Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It’s Great to be a Florida Gator

As we head toward the end of football season, and the beginning of basketball season, has there ever been a greater time to be Florida Gator?

In college sports, especially since the “nationalization” of genre in the ESPN era, being “relevant” is among the greatest thrills. Personally I know I greatly enjoy switching on College Game Day and hearing my Gators being discussed.

Among the “Big 2” college sports (football and basketball), is any University currently more relevant than the Florida Gators? Take a look at the current polls (November 7, 2006) –

Football – BCS Poll

1. Ohio State
2. Michigan
3. Louisville
4. Florida
5. Texas

Basketball – AP Poll

1. Florida
2. North Carolina
3. Kansas
4. Pittsburgh
5. LSU

The only team remotely as relevant nationally is Ohio State, who merits a pre-season 4th in the USA Today basketball poll. And think about each of those top fives for a moment – Florida listed alongside historic greats like Ohio State, Michigan and Texas in football, and historic greats like North Carolina and Kansas in basketball. It is truly amazing.

Florida is the defending National Champion in basketball. We are the 2006 SEC East Division Champions in football, with a solid chance for an SEC Championship, and an outside chance to play in the BCS Championship. We have two of the most promising young coaches in college sports, both in their early 40’s. Throw in world class facilities, sold out stadiums, and some of the most passionate fans in college sports, there is very little not to like right now.

Mostly, when you switch on the sports media, and the topic is football or basketball, Florida is in the mix. Will a defending national champion that returns all five starters be able to repeat? Will a 1 loss Florida team have a prospect at playing in the BCS title game? Two times this year, at Gainesville then at Auburn, College Game Day has seen the Gators relevant enough to cover the game in person. A glance at ESPN’s and SI’s men’s basketball front pages reveals a mention of Florida here, there, and everywhere.

Though it is hard to see from “the inside”, Gator college athletics must be the envy of college sports fans everywhere. It is great to be a Florida Gator!

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