Saluting Coaches For 200 SEC Titles

Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley has gotten a great deal of praise for the successes of Gator programs on his watch, and deservedly so. Foley had a hand in selecting every coach on the UF campus and more than half of Florida's 200 SEC team championships have come during his tenure. Foley's program is a model for programs around the country and he is viewed as one of the tops in his field.

But Jeremy would be the first to deflect credit for the 200 titles to the coaches and student athletes who competed for and won those trophies. Florida's success is virtually across the board with every program but one having claimed a conference crown.

(Lacrosse winning the ALC does not count in the tabulation, though its win over Vandy, the only other SEC school with a team should make them SEC Champs, right?)

I thought we should take a minute and review the coaches who delivered the largest number of SEC crowns to UF. It's a pretty impressive list.

Mary Wise, 19 ---- Wise's dominance of the SEC is one of the most amazing things I've seen in my tenure covering the Gators. Keep in mind those 19 titles came in just 20 seasons. Wise has not been able to win it all, but seven trips to the Final Four is a tremendous accomplishment. And her SEC mark may last a long, long time.

Randy Reese, 15 ---- Betcha didn't expect to see him up here, but the long time mentor of Florida's swim program had a remarkable career with the Gators. Reese led the Florida women to 8 SEC titles and won 7 more with the guys. He guided each program to a pair of National Championships as well. When people talk about the best coaches ever at UF his name rarely comes up, but it should.

Andy Brandi, 14 ---- Brandi totally dominated Women's Tennis during his tenure at UF. His teams usually disposed of conference competition the way you and I would swat a bug. Brandi won multiple national titles and brought in perhaps the best singes player in NCAA history in Lisa Raymond.

Becky Burleigh, 11 ---- If there's anyone who could be a threat to Wise at the top of this list it would be the perpetually young founder of the Gator Soccer program. Of course, Wise can't be caught until she stops winning, now can she? Burleigh jumped into the job with both feet and the SEC has regretted it ever since.

Buddy Alexander, 8 ---- The 200th SEC Title for the Gators came from a guy who has made a habit of it. Alexander had won the last two SEC crowns as the coach at LSU when Bill Arnsparger and Foley convinced the native of St. Petersburg to return to his home state. Good move by all concerned. Alexander has two NCAA Titles to go with his 8 SEC rings.

Bill Harlan, 8 ---- The father of the Gator Men's Swimming program, Coach Harlan dominated the SEC in the '60s. His time came when most if not all of the competitive swimming was done outdoors and he put Florida's home weather advantage to maximum use.

Roland Thornqvist, 7 ---- Another current coach making this list, Thornqvist is refuting the theory that you shouldn't be the guy that follows the guy. He's won his seven SEC Titles in 10 years and has a tremendous team that's capable of winning it all this year and just about every other year. The Gators have won more than 100 straight at home.

Steve Spurrier, 6 ---- I know I'm taking my life in my hands putting the head ball coach down for six SEC Titles instead of seven, but that's what the record books say. Spurrier debunked every myth about Florida Football in his first two years by winning big games on the road, beating Auburn and Georgia back-to-back and winning the first official SEC title in 1991. (He also won Florida's third unofficial SEC Title in '90). His run of four straight SEC Titles ('93-'96) ranks as the top coaching accomplishment in SEC Football history.

Mimi Ryan, 6 ---- IF Bill Harlan is the father of Gator swimming, then Mimi is the mother of modern Women's athletics at the University of Florida. Ryan would have won more SEC Titles, but the league didn't sanction Women's Sports until 1982, about halfway through her Hall of Fame coaching career.

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If you take pride in the all sports success that the Gators have had over the years, take pride in the men and women in charge of these programs that make it all possible. These nine outstanding coaches brought home 94 of Florida's 200 SEC trophies, and some of them are bound to bring him more.


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