Plenty to be Thankful For

It's that time of year to celebrate with the ones you love and appreciate the things we have. As Gators, there are a lot of things to be thankful for as we head into the holiday season. Even as a disappointing football season comes to a close, there aren't many who will read on this website, and will argue against the motto, "It's great to be a Florida Gator."

When I started school at Florida in the mid-80's the real motto was "wait till next year." The school hadn't won a Southeastern Conference title in football (that they were allowed to keep) until 1991. They hadn't even made the NIT basketball tournament until my first year on campus in 1985-86.

Since then, there have been three national titles in football and two in basketball. The basketball team has been in the NCAA tournament a lot more than not in the tournament since 1985. The football team also has eight SEC titles since 1991.

"Wait till next year" is definitely over.

The success in football and basketball is just a microcosm of the athletic program at Florida. Athletics Director Jeremy Foley has spearheaded probably the nation's best athletic program if you talk about success of the different teams within that program.

In the last decade there has been a soccer championship and women's final fours in volleyball. There has been a trip to the College World Series finals for softball, Florida baseball has made it to the College World Series a few times. The men's track team is coming off of a national championship. Gymnastics is annually in the top 10. I know I am leaving a lot out, but you get the picture.

Affiliations are something else to be thankful for. Florida is part of the SEC, the reigning four time champion in the collegiate Football Bowl Subdivision and the Gators have two of them to their name.

The Gators also do it with class and within the rules. Unlike our neighbors just to the Northwest who are on probation in several sports and especially football. Florida, Foley, Meyer, and the rest of the Gator coaches and programs by all accounts run a very clean and upstanding program. You should also be thankful the home school colors aren't ketchup and mustard and that your school's most famous non-athlete alumnus isn't Richard Simmons.

Be thankful that you worked hard in school and got accepted at Florida, the alternate is the reason the other school has a big enrollment and just another reason among all those listed above that there is so much resentment.

The big game is coming up Saturday. So much pride is at stake between schools, players, coaches, and fans. Many of us will be eating Thanksgiving dinner with "the enemy." I will be one of those. They will talk a lot of "smack" and think this is the year, even though it isn't about their own accomplishments as much as it is the Gators having a disappointing season. They will talk, but they still aren't very sure.

Then, when the final seconds tick off the clock Saturday night, I expect to hear it again. It all started when they dedicated the field to Ron Zook, I mean Bobby Bowden. That little verse we have heard for the last six years on Thanksgiving weekend took over the night air.

"It's great to be a Florida Gator."

And when that happens, we will all have something else to be thankful for.
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