In Glendale, Gators party, trash talk, bask in win

Published: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 7:07 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

GLENDALE, ARIZ. — From Glendale parking lots to the bars of Scottsdale, Gator fans celebrated the BCS National Championship into the wee hours this morning.

"We're partying all night long — We're closing Phoenix down!" said University of Florida graduate Kelly Hafferly, 28, of West Palm Beach.

After watching the University of Florida dominate the Ohio State Buckeyes in a manner virtually no one predicted, hundreds of Gator fans stayed inside the stadium to savor the championship trophy ceremony. Players mugged for the cameras and reveled in the adulation of the Gator Nation.

"Florida fans are the best fans in the country," said Tim Tebow, UF's back-up quarterback and the heir-apparent leader of Florida's offense.

A massive police presence ensured fans stayed in the stands. Leaning over a railing in the southern end zone, Jordan Isrow, 22, said he graduated in the winter and couldn't ask for a better way to end his college years.

"This is the best closure we could ever have," he said.

Hundreds of fans spilled into the entertainment complex near the University of Phoenix Stadium. Outside the Yard House bar and restaurant, UF senior Jeff Crutchfield, 22, said he was likely staying up all night in anticipation of his 6 a.m. flight to Florida.

"It's lame they didn't cancel classes tomorrow," he said.

Some Gators faced an even longer trip. UF grad Adam Stern, 37, said traveling from Shanghai, China, meant a day's worth of flights and $4,000 to $5,000 in total costs.

"People said I was crazy to come to this game (but) every penny was worth it," he said.

Even though this was the first meeting between Florida and Ohio State, fans were already treating the game like a major rivalry. Michael Massari, 28, spared no time in taking a jab at Ohio State coach Jim Tressel.

Tressel "committed a personal foul — excessive sweater-vesting," Massari said.

Derek Parks, 25, of Tampa was among fans headed to the recreated version of The Swamp in Scottsdale to celebrate the victory. He said he'd catch a few hours sleep before waking for an important mission.

"I've got some shopping to do for national championship gear," he said.

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