Tuesday, December 05, 2006

2006 Among the Best

2006 for the Florida Gator football team is far from over, with the BCS title game looming against formidable Ohio State. And while, regardless of the outcome, 2006 will have been “The Year of the Gator”, with a national title in basketball and the opportunity to play for one in football, I couldn’t help but think where this season might rate among Florida football’s finest.

First, here is my personal list of the greatest years of Florida football so far, in order.

1. 1996 – an obvious choice. 12-1 record, SEC, AP and Coaches’ Poll Champions. Only loss to rival FSU avenged in spectacular fashion.

2. 1995 – the only other 12 win season and SEC champs, though it ended badly to Nebraska. The only UF undefeated regular season ever.

3. 1993 – 11-2 record, and SEC Champs, with a throttling of West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl.

4. 1991 – 10-2 record and SEC Champs, but marred by losses to Syracuse and Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl.

5. 1994 – 10-2-1 record. Gators were the SEC champs, but tied, then lost to FSU in Sugar Bowl.

6. 2000 – 10-3, and Spurrier’s final SEC Championship. Losses to unranked Mississippi State, rival FSU, and bowl loss to Miami leave a bit of a bitter taste.

7. 1984 – 9-1-1. The “first” SEC title, although it was taken away. Lost to Miami first game, tied LSU in second, then ran the table, including wins over Georgia and FSU.

8. 1985 – 9-1-1. UF finishes first in SEC, but is ineligible for title. Year blemished by tie to Rutgers, and loss to Georgia, right after UF receives its first ever number 1 AP ranking.

9. 1990 – 9-2. Yet another SEC title won, but Florida deemed ineligible again. Bad losses to Tennessee and FSU mark an otherwise great year.

I’m saving number 10 to fill out the list by adding 2006.

But where?

I would suggest the following, based on outcome (overall ranking listed first) –

3. Florida loses to OSU disastrously (a la Nebraska). Ends year 12-2, ranked worse than 3rd. I would place the year here because the 1995 season was undefeated.

2. Florida loses close game to OSU. Ends year 12-2, ranked better than 3rd. If we have a close loss, and avoid the embarrassment of the Nebraska debacle, I would believe this to be the Gator’s 2nd finest year.

1 (TIE) – It will be hard to beat what happened in 1996. But if Florida wins against an Ohio State team that has been ranked number 1 all season, and ends 13-1, I think the year is at least as good as the 12-1 campaign of 1996. Although beating the ‘Noles for the title was priceless, a 13 win season would be unprecedented in UF history.

So there. From modest preseason expectations (at least on this Gator’s part), we find ourselves among one of the 3 best seasons ever in Gator history, and perhaps the very best.

No matter what happens January 8th, 2006 has truly been a Gator year to savor.


greg said...

you couple a win vs Ohio State with the basketball title back in March, and it truly would be a great year all around. and there's clearly the potential of a repeat in basketball as well. I would assume most are pretty happy in gator land these days.

And by the way, I think Donovan is going to emerge (if he hasn't already) as one of the great coaches of the next 10+ years. He's not won his last title. Do you think he would ever return to Kentucky if they show Tubby the door? (I've wondered that before, because I figure he'll be the first guy KY calls when they do.) Or is he committed to stay in Florida?

winstongator said...

After the UGA win, I stacked them up too. What I thought was lacking was a "statement" win. The statement win will come in a month, but the wins against UT, LSU, and Arkansas were all very big, and the ones against UGA, FSU, and USC were tough also.

The 95-97 teams were ridiculously talented, but this year is right up there.