Why I Hate the Florida Gators
Posted by Troy Hebert
and other rants by Troy Hebert
My God. It’s been more than a month. And it’s still – just so… so hard to talk about.
I’ve been sitting on this article for nearly as long. I’ve gotten the e-mails from Gator acquaintances (who I no longer consider friends) – I’ve seen the SI commemorative package commercials emblazon my TV screen. It’s just – This needs to be said.
Okay. Hold On. Be Strong. Be Stroooonnng.
First of all, let me just say this: GO TO HELL GATORS, GO TO HELL. Okay. And also kids, PLEASE remember that “s***eatinggator” is one word.
Moving onward and upward. This thing starts at the top. The hatred for the Gators runs back to when I was a young boy, and began to find my place in the 3-way state rivalry. I alluded to it back in my Charlie Ward glory piece – but Steve Spurrier was a good ol’ fashioned son of a B (pardon my harsh letters). He was brash, he was Cocky – and now, ironically – he’s a Cock. The guy was convinced that he knew the game inside and out, and though he was dubbed the evil genius – and yeah, sure, he gave us a laugh or two (“can’t spell CITRUS without U-T”) – the guy was a total jerk. He was the perfect coach for that town. He was convinced of his own superiority, still didn’t accomplish anything significant, never could get the job completely done – and whined when things didn’t go his way. Perfect ambassador of Hogtown.
He blamed other coaches (and still does today) he blamed the media, he blamed officials, his players, his Athletics Director, whatever he could get away with – he blamed. He was a whiner of which we might never see again in sports history. Watch someone throw a visor – and I double dog DARE you not to think about that pompous idiot immediately. This cannot be done. I’ve tried. I promise you.
To my best recollection – the best case scenario after a loss – Bobby would lament his woes, blame himself, and give a gem of a quote like – “well, they’ll say on my tombstone – he was a GREAT coach – but he had to play Miami” – and Spurrier would blame the other coaches for late hits, intentionally injuring his players, or crying about the officiating. It was never his fault. Steve Spurrier never lost a game. His players sure did, but Steve never lost.
How could you root for a guy like that?
For years it was nice having the picture on my wall, my scoreboard game card – 18 inches of good paper with the words FSU 24 – Florida 21. “The Ultimate Showdown” – and we beat ‘em. It was good to know that the ONE year that UF won a national title – We beat them. We defended our homefield and beat ‘em. See – that was the thing – Spurrier never won in Tallahassee. And our two national titles led us right through his little “Swamp” both times.
But now, it’s Urban Meyer. Sure, he cries in public. Sure, he threatens to play a season of football with no running backs. And yeah, ESPN ran a story on how he makes players plant trees for mistakes in practice. (I can only hope the trees they were growing were LEGAL – what with all the problems Marcus Thomas and others seemed to have last season). But that’s besides the point. The guy wins games. He wins games that Spurrier lost, that Zook would have lost. Nevermind the fact that he caught Georgia last year without the starting quarterback, and this year with a true freshman – and both times snuck by – HE WON. Just because his two biggest rivals (arguably) are having their worst campaigns in decades – Tennessee has been awful the last two seasons, and let us not discuss the woes of the Noles. Nevermind that South Carolina beat ‘em last year, and needed three blocked kicks to win by one this year. Or that they beat Vanderbilt 2 years in a row – once because a celebration penalty stopped the opportunity for a 2 point conversion – and they needed an onsides kick to win this year.
The fact remains, HE WON THOSE GAMES (except against USC).
Don’t worry about the fact that LSU has turned the ball over 10 freaking times in the past two years against them (and still won a game when they had a -5 turnover margin), or that Alabama had them beat this year until they started throwing the ball for absolutely no reason – and had 2 INT’s returned late (one for a td – one set up a td).
Still, Urban Meyer won those games – (except the 31-3 Alabama game – and the aforementioned LSU 21-17 game).
He won an SEC title in a year that LSU and Auburn both stumbled out of the way and let Arkansas, yes, freaking Arkansas into the title game. And nevermind the fact that Urban handed Arky the game after his decision to punt from 4th and 1 at midfield, showing no confidence in his team at all – Arkansas’ freshman punt returner fumbled the punt into the end zone and UF recovered and never looked back.
Nevermind that McFadden getting hurt in that very game, or Ted Ginn’s injury in the NC game helped them at all. Surely Ted Ginn wasn’t OSU’s ENTIRE game plan, right? RIGHT?
He won. He kept winning. He beat them all. Iowa in the Gator Bowl after a strange onsides kick call got overturned – he beat them anyways.
Nobody can doubt his ability to coach a big game. A close game – you might as well have your money on Pope Urban. He seems untouchable.
But, It’s the little things that piss me off about him. TWO WORDS: “Go Score”.
That’s what he said to his coaches (supposedly) during the Florida State game this year. Up 7, having been dominated thoroughly the whole game, despite three big plays and one big drive – Urban wanted to ram the ball down FSU’s throat and impress the pollsters with a 14 point win on the road. Surely, that would get his team the respect they deserved, right?
Wrong. Here’s the problem i have. YOU DIDN’T DO IT. You didn’t have the stones to do it, maybe because you remember the time you tried to do it against Alabama, and tried to run Tebow at the end of the game, and he fumbled the ball away for a turnover. Surely, that was in his head, right?
So – then I have to assume that he only said this – which he mentioned in at least 3 interviews. All 3 different quotes, but basically the same story – he said “Let’s Go Score” and was talked out of it. But he didn’t score. So, why is he trying to belittle the game, or embarrass us any further? (like we need the help)
Had he actually attempted it – well, that’s a different conversation. But he took a knee or two and got out of there. No hesitations from where I was sitting. But he says they could have scored.
Gator Fans, could you imagine in the year 2000 – when FSU was looking for a National Title game berth (through the almighty BCS) after losing a heart breaker on the road to Miami – and Miami being on the verge of taking our berth in that game (which, YES, we lost) – but pay attention. Could you ever imagine Bowden saying after the 30-7 thumping (aka – the “smoke at doak”): “Well, dadgummit – we certainly hope that’s enough there (for the pollsters). We only scored 3 in the 4th quarter, but I wanted to keep scoring some points there. We probably could have hung 50 or 60 on ‘em if we wanted to – but you know – Ann told me to be classy about the whole thing.”
Wouldn’t happen. Ever. Normal coaches don’t have to tell the media what they shoulda-coulda-woulda. Just get it done. Urban Meyer is like the guy from your average high school party that went around getting shot down by every reasonably hot girl in the room – but then went back home and told all his friends “I could have totally gone home with ANY of those girls”.
(Originally, I had planned to stretch that metaphor into one somehow involving his goofy older brothers hot friends – meaning Ron Zook’s wealth of talent on the UF roster that Urban inherited – but it got too late, and my brain stopped working right.)
My favorite moment of College Gameday this season: They run a story the week before the SEC title game entitled “How Urban Meyer plugged the holes in Chris Leak.” Sure, clever use of metaphor. Yeah. Okay. WAIT. I’ll say it one more time for emphasis.
Urban Meyer plugged the holes of Chris Leak. Well, thanks ESPN, for that graphic imagery. I can only imagine that silly little Tebow was waiting patiently nearby for his turn, too.
So – What else is there? Is this the time in the article where I quote the great Dan Jenkins? legendary sportswriter who said of the University of Hogtown: “They have the arrogance of Notre Dame – and the tradition of Wake Forest”.
Everyone uses that quote. I can’t fall prey to that (too late).
So, in closing – Yeah, yeah – the stars aligned and you won. I get it. Now every time I walk into Publix I have to be subject to the massive gator propaganda spree – THANK GOD FOR VALENTINE’S DAY clearing that noise out of the way. And yeah, you’re number one in basketball, and you won that last year, too. Great. Fantastic. I get it. We’re sooooo far behind you.
Here’s my thing, though. I can now ALMOST imagine what it must have been like for the fourteen straight years (minus the one mulligan in ’96) – that we dominated college football. That OUR recruiting classes were questioned to be the “greatest of all time”, when WE were on the cover of every preseason magazine (and half of ‘em had us as Number One) – or the 2 National Titles we won – the years that you had a ticket stub to look at and think that YOU could have been the team to prevent it.
I get that now. Except for – well, the fact that it was just the one year of dominance. The one time in the BCS since – well, who the hell knows it was so long ago. I can only imagine what 13 more seasons of this would feel like.
Eh, who knows? We probably don’t have that much to worry about anyways. We all know your track record when it comes to consistency.
Besides, we’ve only been around for the last 50 or so years, 30 or so on the “national scene”. Miami is the same way. Think of that whole other 70 or so years when you had the whole state of Florida recruiting to yourself. All that speed, all that talent – and ONE state school. All you got out of that was a couple of probations. Seems like SUCH a waste. Oh well.
See ya next year.
PS – You still suck.