The Florida Gators
became the first program to hold football and
men's basketball titles at the same time Monday
night with a 41-14 victory over top-ranked Ohio
|The basketball team won its
first championship in April, beating UCLA
73-57 in Indianapolis. The football team claimed
its second title – the Gators also won
in 1996 – with similar ease.
do I compare them? Both have confetti landing
on my head,” athletic director Jeremy
Foley said. “I couldn't believe it in
April; I can't believe it now. I can't believe
I can talk about it without jinxing us. Obviously,
things had to break our way to even get here.”
The Gators needed to beat Arkansas in the Southeastern
Conference championship game and have Southern
California lose to UCLA to get to Glendale.
They made the rest look easy, using stifling
defense and creative offense to upend the Buckeyes
in the BCS championship game.
Much like when Tiger Woods held all four golf
majors – he didn't win all of them in the
same year, so it was dubbed the “Tiger Slam”
– Florida may have an asterisk next to its
Nonetheless, only six Division I schools –
including Florida and Ohio State – have
won championships in the NCAA's two marquee sports.
But none of those had come closer than eight years
apart – until now. The others are Maryland,
Michigan, Michigan State and Syracuse.
“That's why we're the
best,” said Mike Peterson, a former
Gators linebacker and current Jacksonville
Jaguars star. “I'm not going to apologize
for us being good anymore.”
Florida players and coaches said they were
barraged by wishes from friends, family
and fans who wanted them to match what the
basketball team did last year.
Coach Urban Meyer heard the same stuff.
“A couple thousand times,” he said.
“I say, 'Sure, let's go do it.'”
Although Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr. returned the
opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, the
Gators responded with five scores on their first
Three different players lined up at quarterback,
freshman Percy Harvin made Ohio State defenders
looks slow, and defensive ends Derrick Harvey
and Jarvis Moss dominated their matchups and put
constant pressure on Heisman Trophy winner Troy
Smith. Heck, even Chris Hetland made two field
goals after missing nine of 13 this season.
Maybe it was “the year of the Gators,”
as South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier predicted
after Moss blocked a game-winning field goal attempt
to stave off defeat in Gainesville in November.
“It's a great accomplishment to win both,”
defensive tackle Clint McMillan said. “It's
going to make it just crazy on campus.”
The first person to put the pressure on the football
team was Florida basketball star Joakim Noah.
As he held up the national championship trophy
during the team's return reception in Gainesville
the day after winning it all, Noah shouted to
a large crowd: “I love you! Let's do it
in football now!”
Meyer remembers that moment well.
“I still remember the day that Noah said,
'Now it's football's turn,'” Meyer said
recently. “I'll never forget that. (I said)
OK, man, I'm with you. Let's go.'”
Meyer later had basketball coach Billy Donovan
address the football team. Donovan downplayed
his remarks Friday before the game. But players
never forgot what he said about the keys to winning.
“Nothing I said has gotten them to where
they are,” Donovan said earlier Monday.
“Back in August, what I think Urban was
trying to do was just put some things into the
team's head. Believe me, I'll be the first one
to tell you that I don't have anything figured
out. The ingredients to winning don't change.
It's the same. What change are the people.
“People change. The focus changes. People's
commitments change. Their accountabilities change.
But the ingredients to win are the same ingredients
now as they were 50 years ago. ... I think what
Urban wanted from me coming in was to probably
reinforce things he had already said. And believe
me, I did not intend for it to be asked about
so much, because I had only said what was already
known and what had already been said.”
Either way, it seemingly worked – and now
the Gators have duel championships.
“We're one of the elite programs in the
nation,” former Florida running back Terry
Added former Florida quarterback Shane Matthews:
“It just puts pressure on the other sports
now. But I wouldn't be surprised if we won another
basketball title in a few months.”