Book Review: Historic Photos of University of Florida Football

Josh Sawyers@GatorholicsContributor IAugust 25, 2009

From Humble Beginnings To The Top Of The College Football Mountain.

Dr. Kevin McCarthy’s Historic Photos of University of Florida Football takes Gators’ fans on a visual history of the Florida Gators Football program. This book is a must have for any Gators fan and should be displayed proudly on your coffee table. With the success of the Gators Football program in the last few years, there are lots of new fans that may not be aware of Ray Graves, Steve Spurrier the player, and the early years of the program.

Historic Photos of University of Florida Football
starts out by taking the reader on a journey back to the program’s modest beginnings. The University of Florida official records have the football program starting in 1906, but Dr. McCarthy was able to dig up photos of the building blocks of Gators football dating back to 1902.

It is refreshing to see those early photos from the turn of the 19th century when the players battled on the fields with little more than a leather helmet and shoulder pads smaller than any woman had on in the 1980’s. Those early teams were not the most dominant of the era, but they did lay the foundation for Gators Football.

The 1930’s ushered in a new era for the Gators when University President John Tigert III set a priority to build Florida Field. Any fan today has the image of “The Swamp” ingrained in his or her mind, but it is shocking to see that home started out as a field the size of most high school stadiums these days.

Also during this time, the Gators took their game on the road to play colleges in the Northeastern part of the US. We take for granted the ease of travel today, but back then each of these road games was an adventure and McCarthy captures some of these early trips.

After World War II, the reader sees the team photos start to grow, both in the number of the players and the size of the players who suited up as Florida Gator. McCarthy does a great job of capturing the accelerated change of the game. These photos of the post WWII era just feel like the players are moving faster. This era also began a time known for its cheesy staged photos. It was very popular to have a Gator on a leash, and one of the best staged photos is on page 120 with Steve Spurrier on the shoulders of Coach Ray Graves and another unnamed coach.

Its safe to say that a book on the Gators reviewed by a Gator fan is going to get rave reviews, but I would love to see some more of the post 1996 Gators in the book. All Gators fans need to have the three years of the Zook regime captured in print. What better way to to keep us humble with this great run of success than to remind us of the tough times in the recent past.

Also, I feel is hard to consider a complete history of the Gators without the shot of Chris Leak holding the Waterford Crystal football in his hands, or any photo of Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow complete.

Historic Photos of University of Florida Football is now on sale and is available on Amazon. If you have a Gator fan on your Christmas list, then you are already finished shopping for him or her.

If you’ve just jumped on the Gators bandwagon after BCS Championship number one or two, then this is a must read to show you the history of Gators football before Tim Tebow. In fact, I’ve been a Gators fan as long as I can remember and still learned a good deal about Gators Football from this book.

Bonus: Can you name the player on the cover of the book?

The inside scoopI did not pay for this book and was asked to review it by the its publisher. The book was sent to me with no strings attached, and I was free to give my honest opinion of the book.

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