The greatest ever?


So I’m flipping through something that I didn’t even know existed — the BCS record book — the other day after it arrived from the lovely people at the Rose Bowl, and I came across something that was interesting.

And when I say it was interesting, I mean that I didn’t realize it but it makes perfect sense. It also goes to my assertion that one of the greatest teams ever at Florida was, well, let’s not give it away. Instead, I present it in the form of a trivia question.

What team has the record for most yards ever in a BCS bowl game?

The answer: Your Florida Gators in the 2002 Orange Bowl.

Florida gained 659 yards in that Orange Bowl win over Maryland and also has the BCS record for most points scored (56) and passing yards (456). If you remember, Rex Grossman was suspended at the beginning of the game for missing curfew (the players he was with were not suspended) until Steve Spurrier got tired of watching Brock Berlin and inserted Grossman into the game. From that point on it was an offensive clinic.

That was Spurrier’s last game at Florida. Of course, he was the only one who knew it. I guess he went out with a bang.

Now, you may think I’m out of my mind, but of all the team’s in Gator history, that’s the team I would want to play the least. I know, they lost twice (by a total of five points). But that team was scary good.

Your thoughts are welcome and don’t forget you can Tweet me at and check out my next Web TV show Thursday morning at The Pat Dooley Show had its first injury, as John Adams of the Knoxville News Sentinel had an accident at The Swamp and is unable to be this week’s guest (he tripped and hurt his leg). We’ve put him on the Physically Unable to Perform List.

Thankfully, my good buddy Noah Brindise is going to step in. Check it out.


  1. Good find Pat. I remember that Maryland game where SOS waved as he left the field. A sign of things to come. Look where it led us though. We’ve got the best coach in the game today and our Gators are on fire. It’s Tennessee week and all is good in the Gator Nation . . .

  2. As odd as that sounds, I definitely would have to agree. Another few bits that people might not remember from that season, but the two losses came when Florida was without Earnest Graham at tailback (and subsequently lost the rushing battles). And also that year Florida had Tennessee as the final regular season game AFTER FSU thanks to Osama Bin Laden and company. And if I remember correctly, early on that September Tennessee had been reeling from an unexpected loss and was not looking in tip top shape. Ah well, the what if’s are endless…..

  3. That team was amazing. That’s also the team that would have won the National Championship except for Earnest Graham’s two injuries. That year we lost to Auburn 23-20 (Graham didn’t play) and, because of September 11th, we played the Vols after FSU, and good ole Darnell Dockett took care of our chances in that game by purposely injuring Graham. Grossman’s Heisman campaign and another UF championship were ruined by DD. I hate that dude!

  4. I agree, I’ve told Gators for years that was the best offense SOS had at UF. If E. Graham hadn’t have missed the Auburn and UT games that year with injuries UF would have gone unbeaten and made for a great matchup with Miami in the championship game. Spurrier’s offenses always needed a bit of a bruiser (Rhett, Taylor, Graham) to thrive and it showed in those two games since there was no real depth there.

  5. The 2001 team should have played for the national title. They were 10-0 with Earnest Grahm, 0-2 without him. But they can’t be considered THE best or toughest when they didn’t even make the conference championship game. Plus, their defense was not ferocious. As UT made very clear.

  6. Pat;

    As crazy as this sounds, I agree with you 110%. I have always thought that team was Coach Spurrier’s best. It is my opinion that if Earnest Graham is not injured (a complete cheap shot by Darnell Dockett) that we would have beaten Tennessee in the Swamp at the end of the season.
    The game that Rex Grossman had against LSU in Baton Rouge was the best performance I ever seen a Gator quarterback have.


  7. I enjoyed being at that game immensely, especially since the Maryland fans were trash talking so loud before the game. Curiously, they shut up about .5 seconds after Grossman was reinserted and started blowing the lights out of the scoreboard.

    Pat- maybe you can help us with this one. I think I recall you saying you thought the 1995 Gator team was better than the 1996 Gator team, and now you’re making the argument that the 2001 team is the team you would “want to play the least”. What about Spurrier? What team of his at Florida did Spurrier thing was the best?

  8. Last years team would have beaten that Spurrier team. The number one reason I say that is, discipline, had that team had some restraint and not want to party and miss curfew then maybe it would have been the best, but I will take last years team any day over that 2002 team.

  9. I like to look at what high quality teams a team beats. The 97 team spanked a 2-loss UT and beat a FSU team that was arguably the best team in the nation. Once DJ ironed mistakes out and Spurrier realized his best offensive weapon was Fred Taylor, they rolled. The 97/98 defenses were scary.

  10. How the “84 team with Neal Anderson, John L. Williams, Lomas Brown and a ton of other future NFL players? If memory serves, the highest ranked team in UF history up to that time.

    I agree with Pat that the “01 team was great, though I still can’t explain why Andra Davis, Mike Nattiel and others couldn’t tackle Travis Stepehns (UT). Stephens bounced off them like a pinball all day.

    I would love to see the “84, “96, “01 and “08 teams in a four team tournament. I would take any one of them.

  11. Stuart is right. That game in Baton Rouge has to be the worst loss ever suffered by an SEC champion. I’ve never seen a home team get mauled like that. LSU and Saban had no answers and Saban said as much afterwards. I don’t know that that team would’ve beaten all the 1st round draft picks the Hurricanes had but nobody who watched that season can’t say those weren’t the 2 best teams. By far.

  12. off topic: The BCS system has been good to the Gators recently but I still think a playoff is the way to go. I’d like for you to think about starting a “Boycott the Bowls” movement to negatively affect the bowl ratings and revenues and move us toward a playoff. I can see columns listing other things to do rather than watching meaningless bowl games. If we ever do move to a playoff the bowl games can be part of it and the interest level and revenues would be phenomenal. Thanks.

  13. I agree with you, and I get the same strange looks when I suggest it as well. That was the most impressive offense the Gators have ever had, and Rex was robbed for the Heisman. His stats were impressive enough, but so many people didn’t realize how little of the game he played. He had 5 or 6 straight games that he had over 300 yards passing… by the half! And this was in the heart of the SEC schedule. I would love to see a matchup of 01’s offense vs 06’s defense, which likewise is very underrated.

  14. No Florida team has been better than the 2008 National Championship team yet. That team was 1 extra point away from an undefeated season (the kick actually hit the upright if I’m not mistaken). After that, Florida destroyed every opponent in an amazingly explosive way. I think if we want to talk about Florida’s best, we need to include a team having the most exciting player in college football: Percy Harvin and the most valuable quaterback in the history of the sport: Tim Tebow. Only the 2009 Team could surpass the 2008 if they go undefeated. Our defense is the best in the country. We cannot forget that the 1996 team gave us the first NC, and it also avenged its only loss of 3 points in the championship game. The 96 team hung half a hundred points on a lot of teams that year.

  15. My thoughts are consistent with the notes I’ve read above. 1. If Earnest Graham was playing in the two losses, we probably would have won them, and perhaps the national championship. 2. Darnell Dockett purposely and egregiously injured Graham. It speaks to the differences in the two coaches. Bobby looked the other way with his “well I didn’t see nothing… boys will be boys” approach to non-discipline in pursuit of titles. Spurrier would have either defended the reputation of the university and thrown him off of the team, or sat him for an extended period of time. 3. Tim Tebow was not the first sophmore to win the Heisman. Grossman did. They just refused to give it to the obvious choice. Not sure if that was mentioned above.

  16. The only thing keeping the 2001 team from the NC game was a botched two point conversion attempt from Grossman to Gaffney, if Grossman had held on another half second before his throw we may have seen UF win it’s second NC against the Canes as Gaffney was just breaking free from coverage.

    But in my opinion last year’s team had more defense and more offensive capability than the 2001 team, guess that sorta makes this year’s team in the running too! We’ll see how they adjust against UK!! GO GATORS!!!

  17. Here’s something else that’s an eerie look into our NC teams. Every national championship year we play at least one small, unranked team EXTREMELY close.

    In 1996 – Vandy by a TD. Back then a 7 point win over them WAS a squeaker.

    In 2006 – Vandy again AND of course the S. Carolina game.

    In 2008 – Our squeaker game was our only loss, so we didn’t squeak by that one.

    I think it goes to show ya that even our “best” teams struggle at times through the season whether its due to injuries, gameplan, or what have you….not necessarily because of the quality of opponent. This year, I’m hoping UT was the close-call game and that 10 points is as close of a margin as we have this year. GO GATORS!

  18. I’m as big a Gator fan as anyone. Alum, etc. That Miami team would have killed us in 2001. Just my opinion. That Miami team was off the charts. Further, i think you could make an argument that the best Gator team was the 1995 team that got spanked by Nebraska. We were great, Nebraska was better. Last year’s team was pretty darn good too. Beat a better Alabama team without Percy Harvin, we’ll probably do it again this year.