'Ring of Honor' on display

Former University of Florida quarterback and 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel accepts the Florida Football Ring of Honor before the game against Alabama on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

TRACY WILCOX/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Sunday, October 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
Florida inducted the first four members of its Gator Football Ring of Honor before Saturday's game with Alabama.
Inducted but not in attendance was Emmitt Smith, the NFL's all-time leading rusher and current hotstepper on the "Dancing With the Stars" reality show. He delivered a taped message that aired on the JumboTron. Smith also is a member of the Dallas Cowboys' Ring of Honor.
The other three inductees were in attendance: former defensive end Jack Youngblood (the only Gator currently in the NFL Hall of Fame), former coach/Heisman-trophy winning quarterback Steve Spurrier and former Heisman-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel.
Spurrier, whose South Carolina team was defeated 24-17 by Auburn on Thursday, had perhaps the line of the ceremony when he thanked former coach Ray Graves "for bringing this hillbilly kid from Tennessee here."
The four inductees' names and numbers were placed on 18-foot wide and 5-foot high signs in the north end zone for permanent display.
For a player or coach to merit consideration into the Ring of Honor, the individual must be at least five years removed from playing for UF and at least one of the following criteria must be met.
  • Heisman winners
  • Former UF All-Americans inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame for accomplishments as players
  • Former UF All-Americans who are NFL career category leaders
  • Collegiate career category leaders
  • Coaches with national championships at UF
  • Coaches who led UF to at least three SEC championships
  • Players with three or more consensus All-American honors (AP, Walter Camp, Sporting News, AFCA, FWAA, UPI)
  • Two-time national offensive or defensive players of the year (AP, Walter Camp, Sporting News, AFCA, FWAA, UPI) "Right now, I will say there is not a plan to do this every year," said athletic director Jeremy Foley, pointing out the induction criteria will be difficult for even some of the most heralded Gators of all time to reach.

    ESPN College GameDay

    Not so fast, my friend.
    During ESPN's College GameDay broadcast from the University of Iowa campus, a white sign with orange and blue writing touted "Tebow 4 Heisman." This prompted analyst (and former Ohio State quarterback) Kirk Herbstreit to say that when GameDay comes to Gainesville for next week's game with LSU, he wanted to talk with Gator fans about treating starting quarterback Chris Leak better.
    But it's not even definite the GameDay crew of Herbstreit, Chris Fowler and Lee Corso will be in town Saturday. Florida Sports Information director Steve McClain said ESPN won't officially notify UF of those intentions until today.
    He added that on at least one occasion in the past Fowler has signed off saying GameDay would emanate from Gainesville the next week only to go elsewhere.

    Tebow talk

    Last December the Gators and Crimson Tide were engaged in a battle to get the services of Ponte Vedra Beach Nease quarterback Tim Tebow.
    Ultimately, the 2005 Florida Dairy Farmers' Mr. Football winner picked UF, his childhood favorite, but only after Alabama coach Mike Shula made a spirited recruiting pitch Tebow said had him seriously considering the Crimson Tide.
    Alabama fans haven't forgotten. Prior to Saturday's contest, Alabama students sounded off about Tebow.
    "He was at last year's game," Birmingham's Michael Carter said with a smirk. "I guess since the Gators got crushed (31-3), he felt like they needed him more."
    Added Barry Clark of Anniston: "Maybe he just wanted to go to a basketball school. We're known for our football in Alabama."


  • "Chris Leak ran 45 yards. ... There you go," - Gator coach Urban Meyer while sporting a big grin after the game.
  • "There's not an ugly win at the University of Florida. There never will be." - Meyer
  • "As a quarterback you know how important it is to have the crowd behind you, especially at home." - Leak discussing the electricity of The Swamp.

    Extra points

    Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history, was on hand wearing an Alabama shirt. His son, Mike, coaches the Crimson Tide. ... When the Gator starters were announced on the JumboTron before the game, the loudest ovation from fans was for Leak. His return to the field in the Kentucky game during a second-half series was greeted with boos. Whether the booing was for Leak or because Tebow had been removed has been debated all week in the media and on Internet message boards. ... The white throwback helmets the Gators wore Saturday were from 1966. The blue uniform tops were from 1967. ... Among the past Gators in attendance Saturday was Jeff Mitchell. He won a national championship with UF in 1996 and Super Bowl XXXV with the Baltimore Ravens.
    Contact John Patton at 374-5074 or pattonj@gvillesun.com.
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