Gators are Uno Squared
Published: Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
The Chomp is champ. You can say that again. Once for Billy Donovan basketball, and now for Urban Meyer football. Gainesville is the chest-pounding capital of the college sports universe.
America's first double No. 1.
In an Arizona masterpiece beyond the most zealous UF fantasies, unbeaten Ohio State, Heisman Trophy quarterback Troy Smith and all Buckeyes were outsmarted, outrun, outpassed, outskilled, outkicked, outblocked, outschemed, outhustled and outmuscled.
Chompers 41, Yuckeyes 14.
After dessert in the desert, with the Meyer posse playing its most colossal game of a 13-1 season, voices were singing more lustily than ever, "It's great ... to be ... a Florida Gator."
Humility has become a tough find along University Avenue. I've been around UF football and basketball 50 years, never expecting to witness such a 1&1 high, so thoughts are a cascading, orange-and-blue waterfall ...
I still think it's more odious than a New York gas passing. Good for the Gators but, for the masses, and the long run, think how an eight-school playoff would've brought captivating national championship shots to USC, Louisville, LSU, Wisconsin and Boise State as well as Florida and Ohio State.
Not much of an NFL prospect but, in a dazzling personal triumph for persistence, class, courage and a sweet package of collegiate talent, the hero from Charlotte unquestionably becomes Florida's all-time No. 2 quarterback behind Danny Wuerffel, ahead of aces named Matthews, Grossman and Spurrier.
With a magical kick-block against South Carolina, plus still-flawless mastery of mega rivals Tennessee, Georgia and FSU, then dominating the SEC Championship Game, and scorching Ohio State, we saw second-year UF coach Meyer shuck Steve Spurrier and all Gator ghosts and demons.
For generations, "Script Ohio" has been a classic act of the Buckeye band, always with a hurrahed "dotting of the i," but now, don't you think, a far more imposing lettering is "Gators" scripted on orange helmets?
After a perplexing 4-for-13 stumble through 13 games, Florida's erstwhile solid placekicker was reborn Monday night as Adam Vinatieri; perfect on field goals of 43 and 40 yards at times when three points seemed really big for the Chomps.
EARL OF GLENDALE
Who will ever forget UF linebacker Earl Everett ... The Helmetless Assassin?
BUCKEYE LAYOFF, GAMBLE
Fifty-one days of game inactivity (blame it on the BCS) was poison for Ohio State, numbing athletic skills as well as creative minds, with even coach Jim Tressel going whacky with a fourth-and-one gamble that blew up to further fuel Florida's stranglehold.
Providing ultimate evidence against end-zone eruptions too extreme and physical, 16 seconds of Ohio State joy — over Ted Ginn Jr.'s game-opening 93-yard kickoff return — would be squashed by the friendly fire of teammates piling on, injuring the speed guy and leading to an ensuing 59:44 of Gator rule.
No worries about him jumping to pro football, but — oh my! — does 13-1 and No. 1 mean Florida's $2-million-a-year coach will expect Nick Saban money?
True, the foot flash of UF was too much for Yuckeyes to handle, but even more demonstrative was the power, sharpness and victorious emotions of Gator bigs — a DL that humiliated OSU's celebrated OL, and an offensive line from Gainesville that did remarkable work opening holes and keeping Columbus mitts off of Leak.
Give fired ex-UF coach Ron Zook a high five, for recruiting what became the nucleus of Meyer's champions.
He's a good TV analyst, that Kirk Herbstreit, and a noted old Buckeye, but his season-long assessments of UF have been more off line than Hetland's lousiest kicks ... but after Monday night's coup, a raspy-throated Lee Corso and his ESPN mate were amply bountiful in props for the Gators.
SPEAKING OF TV
Fox does well with NFL coverage but the network was semi-lost on college football. Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long did weak analyst jobs along the BCS way, and Barry Alvarez was inadequate. Give us Joe Buck. Charles Davis did some good stuff, including chirping that, "Gators are winning everything basketball, football and (Emmitt Smith's) Dancing with the Stars."
It was a down '06 for FSU and Miami but our state, thanks to the Gators, wins its ninth national championship, all in the past 24 years, with five for the 'Canes and now two apiece for UF and the 'Noles
ALMOST LEFT OUT
Florida wouldn't have made the BCS final without UCLA's inexplicable upset of USC, and a Gator romp over Arkansas for the SEC trophy, and probably Meyer's efficient politicking for a UF leap of Michigan in pre-bowls BCS rankings.
Months ago, I called the block-long Haile Plantation street where both Donovan and Meyer live a "power cul-de-sac" ... now even more accurate.
Ohio State couldn't throw passes far enough for Florida's fab safety to snag an interception, but on a night when the kid wearing No. 1 played with a heavy heart, his experience was heavenly.
What millions of eyes saw was the best team from the best conference, with the best/toughest schedule, putting its best and deepest bite on an opponent misranked as America's best.
Contact columnist Hubert Mizell at email@example.com.
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