"Keep Meyer. Beat 'Bama" and other resolutions


Gator fans attend the Allstate Sugar Bowl University of Florida pep rally at Allstate Fan Fest on North Peters Street in the French Quarter Thursday, December 31, 2009.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, January 1, 2010 at 6:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 1, 2010 at 6:47 p.m.

NEW ORLEANS -- "Keep Meyer. Beat 'Bama."

That was Gail Hurston's New Year's resolution for the University of Florida football team and its coach, Urban Meyer. Hurston, a Mobile, Ala., resident, was standing near Cafe Du Monde in town for Friday's Sugar Bowl against Cincinnati with five family members, all decked out in orange and blue.

"Keep Meyer would be No. 1 by far," Hurston added, "because he'll help us beat 'Bama."

His father, Stan Hurston, is a UF graduate, and the family has long endured the teasing of Alabama supporters.

"They think that Alabama is going to be the dominant program," Stan Hurston said. "And basically that [the Southeastern Conference Championship] was the changing of the guard ... that Meyer and the Gators are going to be a second-rank team from now on."

The Hurstons don't hold with that. On a clear, blustery New Year's Day in the Crescent City, they were among several Gator supporters to share their resolutions for the team or for themselves as fans.

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"Gator Nation, stand up. Don't be fair-weather fans," said Donna Varnum, a Tallahassee resident walking near Jackson Square with her husband, Elliott, a 1977 UF grad. "We see that fair-weather thing a lot there [among Florida State supporters], and I've never seen it with Florida until the disappointment with Alabama."

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"We resolve to keep supporting the Gators until we get to a National Championship -- and go to it this time," said Barry Craig, a 1973 UF grad and resident of Palm Beach Gardens. He was here with his wife, Kristen, a 1990 graduate. They missed going to the 2008 BCS National Championship game in Miami in January 2009.

"I regret not going," she said. "I was thinking ahead that I really wanted to go to Pasadena [for this year's championship] instead. It's my fault. I jinxed the team."

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"We resolve to introduce our son to the Swamp [in] 2010," said Krystal Burns, of Orlando, a 1999 UF graduate and mother of 1-year-old Spencer. "He can recognize Tim Tebow, and he calls him BeBow.'"

Her husband, Brad, a 2000 UF graduate, added: "If he sees any football on TV -- college, professional, Pop Warner, it doesn't matter - he says, 'Go Gators!'"

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"My resolution is I will not buy tickets from scalpers -- they're criminals," said Dickie Sayles, of Cocoa Beach, a 1997 UF graduate. "And if I have extra tickets, I will give them away to little kids."

He said some of his family members were cheated by a scalper selling counterfeit tickets.

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"I'd like to see a [single] dedicated running back -- a New Year's resolution for Florida football," said Mark Grandusky, a 1997 UF graduate living in Sarasota. "They have like three guys that do it now. Pick one guy and let him have 20 carries."

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"My resolution [for the team] is to keep beating the Bulldogs until [Georgia coach] Mark Richt is run out of town. And it's close," said Bob Crossett, of Atlanta, as he stood in a line outside a French Quarter restaurant. The 1979 UF graduate is a season ticket holder with the Georgia license plate "GATORBOB."

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Randall Spencer, a former 15-year Gainesville resident, moved to Atlanta about a year and a half ago.

"I'd like to keep the Gator Nation alive and well in enemy territory," he said, "because the Georgia fans give us a lot of grief up there."

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"Beat Alabama," said Josh Pospy, 19, of Birmingham, Ala., "and for [quarterback] John Brantley to be as good as he's expected to be." He said Alabama fans have been "obnoxious," teasing UF fans about quarterback Tim Tebow's tears after the Gators' loss to the Tide.

"We've got a future," Pospy added. "Much of our defense is going to be back again. We've got to have some wide receivers step up. ... Urban Meyer is probably the best recruiter in the nation."

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