College World Series 2011: Florida Gators Are Two Wins Away from Winning It ALL
Two more wins. That's all we need. Two more wins.
Yes I know. Two more wins and we win the College World Series, and South Carolina is in the same boat.
I'm talking about something bigger here.
Two more wins and Florida will have won them all.
"The Big Three" college sports championships will all be in the trophy case—and all within the last five years.
Florida will have won the BCS Football Championship twice, the NCAA Tournament twice, and the College World Series, all since April of 2006!
Only two schools, Michigan and Ohio State, have won all three, EVER! Michigan hasn't won the College World Series since 1962. Their last basketball title was in 1988. Ohio State hasn't won the CWS since 1966. They have not won the NCAA Tournament since 1960.
As a fan of a college, you have three things you'd like to see your favorite school win just once before you die. Florida is two baseball games away from doing it.
Two more wins and we can all die in peace.
Considering where Florida came from, that is pretty remarkable.
Florida's athletic program was the butt of jokes for decades.Gator fans in my father's and grandfather's generations knew nothing but losing. All they wanted was one SEC football championship, just ONE and they could die happy.
It took the Gators 52 seasons to win their first SEC title. It was 49 before they won their first basketball title. Of course, nobody cared about that. Most probably didn't realize we had a baseball team.
Then along came ESPN. They televised this thing called the College World Series.
That's interesting. And look who's in it—Florida State and Miami. Well, isn't that just great? Miami wins it. Florida State is always in it. Where's Florida? Who knows?
In 1988 Florida makes its first appearance. So now we have another thing we'd like to someday win. And since we had just made our first NCAA basketball tournament appearance in 1987 and still had not even won an SEC football title, baseball might be the one we have a shot at.
The Gators made it back in 1991, again coming up short.
Later that fall, Steve Spurrier's Gators won the SEC Championship. The first one in school history that will actually count—no probation, no stripping of the title.
Then in 1992 they won the SEC East in the first year of the two-division format. Then each of the next four years Florida won the SEC Championship. In 1996, they won the National Championship!
A day Florida fans had not even dared to dream of had finally come.
Meanwhile something weird was going on.
Florida went to the NCAA Final Four in 1994.
What? How did that happen?
A couple of year later though, head coach Lon Kruger left for the NBA.
Well, that's that right.
A young coach was hired named Billy Donovan. He was landing some big recruits. Then in 1999 he took the Gators to the Sweet 16. In 2000 he took them all the way to the title game. So now there's another sport we have a legit shot at winning someday.
The baseball team went back to the College World Series in 1996 and 1998. Still no trophy.
Then in 2005 they went back again. This time, however, they made a run. They got all the way to the finals. But there they ran into a red-hot Texas team and were swept.
But still, the best team in Gator history had made a memorable run. Maybe someday we can win this thing?
After the 2005 run the the final series, something happened that nobody would have ever dreamed of.
Florida's basketball team started the season unranked and went on to win the NCAA Tournament. Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Corey Brewer and company were rock stars on campus just as Danny Weurffel and the guys had been in 1996.
Then later that year, guess what: The football team matched them with a National Title of its own! Chris Leak, Tim Tebow, and the boys were rock stars too.
Florida had become the first school to ever win football and basketball in the same year! Who's laughing now?
And it didn't stop there. The basketball team went back-to-back in 2007. Tim Tebow won the Heisman that year too. And in 2008 he led the Gators to another BCS Championship!
So, now what's left?
We still need the College World Series.
In 2010 the Gators got back, but went 0-2. But this year has been a magical run. And it comes down to a best-two-of-three against SEC East rival, South Carolina, the defending champs.
Florida went to Columbia in '10 and beat the Gamecocks two of three with the regular season SEC title on the line.
This series is slightly larger.
If Florida can win this series, we will have done it all. Unless at some point we take up hockey.
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