Florida Football: Ranking the Gators' Top 10 Seasons of All Time
The Florida Gators are one of college football's most storied programs, especially in the BCS era.
Founded in 1906, the Gators were classified as an independent for the first few years and became members of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association and the Southern Conference before finally becoming a member of the SEC in 1933.
While it was rough going in the early years, Florida football has become one of the nation's most prestigious programs.
The Gators have three national championships, eight SEC championships and have produced 42 first-round draft picks.
Perhaps most impressive is that the Gators have won 217 games since 1990, more than any other NCAA team.
There are so many great players, coaches and fans that have been a part of this program that it was difficult to decide which seasons are the best.
With the list whittled down to 10, let's take a look at which are truly the greatest.
1952 Florida Gators (8-3)
Gators beat Georgia 30-0 (gatorcountry.com)
The 1952 season was the first time the Florida Gators won more than six games in the SEC.
Bob Woodruff was in his third season as the head coach of the Gators and he brought the team into serious contention in the SEC using alternating quarterbacks, Doug Dickey and Fred Robinson.
Apparently the two-quarterback system has not always drawn boos from the fans.
The Gators blew out rivals Miami (43-6) and Georgia (30-0) but finished 3-3 in conference play and in sixth place in the 12-member SEC.
Woodruff and the Gators finished the 1952 season with a close, 14-13, victory over the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes, the Gators first NCAA bowl win as a football program.
1960 Florida Gators (9-2)
1960 Florida Gators in action (fanbase.com)
The Gators were on the verge of claiming their first SEC title in 1960, but a heartbreaking 7-10 loss to Auburn at the end of October had the Gators finish second, one game behind Ole Miss.
Despite missing out on their chance to capture their first conference title in the SEC, head coach Ray Graves still managed to have one of the most successful seasons to date in his first year on the job.
The Gators upset the 10th-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on the way to notching their first nine-win season, also beating rivals Georgia (22-14), Florida State (3-0) and Miami (18-0) on the way.
The Gators finished with another close bowl victory, this time over 12th-ranked Baylor, 13-12.
1983 Florida Gators (9-2-1)
The Gators opened up the 1983 season with a big win at home over in-state rival Miami before notching a tie against USC at the Coliseum in the second week.
Florida reeled off five straight wins before losing back-to-back affairs to Auburn (21-28) and Georgia (9-10). The two losses landed Florida third in the SEC to finish the year, which led to a Gator Bowl matchup against Iowa.
The Gators nabbed a 14-6 victory and finished at No. 6 in the AP Poll, the first time they had ever finished in the Top 10.
1966 Florida Gators (9-2)
It was in Ray Graves' seventh season as head coach that the Gators really reached a new plateau of winning.
The Gators were led by senior quarterback Steve Spurrier, who recorded 4,848 passing yards and 442 rushing yards.
But Spurrier's most impressive moment came in the waning seconds against the Auburn Tigers. It wasn't a touchdown pass or run that saved a game, but a 40-yard field goal that gave the Gators a 30-27 victory.
It just happened to occur the same week Heisman voting ballots were sent out.
Spurrier went on to win the 1966 Heisman Trophy over Bob Griese and the Gators capped their season with an Orange Bowl victory over Georgia Tech.
Also to be noted, this was the season in which Florida medical researches developed the popular sports drink Gatorade, which attributed to the 1966 Gators' reputation as a "second-half team."
1995 Florida Gators (12-1)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
In Steve Spurrier's sixth year as head coach in Gainesville, the Gators achieved their first perfect regular season.
Spurrier's offense blew opponents out of the water as the Gators demolished Tennessee (62-37), stifled LSU (28-10), outpaced Auburn (49-38) and knocked off sixth-ranked Florida State (35-24).
In fact, the Gators won every regular-season matchup by a margin of 11 points or more.
After blowing out Arkansas, 34-3, in the SEC Championship game, the Gators headed to Tempe, Arizona to take on Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl with the national championship on the line.
Unfortunately, the Gators weren't able to obtain perfection, falling to the Cornhuskers, 62-24.
Nevertheless, the Gators had reached new heights, setting the stage for better seasons to come.
2007 Florida Gators (9-4)
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Even though the Florida Gators only notched nine wins and dropped important rivalry games against LSU and Georgia, this still remains one of the most memorable seasons in the program's history.
After winning the 2006 BCS National Championship, Urban Meyer's highly touted 2006 recruiting class made headlines heading into 2007.
A recruiting class that included one of Florida's, and perhaps the nation's, greatest players.
Tebow saw playing time on the previous year's national championship squad, but nobody could predict the player he would become.
It was a breakout year for the sophomore, as Tebow won the program's third Heisman Trophy and set numerous SEC single-season records.
The Gators finished the season with a heartbreaking loss to Michigan in the Citrus Bowl, but fans saw something special in Tebow and his teammates. Something that would bring Florida football to its peak in the coming years.
2009 Florida Gators (12-1)
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The Gators had finally achieved a perfect regular season under Urban Meyer after Tim Tebow decided to return for his senior season.
Florida rolled into the SEC Championship game, ranked No. 1 in the nation and looking to head to their second consecutive BCS National Championship game.
The Gators failed to show up against Alabama in the biggest game of the year, falling 13-32. It was perhaps the most heartbreaking loss in the program's 96-year history.
The effects of the loss still sting today.
Many consider the loss to be the breaking point of Meyer, causing him to "retire" a year later.
While the loss to Alabama kept the Gators from winning back-to-back National Championships, Florida sent out their seniors on a high note with a 51-24 Sugar Bowl win over Cincinnati.
1996 Florida Gators (12-1)
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After falling to Nebraska in the national championship the previous year, the Gators followed up with another fantastic season.
Spurrier's squad once again finished perfect in conference play and added another SEC title with a 45-30 victory over Alabama.
Florida also added a second Heisman Trophy winner to the list when quarterback Danny Wuerffel won the award that December.
The only imperfection was a 21-24 loss to Florida State in what fans thought could have ended their quest for the program's first national championship.
The Gators got their chance at a rematch against Florida State in the often-debated 1996 National Championship game. A contest that Florida easily won, 52-20, achieving the program's first national championship.
2006 Florida Gators (13-1)
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The Gators achieved their second national championship in Urban Meyer's second season as head coach by demolishing Ohio State, 41-14.
The stifling Florida defense limited the Buckeyes to only 82 total yards and 35 passing yards by Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith.
After needing an USC upset at the hands of UCLA and enough votes to edge Michigan in the polls, the Gators proved to be the unanimous No. 1 team in the land.
Florida overcame the toughest schedule in the nation and began the current streak of six consecutive national championships by the SEC.
2008 Florida Gators (13-1)
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The 2008 season was the peak of the Tebow era, the Meyer era and the Florida football program in the BCS era.
The Gators were led by 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, who delivered the most memorable speech in college football history after the Gators suffered their only regular-season loss, falling to Ole Miss.
The speech drove the Gators to perfection through the rest of the season, including a SEC Championship over what has become a new rival in Alabama.
The Gators defense once again prevailed in the national championship, holding the vaunted Oklahoma offense to only 14 points.
It was the single greatest year for the Florida football program.
But it is always great to be a Florida Gator.
Follow Cole Dolan on Twitter @ColeDolan