Alabama/Florida Football Rivalry


I’m an Alabama Football fan.  At some schools, they play football.  At Alabama, we are football.  I also live in Florida.  By virtue of being an Alabama fan, I am supposed to be sworn against Auburn as the mortal enemy of our football program.  However; living in Florida throughout the Tebow era has had an enormous effect on me.  After watching an “ok” team escape the impossible, scrape by when they should have lost, etc. for the years that Tim Tebow was on the field, I really learned to despise the Florida Gators.  I remember saying that Tebow was simply the glue that held the Gators together, and without him, neither the Gators, nor Urban Meyer would have been much worry to the SEC.  In 2009, at the SEC championship game in Atlanta, GA the Tim Tebow / Urban Meyer reign finally came to an end, and what a lovely day it was!

I’ll never forget the shock and awe that was received by Florida on that day.  Going into the game, the Florida Gators were favored by many in the media as the team to win the SEC championship and of course the National Championship.  The Tide had a little something to say about that.  As difficult as it was for me, I kept my mouth shut prior to the game.  I didn’t talk up the Alabama team, or try to run at the mouth about how we were going to win.  My Florida fan friends were not quite the same.  The typical Tim Tebow love was evident in my Florida Gator fan friend’s comments leading up to the start of the game.  However; just prior to the start one of our friends finally started to admit how nervous she was.  Then, after Alabama started to exert its dominance she got flat-out scared.  The supposed saviour of the Florida Gators, Tim Tebow, was being shut down by the school that he turned down when they offered him a scholarship, the Alabama Crimson Tide.  By the end of the game, the Gators had been humiliated on a national stage, their star quarterback was crying like a little bitch on the sidelines, and the Tide was one game away from their 13th National Championship.

 

Something that many fans, especially Florida fans, do not know is that immediately after this game, the head coach of Florida had to be rushed to the hospital.  The stress of being beat so convincingly by the Alabama football team caused so much anguish that he couldn’t make it without a little medical care from the emergency room.  His health problems had evidently been troubling him all season long; however the prospect of being beaten like a red-headed step child and having his golden boy cry on national TV didn’t seem to help matters.

A year later, it was time for round 2.  The Gators had a fresh new quarterback, John Brantley, who was “better than Tim Tebow”.  Hardly the case, it didn’t stop Florida fans from raving about how he was deliver against the Tide where Tebow did not.  My wife and I made it a point to travel up to Tuscaloosa for this showdown between the two teams.  We had just come off winning the National Championship the year before, literally knocking Colt McCoy out of the game.  Alabama had become such a physical team that it was not unusual to see more than one team member on the opposing team be removed from the field with a serious injury each game.  Bottom line, the competition was not measuring up.  Despite this overwhelming and obvious fact, the Gators went into Tuscaloosa full of confidence and vigor.  During the first quarter of the game, the Florida Gators did “ok”, and drove down to the goal line in an effort to put their first points on the board.  Urban Meyer in his typical fashion found his team in a 4th down situation and didn’t want to settle for a field goal, so he decided to go for it and try the Tebow-proven jump pass technique.  However; this time he put his trust in his new prodigy, Trey Burton.  Luckily for Alabama, it was read all the way and picked off in the end zone by Nicco Johnson, putting an end to the Gator drive and to the Gator’s chances of scoring a touchdown in Tuscaloosa.  From that point on, it became another humiliation and blow out.  The final score was 31-6 whereas Florida only scored on 2 field goals and left Tuscaloosa with ZERO touchdowns, for the 2nd straight time.

Additionally, the new star QB John Brantley took a nasty hit in the 3rd quarter and probably started second guessing why he was on the field in the first place.  At the end of the game, my wife and I were lucky enough to become part of one of the most exciting and fun parts of beating Florida, the Rammer Jammer!  Next, we got to see Urban Meyer hobble off the field in dismay and humiliation, thinking “where did I go wrong?”  Well, he went wrong when he thought he could beat a quality team without his super boy.

The Gators would go on to lose 4 games that season and start living up to the more realistic expectations that should be expected from a team with sub-par talent and a coach who’d always ridden on the coat-tails of one superstar player, Tim Tebow.  At the end of the season, Urban Meyer finally decided to walk away permanently and leave before losing another embarrassing game to the Alabama Crimson Tide (oh, he knew it was coming the following year).  That brought us to the 2011 season and a renewed sense of an ability to win from the Florida Gators.  Fortunately for those of us who live in reality, this was far from occurring.  In the absence of Urban Meyer, the Gators organization hired new head coach Will Mushchamp (a former Nick Saban assistant) and Charlie Weiss (to run the offense).  The Gators began their 2011 campaign with a 4-0 start against some of the easiest opponents that could possibly be put on the schedule.

This brought them to the showdown in the Swamp, on October 1st.  Again, there was a sense amongst the Florida Gator community that beating the Alabama team was not only doable, but likely.  Someone, please share the drugs they’re taking so I can feel this way too.  🙂  Anyway, the game got started a little late as the teams sorted through a couple false starts, and then Florida threw a deep pass down the line and scored a quick touchdown to shock the Tide.  Suddenly the Gators felt that they had the edge against what the media had built up as being the single best defense in college football (Alabama).  Well, let’s not sell them short simply because Florida was able to throw one decent pass.  The Tide was able to respond in short order and take the lead in no time at all.  By the end of the first half, the Tide was leading the game and had injured several Florida players.  The quarterback, John Brantley, was crushed (see below) just prior to the end of the 2nd quarter, and the Gator’s star running back, Jeff Demps was tackled by the Alabama kicker causing him to miss several games and the rest of this one.  Rainey, the Gator’s 2nd start running back and self-proclaimed “fastest man in college football” was completely shutdown and a non-factor against the punishing Alabama defense.

The Alabama offense went on a tear in the 2nd half, putting up an unprecedented 38 total points on the Gators home field.  The Gators did not score a point in the second half, resulting in a 3rd straight embarrassing loss to the Tide.  Roll Tide Bitches!  Until next time we spank the Gators…

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