It was June of 1992 when Steve Spurrier, fresh off Florida’s first official SEC title, called The Sun columnist Mike Bianchi with a new name for the stadium that would eventually bear his name.
In the years that followed, there have been some unbelievable games and players. Sun writers Pat Dooley and Robbie Andreu came up with their rankings of the 25 best moments since 1992 when Spurrier gave it that moniker.
No. 12 — Jan. 11, 2009
The set-up: The Gators and about 42,000 of their fans gathered in The Swamp on this date, only two days after UF beat Oklahoma in the BCS national title game, to celebrate the program’s third national championship and second in three years. The Gators had reached the championship game by outscoring Alabama 14-0 in the fourth quarter of the SEC title game to pull out a 31-20 victory. In the national title game, the Gators beat the high-powered Sooners 24-14 behind quarterback Tim Tebow, wide receiver Percy Harvin and a suffocating defense.
The moment: Many Florida fans showed up at The Swamp not only to celebrate but to also possibly to say goodbye to Tebow, one of the most beloved players in UF history who was contemplating an early exit to the NFL along with Harvin and star junior linebacker Brandon Spikes. Near the end of the celebration, Tebow, with former national championship quarterbacks Danny Wuerffel and Chris Leak standing right behind him, took the mic to address the standing and cheering crowd. What he said triggered the loudest and most raucous moment of the day — a celebration within a celebration.
The result: Tebow started out by saying, “It was one of the best decisions of my entire life to come here to the University of Florida. I want to thank coach (Urban) Meyer for giving me an opportunity to be a Gator. I love him, he’s like a father figure to me. I want to thank all these coaches. I want to thank my players. I love you guys. Thanks for all the memories.” Tebow paused and then delivered the biggest news of the day: “Oh, by the way, let’s do it again! I’m coming back!” The Swamp became an insane asylum.
The quote: “I just remember working so hard in that offseason. It was one of the hardest I ever had in my life. I remember doing the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. I remember we were doing 180-something pushups for (Georgia running back Knowshon) Moreno rushing for all those yards against us (in 2007). A bunch of crazy things. Ultimately, it made us a better team and a closer one and gave us memories we’ll never forget.
“(The celebration) was awesome. I remember going back to The Swamp and hanging out with our fans and cheering on our national championship with the people who loved us and believed in us, just getting out there and being able to bring home a championship for the city of Gainesville again, back to Title Town. I still have my ring on today.
“I found out (Tebow) was staying before (the celebration). He came up to me and Major (Wright) and was like, ‘Hey, when I announce I’m coming back I want you guys to come and embrace me.’ That’s what you see in some of the pictures, me coming on stage and embracing him.” — safety Ahmad Black, who had a crucial interception in the second half in the win over Oklahoma.
Editor’s note: You have one Swamp game moment that comes to mind? Tell us what it is.Maybe it’s already on our Top 25 list. We’ll update readers on top moments from fans as the countdown proceeds.