6/27/11 – Gator Success

It was the late Bear Bryant who once half-jokingly called the Florida Gators a bunch of surfers and suggested the rest of the SEC should not be critical of the Orange and Blue. It had to do with the old “let sleeping dogs lie” cliché. Bryant was talking about the Gator football team, which spent most of the 20th century as the biggest underachievers in college sports. He could have been talking about the entire athletic program.

Bear knew what he was talking about. We all know how Steve Spurrier arrived back in Gainesville on New Year’s Eve 1989 and woke up the football program and, in many ways, the entire athletic program.

As we fast forward to 2011 few programs can touch, much less rival, the Gators’ overall athletic success. They have piled up SEC titles in nearly every sport and won national titles in several others, including football and basketball. Now Gators are playing for the national baseball championship.

Both men and women sports excel at Florida. Both so-called major and so-called minor sports excel. One thing is clear: Major athletic success is now the norm in Gainesville. The surfers are wide awake.

 

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