Why does America love to hate the Florida Gators?
Why do they love to hate the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots and the New York Yankees? It's nice being in the rarified air of champions on the one hand. While on the other, you realize your favorite team somehow became one of the most hated teams in America!
What's up with this? I thought America loved a winner? America does, until they get down. Then, America moves on.
How many times has ESPN been around on game day lately? How many do they have scheduled for this year? Used to be every time Florida played UT, Alabama or LSU, there was the ESPN crew.
The Gators dug themselves out of the also-ran mediocrity in the early '90s and have been a big-time winner ever since. America surely knows that the past couple of years will slide into history just as the Zook years of 2002 through 2004.
Florida will be back—and soon—in the hunt for SEC and national championships. In the meantime, let's explore the top nine reasons why America loves to hate the Gators.
Florida is one of those states where the people, in general, are healthier. They get out into the sunshine more, get more exercise and enjoy life.
Just one of many reasons many Americans that live in colder, less healthy climates have a built-in jealousy of Floridians.
Imagine living in the north where most of football season it's so cold you need an overcoat to go to the game. Imagine the pretty girls having to stay wrapped up about five months out of the year. Not in Central Florida. Sure, it rains some, but the sun comes out most every day.
Why do you think most of the bowl games are played here? Why is Florida the home for spring break for the college world?
Florida is chock full of reasons that would make colder climate dwellers jealous. Maybe that is why the rest of America loves to hate the Gators.
New Gator coach Will Muschamp is a very fiery, intense guy. He moved up the coaching ranks very quickly and has been a very successful defensive coordinator at Auburn, Miami Dolphins, Texas and LSU, to name the most notable programs.
Muschamp was an assistant head coach at Miami and with the Texas Longhorns. There, he was considered their "head coach in waiting." When the opportunity presented to coach one of the premiere college programs in the nation last season, Muschamp jumped on it.
He is in charge of rebuilding the program after Urban Meyer decided suddenly to retire in 2010. He is going into season two of transitioning the team away from Meyer's spread option offensive system to more of a pro set.
There was a lot to do in recruiting the different type of athlete required to run the new offensive system versus the one Meyer had. In addition, Muschamp had to deal with a new offensive coordinator in Charlie Weis, who was slowed somewhat being in between systems—and apparently, jobs—for his one-year stint.
With the hiring of Brent Pease, those issues now appear to be in the rearview mirror and the winning times just around the corner for the new coach and his team.
Perhaps that is why America loves to hate the Gators. They moved swift and surely in the midst of the huge uproar and changes caused by the sudden departure of their beloved coach. They were able to pick and hire the replacement they wanted. There was no drawn out process and embarrassing situations where who they wanted didn't want them.
Just like that, Florida got its man, and just like that, he is getting things set straight and ready to return the program to prominence.
Perhaps this is the reason the rest of America loves to hate the Gators?
Perhaps it is Albert that makes most Americans hate the University of Florida. After all, it is difficult to make a gator cute and cuddly—like say, a bulldog, a chicken or a cute little bear thingy—like they have at Mississippi now.
The history of Albert and Alberta and how they came to represent the University of Florida is recounted in this Gator Zone article.
There are several versions of Albert available. The one here is the headshot, likely the most popular. There is also one that features him on the move. You can find some form of Albert attached to Florida gear—or people—all over the world.
Perhaps it is this tough relic of the dinosaur age that is the reason many Americans love to hate Florida. The logo, like the program reminds all of something that is made to last, regardless of the obstacles.
Maybe it's the Gator Chomp? Not like the organized one you see here. This would have a hard time offending anyone. It's pretty much synchronized clapping.
No, what I'm talking about is the sudden ones that start randomly after a good play. Or, it starts as a fan in attire for another team passes near. Suddenly, as if a cue were given, the chomp starts—while all around, others join in—and very soon it's loud and they are surrounded by a hundred people chomping.
Just moments ago, all was relatively quite as they walked along. Then bam, it starts! It's like a Florida Gators version of Flash Mob, all pointed at you. Then, all together, you hear a Go Gators! And just as quickly, everything goes back to the way it was.
Almost unsettling, if you're not ready for it. Maybe it's that feeling that the group is all bigger than whatever is around, that being a part of a special clique.
Maybe that's why the rest of America loves to hate the Gators.
A.K.A. "The Swamp," where only Gators get out alive.
This beautiful stadium officially seats 88,548. But it regularly has nearly 90,000 in attendance for games with SEC rivals like Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and others.
Steve Spurrier began to refer to the stadium as "The Swamp" in the early '90s and the name stuck. For visiting teams, coming away with a win in the Swamp is an almost impossible task. Even during the down cycles, Florida plays well at home.
The stadium has been around since October 27, 1930. When it first opened, the capacity was 21,769. There have been several additions and major renovations over the years to the present day.
The stadium is designed strictly to accommodate football, thus fans are close to the action all the way around the field. This cozy configuration also adds to the noise level. I can attest to that, as I heard it full force on December 2, 2001 at Tennessee vs. Florida. It was as loud as Neyland that evening.
Perhaps it is this huge, very loud and appropriately-named home to the Gators that is the reason the rest of America loves to hate the Gators?
Be truthful, moms and dads. How many of you would not want your daughter to marry Tim Tebow? Bet there isn't a huge show of hands on that one.
Tim Tebow played quarterback at Florida for four years. As a freshman, he was second string to starting senior quarterback Chris Leak. He did see some action throughout the year.
In most cases, he was called on to run quarterback draws rather than pass. Leak was an excellent passer and Tebow was virtually impossible to tackle when he only needed a yard or less.
Coach Urban Meyer had two prized quarterbacks and an excellent team in most other areas as well. He led this group to their second national championship in 10 years in 2006. The Gators won the SEC, the national title and finished the year at 13-1.
For the next three years, Tim Tebow started for the Florida Gators. During this period, the Gators won an additional SEC title and an additional national championship.
Tebow was a First Tteam All-American in 2007 and 2008. He was Second Team All-American in 2009. He was First Team All SEC 2007, 2008 and 2009.
During Tebow's time at Florida, the Gators won a total of 48 games, while losing only seven. He also won other awards, way too numerous to list here.
Tim Tebow is arguably the best college quarterback to have ever played the game—he was that good.
Jealousy of Florida's accomplishments with Tim Tebow at quarterback is definitely one of the reasons why the rest of America loves to hate the Florida Gators.
If I were Urban Meyer, I would never have been far from Tim Tebow, either.
Give Meyer a lot of credit for Tebow. He made sure he came to Florida. He kept both Tebow and Chris Leak content during the 2006 national title run season. While Leak wasn't a likely quarterback for the Meyer offense, Tebow was the prototype quarterback for it.
During Meyer's six-year stint at Florida, the Gators were the top program in college football. Even though it can be argued that there was some slippage the final 8-5 year, Meyer still managed to recruit one of the top classes in the nation that year.
Maybe the immediate and continuous success the team had under Coach Meyer is the reason America loves to hate the Florida Gators.
Victories of 59-20 over Tennessee, 35-0 over Alabama and the scores went on and on. In the early 1990s Steve Spurrier brought the "fun and gun" passing offense into the run and play defense of the SEC.
The result was an explosion of points being scored by Florida that no one in the SEC had ever witnessed before. Defensive coordinators were beside themselves trying to slow this offensive juggernaut down.
Very early on, it was looked at as it would be a passing fad. Some defensive coordinator would figure it out, and one by one the SEC teams would take their revenge on Florida for disrupting the norm.
But that never occurred.
The seasons keep coming and Florida kept scoring. So, the defenses—and offenses—had to adjust. Florida and the "fun and gun" offense changed how football was played forever in the SEC.
Maybe this has something to do with why the rest of America—especially some Vols and Tide fans love to hate the Gators.
The Smirk, the jerk, he who throws the visor. "Free shoes U" and "you can't spell Citrus without the U and the T." Or, Peyton came back to Tennessee so he could be MVP of the Citrus Bowl four straight years."
Good ol Spurrier! A Tennessee native, a Florida Heisman Trophy winner and about the biggest smart as_ of a head coach the rest of the SEC had ever seen.
I once told a friend of mine who was a Gator that I thought Spurrier was a good coach but I didn't like him. When he asked why I said, "because he rubs it in. In the SEC we don't rub it in when we win. We think about next time and we could be on the other side."
My buddy looked at me and simply said "if you were a Gator, you'd love him." I know that to be true, too.
He's the guy that got it all going. He helped Florida realize it sits on a gold mine of football talent and if used correctly, you hardly ever lose here.
For everything Florida has accomplished in football the past 22 years, Steve Spurrier has to be remembered as the guy who cranked the Ferrari up and took her for a spin. (PS—Though I didn't like him back then, I really do now. I learned to appreciate just how good at it he really is).
Maybe that's why the rest of America loves to hate the Gators. They have figured out the combination here in Florida. As long as it produces this enormous amount of athletic talent, you will never lack for a winner long here.
America loves a winner!
That's true, as long as it is their team doing the winning. Otherwise, they love to hate you.
Since the Gators program first got on a roll about 22 years ago, it has been a nice run. Eight SEC titles, three national championships, numerous double-digit winning seasons and on and on.
It's great to be a Gator!
Which is the exact reason why the rest of America loves to hate you. I guess you can start losing every year and become everyone's buddy. Or, you can just keep on winning and not give a rat's as-, er butt!
Good luck in 2012, Florida Gator Fans!