decided by how well the Gator offense plays versus the Razorbacks defense and whether the UF defense can shut down the Arkansas offense. Heat should not be a factor as the game kicks off at 7:00 p.m.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

Arkansas Rant

The Florida Gators improved their record to 4-1 with a workmanlike 30-10 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks at the Swamp Saturday night.

Offensively, Arkansas looked sharp for a bit, shredding UF’s heralded run defense in the first quarter and taking a 7-0 lead on Jonathan Williams' nifty, cutback run. Williams started left, slammed into defenders, bounced out of the would-be tackle and then headed the other direction. He picked up a block and pretty much walked into the end zone for a 4-yard score. The Hogs looked like they were going to make a game of it, The Gators had been holding opponents to just under 50 yards rushing per game.

The Razorbacks were determined to stop Florida’s run game, and were successful, holding UF to 111 yards, 100 below UF’s season average. Tailbacks Matt Jones and Mack Brown combined for 89 yards on 28 carries. Quarterback Tyler Murphy finished with 15 yards. The Gators averaged 2.8 yards a carry.

The idea was to force UF quarterback Tyler Murphy to pass the football. Murphy completed 16 of 22 for 240 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Solomon Patton provided most of the offensive action on the night, catching six passes for 124 yards and two TDs.

Loucheiz Purifoy was involved in a number of key plays. He had a sack and strip of Arkansas's QB Brandon Allen, leading to a Florida recovery. He had a 42 yard TD off of a pick six to get the Gators' first touchdown. He also muffed a punt late in the half that was the subject of much controversy.

Purifoy signaled for a fair catch at the UF 10 yard line and bobbled the ball. An Arkansas player then came in to knock the ball away in the air. Arkansas ended up with the ball in a scrum, apparently setting up the Razorbacks close to Florida's end zone. The rule is that a player must be given an opportunity to finish the catch, so the refs threw a kick-catch interference flag, which gave Florida the ball at the 25 with 1:42 to play. Six plays later, Patton burned Arkansas for a touchdown catch and run to put the Gators up 17-7.

Florida scored on the opening drive of the second half, with Murphy to Patton again doing the damage, to put UF up 24-7. The teams grinded it out from there, but UF tacked on another TD while the Hogs added a field goal to make the final 30-10.

The Gators travel to Baton Rouge for a 3:30 game versus the LSU Tigers. LSU routed Florida two years ago, but UF turned the tables on them in Gainesville last year, shocking the Tigers 14-6.

If the Gators can avoid turnovers, ramp up their special teams play and continue the offensive balance that they have shown under Murphy at QB, this game is winnable.

Should be another good one.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

LSU Rant

The Florida Gators had an absolutely dismal offensive performance, losing 17-6 to LSU Saturday in Baton Rouge.

The game was a mirror-image of last year’s 14-6 UF win over the Tigers in Gainesville. In that game, UF out-muscled LSU, particularly in the 4th quarter to reestablish their place among the SEC elite.

Not so this year. The10th-ranked Tigers showed muscle of their own, dominating both lines of scrimmage. LSU's defensive line pressured Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy consistently and the Tigers' offensive line did just enough to keep the LSU quarterback comfortable and allow Tiger running backs to pile up yardage.

Florida owned time of possession, holding the ball 34 minutes and racked up 17 first downs, but LSU made the most of its time. UF made only two trips inside the red zone, scoring only three points.

LSU entered the game averaging 45 points-per-game and was held fairly well by the Gator defense. While the Gator defense played well at times, mistakes cost them dearly. Two third-down stops were nullified by pass interference penalties, and the defense allowed a 22-yard pass completion on a third-and-17. To be fair, LSU got a huge break on its first touchdown from the six-inch line when the refs failed to note that the LSU right guard moved prior to the snap. The penalty would have moved the ball back to the five, possibly altering the outcome of that drive... But that's football, guys.

Florida lost starting running back Matt Jones to a season-ending knee injury early in the game. Jones became the seventh Gator to suffer a season-ending injury this year. Jones tore the meniscus in his left knee and watched from the sidelines as Mack Brown and freshman Kelvin Taylor took over at tailback. Taylor, who had only six carries coming into the game, finished with a career-high 52 yards on 10 carries. Meanwhile, LSU rushed for 175 yards on the day, including 19 carries for 121 yards from Jeremy Hill. After accounting for yardage lost on sacks, UF rushed for 111 net yards

Gator QB Tyler Murphy never looked comfortable passing the football, completing 15 of-27 passes for 115 yards. UF was successful on three fourth down plays, including a beautiful 14 yard pass from punt formation by punter Kyle Christie.

The Gators head out to Columbia, MO, for a big conference showdown at undefeated Missouri (6-0, 2-0). Few expected the Tigers to be leading the division at this point, but they are after Saturday's big 41-26 win over Georgia. However, in that game, Missouri lost starting quarterback James Franklin due to a shoulder injury.

The loss drops Florida into a three-way tie for second behind Missouri. Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are now all 3-1 and tied for second in the SEC East. Still, UF controls its destiny as it will play the Missouri next week and each of the co-leaders in the next month.

Still a lot of football to be played. Things are just now getting interesting.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

Missouri Rant

Not a lot to say about the Gators humiliating 36-17 loss at Missouri last week. UF was outplayed (and out-coached) in every facet of the game.

It was a meltdown of epic proportions, the likes of which has not been seen in quite some time… possibly harkening back to the 0-10-1 Larry Ochab-led 1979 Gators.

UF’s troubles started on the lines of scrimmage. The offensive line could not seem to block, forcing Gator quarterback Tyler Murphy to hurry passes or scramble for his life. Murphy was sacked six times and the offense produced only 151 total yards, the fewest by a UF team since 1999.

The defensive line fared little better, failing to stop Missouri from running and passing at will, for over 500 yards.

For the day, the Gators had two bright spots. The first was Solomon Patton’s 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half. The second was a beautiful 75-yard drive that featured freshman running back Kelvin Taylor. Taylor finished the day with 12 carries for 74 yards, 53 of which came on the third-quarter scoring drive that was capped by his 20-yard touchdown run.

After that series, inexplicably, Taylor only rushed the ball once the rest of the game.

If you like excuses, UF has lost seven players to season-ending injuries thus far this year. For the Mizzou game, defensive linemen Ron Powell and Damien Jacobs and linebacker Darren Kitchens were out due to injury. Murphy had been hindered by a shoulder injured in the LSU game that limited his throwing ability in practice. And Cody Riggs got ejected on the first play of the game for a helmet-to-helmet hit.

UF has the week off to prepare for Georgia in Jacksonville Nov. 2. Like the Gators, the Dawgs have been decimated by injuries. After losing at home to Missouri two weeks ago, Georgia blew a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost to Vanderbilt.

Let me say that again, Georgia lost to Vanderbilt. Oh damn that felt good.

Florida and Georgia are two teams headed to the same place by different paths.

Despite back-to-back pastings by LSU and Missouri, Florida still leads the SEC in total defense. One the other hand, Georgia’s offense is still decent despite injuries to a multitude of players, but its defense is horrible and leads the SEC in points surrendered.

Unbeaten Missouri (7-0) has a two-game lead in the SEC Eastern Division race, and hosts South Carolina this weekend. The Gamecocks were upset by Tennessee 23-21 in Knoxville last week. All told, it was a horrible week for the SEC's marquee programs as ranked teams Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, LSU and Texas A&M all lost.

Let’s take a week and heal up, renew our focus and get ready to put a loss on the Bulldogs.

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

Georgia Rant

Can't get over the loss right now

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

Vanderbilt Rant

Vanderbilt ended 22 years of frustration and spoiled Florida’s homecoming, feasting on Gator miscues enroute to a 34-17 victory.

The Gators had twice as many total yard and more than double the first downs, but interceptions by UF QB Tyler Murphy set up the Commodores first-and-goal twice and that spelled doom.

The Gators are 4-5 and likely headed for their first losing season since 1979, the infamous 0-10-1 year. Also at stake is the nation’s 2nd longest bowl streak. UF would need to win two of its final three games to become bowl-eligible.

Debate also rages over Coach Will Muschamp’s job security. The third-year coach has just suffered through his second 4-game losing skein in three years. Some would argue that losing to Vandy, a losing season and failure to elevate the program back among the SEC’s elite meant that Muschamp must go. Adding fuel to the fire, UF’s offense is predictable and unable to score points, and players display a lack of discipline on the field.

On the other hand, some will argue that Muschamp inherited a program that the exiting coach deemed “broken” and by his second year, earned a BCS bowl bid by defeating four BCS ranked teams and was theoretically one fumble away from potentially playing for the division, conference and national championships. The team has lost 10 players to season-ending injuries including the starting QB and top defensive player.

Florida must travel to South Carolina Saturday to face Coach Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks, who are still mathematically alive for the SEC Eastern Division title. UF will not be favored.

Despite all of this, life goes on

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

South Carolina Rant

I am borrowing this observation from my pal Joel Hartley as this week's short 'n sweet rant... I haven’t been as happy or pleased with a loss in a LONG time. Going on the road, to face the #10 team in the country, which has one of the most dominant pass rushers in the nation, starting a QB who has never played, and staying in the game until the closing minutes when said QB makes a common mistake for young passers… I never would’ve thought it possible. But they did what they did so well last year, playing to their strengths and avoiding critical mistakes (for the most part). We can’t pass protect and we have a guy who has never played, so we’re going to run, run and run some more. We’re going to completely eliminate the QB from the equation and snap the ball right to Taylor and Brown. And when we do throw, they’ll be safe, short passes to minimize risk and build confidence.

Yeah, it’s another loss, but one I doubt many saw coming in terms of it being respectable. And more importantly, they were beaten by South Carolina, not by themselves. Had they played with this kind of focus and grit all year, they beat Miami for sure, they probably beat Georgia, and they may even have a shot against LSU. And had they won those games, they wouldn’t have been reeling and maybe Vandy doesn’t beat them… or, should I say, they don’t beat themselves against Vandy.

If they play like this against FSU, at home, on Senior Day, and a rivalry game, they have a chance, albeit a slim one, to shock the world. A little razzle here, a dash of dazzle there and, most importantly a lack of self-inflicted damage, and just maybe they keep it close enough in the 4th quarter that a break going their way (Lord knows they’re overdue) makes the difference. One can hope...

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

Georgia Southern Rant

Normally I write the weekly rank for www.Gators1996.com in the days after the latest football game. But this week, the outcome is not really as important as the issues floating beneath the surface, issues that aren’t really affected by the outcome of Florida versus Georgia Southern. So without further adieu…

Barring a miracle, Gators appear to be headed for their first losing season in 34 years… since the now infamous 1979 0-10-1 season. The team’s record is 4-6 with two games left: home games versus Georgia Southern and undefeated #2 ranked Florida State. The Gators need to win both games to become bowl eligible.

I’ve been listening for more than a month now to the whiners crying “fire Will Muschamp” “fire Jeremy Foley” as if doing either of those things will suddenly right the sinking ship that is the 2013 football season.

That attitude will be reflected in the number of empty seats you’ll see at the Swamp Saturday… Maybe not “FSU 7-4 record empty category” and certainly not Miami U during “any game they play versus anybody not UF or FSU empty category,“ but empty enough to see on TV when the punter boots the ball. (Like how I took a shot at our rivals and still gave homage to our great Gator fans who still show up “in all kinds of weather!!!”) And that attitude simply illustrates how spoiled we Gator fans have become… yeah spoiled… spoiled rotten. We have it good, hell, we have it great. Some of you don’t know how stinking good we have it…

Where’s the proof you ask?

Most people accept 1990 as the watershed year for the University of Florida football program. That year of course was when Steve Spurrier became coach of his alma mater and with a 50-14 win over Oklahoma State, THE new era in Gator football was born. Only now 23 years later, we have hit a small bump n the road.

Quiz time: Which college football team has racked up the most victories since 1990? The answer is your Florida Gators. Yep, with 228 wins, UF is the easily the winningest team in the nation over that span. UF is 228-65-1 over the 294 games, a .777% win percentage. Nebraska has also played 294 games, but ranks 5th, 221-72-1, .753.

Only Boise State (169W-46L .786%) which has played far fewer games as a Division I team, has a better winning percentage.

Let’s see how some of today’s powerhouse programs compare to UF over this time span…

Ohio State: (.769) 211-62-3 – OSU had a losing season in 2011.
Florida State: (.759) 213-67-1
Miami: (.725) 204-77
Georgia: (.694) 198-87-1
Tennessee: (.694) 198-87-2
Auburn: (.663) 185-93-3
LSU: (.662) 187-95-1
Alabama: (.654) 176-93

Need more reason to feel good about the Gators? The Florida football program has not had a sub-.500 season in 34 years... But during that 34 years, every other SEC team has had at least FOUR losing seasons... Georgia: 4, Alabama: 5, Tennessee & Auburn: 7 each, Arkansas: 8, LSU: 9 including six in a row (89-94)... Those are the "power teams" Do I really need to get into counting these for Vandy, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Miss State?

I pointed out to a fan of another school (Non-SEC) that one never hears a crowd chanting “A-C-C” or “Big-Ten” but you almost always hear that chant when an SEC team wins (another) national title. Want to hazard a guess as to who might be the “Best of the Best?”

Hint: it just doesn’t start and end with football like it does for Alabama or like it does for basketball for Kentucky… UF’s athletic excellence is felt – and feared – across the spectrum. With a league-record eight SEC titles UF’s athletics program swept the 2012-13 SEC Men’s, Women’s and Overall (combined) SEC All-Sports titles. It is the 13th time the Gator program has taken the three titles. That is13 times more than any other SEC school… UF is the only school to collect all three titles in a single season. The overall SEC All-Sports title is the 23rd for Florida in the past 26 years, while the Gator program also earned its 20th women's and 17th men’s titles.

That doesn’t leave a whole lot for the other 13 SEC schools to divvy up and display in their trophy cases.

This year, Florida claimed SEC titles in men’s basketball, women’s cross country, gymnastics, soccer, softball, men’s swimming & diving, women’s tennis and volleyball. That league record eight titles in a single season was originally set by Florida in 1991-92 and equaled in 2010-11. Georgia is the only other school to match that, having turned the trick in 2005-06.

The Florida Gators athletic program has been consistently recognized as one of the best in the nation. Every year since 1983, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) has recognized the Gators athletic program as one of the ten best overall Division I athletic programs in the country in its annual Directors' Cup standings. The Gators men's athletic program won the inaugural Capital One Cup in 2011, awarded annually based on the performances of all the teams in the program. UF is hopeful of finishing among the nation's top 10 most successful overall athletic programs for the 30th consecutive year when final national all-sports rankings are released. Florida is the only school to finish among the nation's top 10 overall most successful athletic programs each year since 1983.

Among the Gators' recent national championships, UF Men’s basketball team won the 2006 and 2007 Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournaments, the football team won 2007 BCS National Championship Game, all in the space of 366 days. Florida is the only school in NCAA history to hold the men's basketball and football championships during the same school year. Then in January, 09, the Gators won the 2009 BCS football National Championship Game with a 24–14 victory over Oklahoma.

The Gators won three consecutive NCAA men's indoor track and field championships in 2010, 2011 and 2012, the NCAA women's swimming and diving team national championship in 2010, the NCAA women's tennis championship in 2011 and 2012, the NCAA men's outdoor track and field championship in 2012, and the NCAA women's gymnastics championship in 2013, earning the university a total of 30 national team championships. Individual Gator athletes have won 249 individual NCAA championships in boxing, golf, gymnastics, swimming and diving, tennis, and track and field. The Gators now own 52 titles since the 2003-04 academic year, the most by any conference school during the 10-year span. One other Florida sport claimed a league crown in 2013 as the Gator lacrosse team claimed a share of their third consecutive American Lacrosse Conference regular-season title.

So now go ahead and either wallow in the misery of this year’s injury riddled football record, or look forward to next year when those injured players return to action, joined by yet another top-five recruit class and a reinvigorated coaching staff. And in the mean time, take time to go out to a Gator basketball game, baseball game, volleyball match or any of the other fine nationally ranked men’s and women’s sports offered at your University of Florida…

Now you get what I mean when I say

As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

Florida State


As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

SEC Championship


As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

National Championship


Ever more, As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

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