Here's what we've learned

Published: Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 9, 2009 at 6:56 p.m.

FORT LAUDERDALE Urban Meyer was working on no sleep.

OK, he got about an hour's worth. Too pumped up to sleep. Who wasn't?

"I'm going to force myself and our staff to really get some time with their families and do some stuff together so we enjoy this thing," he said. "Two years ago when it happened, I don't remember too much about it. Two years ago was just running from here to there."

I couldn't help but reflect to that December day in 2004 when Meyer was to be introduced as Florida's new coach. He stepped through a tunnel in the southeast corner of the stadium, looked around and smiled. Could he have seen this?

Could anybody?

Of course, everyone in the Gator Nation hoped, but how many knew what they were getting?

This wild ride.

Four national titles since April 2006. I'm not saying Meyer deserves credit for the basketball crowns, but just think about that statistic.

Four national titles in 33 months.

I'm sure there are a lot of you who just want to pinch yourselves. But this is real. And what happened Thursday night was real. So here are the five real things we learned from Florida's 24-14 win over Oklahoma.

1. The SEC still rules.

For all of the hype about the Big 12, the SEC is still the best conference in the land. In a "down year" the league dominated the postseason despite having several unfavorable matchups.

Ole Miss beating Texas Tech, Vandy beating Boston College, LSU over Georgia Tech, even Kentucky over East Carolina without the 'Cats' starting quarterback. They were all big wins for the best conference in college football. The clunkers by Alabama and South Carolina were the only losses, as the league went 6-2.

And, of course, winning the national championship for the third straight year had Mike Slive's buttons popping.

2. Florida is lucky there are so many idiots out there.

No matter what the reason, Charlie Strong is still Florida's defensive coordinator despite a thick resume that just got stronger Thursday night.

"That's one of the finest coaches in America," Meyer said Friday morning. "I don't want to push too hard because I don't want to lose him. He's that good. I need to be careful. I'm going to get very angry here in a minute. That's how much I care about Charlie Strong."

All I know is that in two national title games, Strong's defenses have given up 14 points each time. Like I said, Florida is lucky to have him and our community is lucky to continue to hold on to his family.

3. Florida will be No. 1.

In the preseason polls that matter next year, the Gators are going to be picked No. 1 as long as Tim Tebow stays. While Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes are almost definitely gone (both said after the game they have done all that they can do), nobody is going to bet against Tebow.

Least of all Dr. Football. (Congrats to Drew Copeland for finally beating me on The Picks. Putt-Putt is on me).

The interesting thing will be to see how the Gators handle it. Hopefully, better than Georgia did.

4. They aren't going away.

When Florida won the title two years ago, it was different.

"We knew what was coming," Meyer said. "We lost basically our entire defense and the backups weren't ready to play. I don't feel that way this year. I see a program that's set now."

We could be looking at a dynasty here. Certainly, two championships in three years is a mini-dynasty as it is. But it's not like Meyer is going to quit recruiting.

"The last week has been very good for Florida and recruiting," Meyer said.

It's going to be a lot like USC except in a tougher conference. Every year, the Gators will have a chance and because Meyer has shown what he can do on the biggest stages, there is no reason to think that more championships aren't coming.

And think about this. This season, Meyer beat six coaches who have won national championships. The man knows what he's doing.

5. It hasn't changed.

College football still comes down to a few big plays in a few big games. For Florida, the Alabama and Oklahoma wins were about making big plays in big situations.

It's difficult to get to these national title games unless your players make the necessary plays. Ahmad Black, Major Wright, Aaron Hernandez, Riley Cooper, David Nelson, Torrey Davis of all people. And, of course, Tebow and Harvin.

Making those big plays is more than talent. It's want-to. It's have-to.

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