Lack of respect motivated them, UF players say


Published: Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 6:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

Sun sports writer

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The game was over. The season was over.

So Florida's players held nothing back when sharing their thoughts about Ohio State after Monday night's 41-14 win in the BCS title game.

"In our league (the SEC) they would probably lose four games," Gators tailback DeShawn Wynn said. "They were supposed to be a super team. But that was just to the media and the Big Ten."

Wynn wasn't alone. The Buckeyes weren't getting a bit of respect amid the hoopla of Florida's post-game locker room. Most players agreed the Buckeyes were barely among the top five teams Florida has played this season.

"They would be in my top five. Probably at No. 5," Gators defensive end Jarvis Moss said. "You've got LSU, Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio State."

The game's Defensive MVP, Derrick Harvey, agreed with Moss. But Harvey went a step further.

"Go ahead and throw Kentucky on there," Harvey said.

That may be a stretch. But Florida said the Buckeyes were far inferior than many people made them out to be.

Ohio State's 82 yards of total offense was just 23 more than Western Carolina rolled up on the Gators in November.

Even Vanderbilt, which didn't make a bowl this year, had 391 yards of offense against Florida.

"This was the easiest game we've played all year," Florida defensive end Ray McDonald said.

In the post-game locker room, Brandon Siler and Tony Joiner mocked Ohio State's Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Troy Smith. Siler and Joiner locked arms and talked into a video camera held in Siler's outstretched hand.

"That was the Heisman winner," Siler yelled into the camera as he wore a national championship T-shirt, beads and a metal chain the names of his teammates attached to it.

Siler and Joiner said that during a timeout, they asked Smith to autograph a football for them.

"I told him, 'I'm a big fan of yours,' " Siler said. "He laughed at me and walked off."

The Gators said they were motivated by what they perceived was a lack of respect. Florida arrived in Glendale following weeks of debate about which team was worthy of challenging the Buckeyes.

"It's unbelievable how many people counted us out the way they did," Moss said.

Gators coach Urban Meyer used the underdog role and hype surrounding Ohio State to motivate his team.

"You start messing around with people's pride, and I try not to watch, but for 30 days we have been watching it, too," Meyer said. "You start rubbing that for a day or two and you get over it. You do it for 30 days and you have a bunch of tigers. I really enjoyed coaching this team and it wasn't hard (to motivate them) over the past 30 days."

Meyer went on to praise the Buckeyes. Likewise, Ohio State gave Florida its due respect afterward.

"Florida is extremely well-coached and just a great team," Smith said. "I can't say enough about those guys."

Contact Brandon Zimmerman at 374-5051 or zimmerb@gvillesun.com.

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