The Rise Of The Gator

Robert BoykinContributor IJuly 28, 2009

MIAMI - JANUARY 08:  Head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators celebrates with the National Championship trophy after their 24-14 win against the Oklahoma Sooners during the FedEx BCS National Championship game at Dolphin Stadium on January 8, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

When speaking of college football in the past couple years, the University of Florida Gators have surpassed the Southern California Trojans as top dog, by winning two out of three of the last BCS National Championships.  If you think back to five years ago, not one person, who anyone would consider sane, would ever think that any team could de-throne the mighty Trojans as king of the college grid iron.  Not only were they winning National Championships like they were going out of style, but their second stringers could have been starting at any other PAC-10 school in the country.   They were, hands down, the top college football program in the country, no questions asked.

Then, one day, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley struck gold by hiring a man named Urban Meyer.  Almost instantly, Meyer had the tides turning as to who was the almighty power-house of college football.  Probably the most important thing that happened to Meyer and the Gator Nation was the signing of highly touted recruit Tim Tebow.  Before Meyer and offensive coordinator Dan Mullen, who recently left Gainesville for the head coaching position at Mississippi State, landed Tebow, the two were talking while waiting for their plane to take off on another recruiting visit.  The conversation is said to have gone something like this, " You know Urban, if we don't land Tebow it will set the Florida program back ten years."  At this point, Mullen looks like Nostradamus.  Well, maybe not that insightful but it's pretty amazing what he saw in Tebow.  In just three short years, Tebow has two BCS Championship rings, a Heisman trophy, two ESPY's for Top Male College Athlete, plus a basement full of other awards he has been stock piling since he stepped foot on campus in Gainesville.  Along with Tebow came another highly recruited player in Percy Harvin.  In merely three years Meyer, Tebow and Harvin transformed the college football landscape, thrusting Florida past USC as the number one program.

The scary part is that they are no where near being finished.  Although Harvin has departed for the NFL, Tebow and Meyer are the heavy favorites to repeat as BCS Champions and the way Meyer has been taking the recruiting trail by storm, there is plenty more to come from the Gator Nation.  They seem to have already replaced the "irreplaceable" Harvin with a true freshman named Andre Debose.  Debose is basically the spitting image of Harvin, he can play receiver, running back, and you can even snap the ball directly to him, letting him perform his magic from step one.  Is this the making of a regime that will mirror the success that Bear Bryant and the Alabama Crimson Tide had for nearly 25 years?  Urban Meyer and the die hard Gator Nation sure hope so and looking at what is to come it's hard not to think they will.  Yes, the departure of Tebow after this season will hurt,  but Jon Brantley, Tebow's successor, is poised to step in right where Tebow will leave off.  Plus, who knows what insane athlete Meyer will land in this year's recruiting class to be the next great Gator quarterback following in Spurrier, Wuerffel, Leak and Tebow's footsteps.  It's not certain what will happen once Tebow departs, but all signs point to maybe just a slight drop off for a very short period of time, maybe just a couple game's for Brantley to adjust to the starter role.  One thing is for certain though, the Florida Gators have over taken the Southern California Trojans as the number one college football program and it doesn't look like Meyer and Co. are going anywhere anytime soon.