Notebook: BCS champs put on halftime show

Published: Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 11:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 11:57 p.m.

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow showed up wearing a sling. UF coach Urban Meyer smiled but didn't say a word. And junior wide receiver David Nelson provided some bulletin board material heading into next season.

Florida's 2008 BCS championship football team was honored at halftime of UF's 80-65 win against Arkansas. The crowd of 12,348 at the O'Connell Center cheered as a handful of players and coaches, including Tebow, Nelson and cornerback Joe Haden made their way to mid-court, displaying the crystal championship trophies.

Instead of Meyer, Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong first addressed the crowd, thanking fans for their support following Florida's lone loss against Ole Miss.

"We return all 11 starters from the championship game on offense, all 11 on defense," Strong told the crowd. "Don't worry next season when we give up a touchdown because when you have a quarterback like Tim Tebow, you always have a chance."

Receiver Percy Harvin, who declared Thursday for the NFL draft, didn't start the BCS championship game due to an ankle sprain but was a key part in Florida's 24-14 win over Oklahoma.

Nelson also thanked the crowd and thanked Tebow for returning, saying, "I think we proved who should have won the Heisman Trophy this season."

Tebow, who underwent shoulder surgery earlier this week, was the final Florida player to address the crowd.

"If you're worried about my shoulder, don't be," said Tebow, who announced last Sunday he's returning for his senior season. "I'll be ready in time for the spring."


Florida coach Billy Donovan was asked following Saturday's win if he felt like the Gators deserved to be ranked. Florida, ranked 19 the preseason AP and ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, fell out of the top 25 in early December following its second loss of the season at Florida State.

Since, Florida (16-2, 3-0 SEC) has won 10th straight. On Saturday, Florida beat an Arkansas team that had pulled off wins against ranked opponents Oklahoma and Texas earlier this season.

"I think some teams are ranked because they play their way in, and other teams get ranked because teams ahead of them lost," Donovan said. "I don't know if we warrant being ranked at this point. We've been ranked before and you want to be ranked, but you want to be able to earn your way into it.

"If we get ranked at this point it will be because a lot of teams at 19-25 had a rough Saturday."


Donovan was honored in a brief ceremony before Saturday's game against Arkansas for posting his 300th win at Florida last Wednesday against Auburn.

Donovan was presented with a commemorative basketball ball from Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley.

Donovan is one of just of four Southeastern Conference coaches to post 300 or more wins at one school, joining Adolph Rupp (875 with Kentucky), Dale Brown (448 at LSU) and Harry Rabenhorst (340 at LSU).


Florida freshman forward Allan Chaney returned to action Saturday after not making the trip last Wednesday at Auburn due to back spasms.

In four minutes, Chaney had no points, one rebound, two fouls and one turnover.

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