Long Day Ends With Brawl

Tempers flare as the rivalry reignites....

If you thought the bitterness between Florida and Florida State had recently simmered to anything less than a dull boil, this image should help clear a few things up.

Picture Jeremy Foley, Florida's athletic director, swirling through the melee at midfield pushing players off of one another. Picture helmets flying, while a Gators' graduate assistant lays face down after being swatted in the head to the ground.

It didn't last long, and the result was nothing but flaring tempers following the 38-34 loss to Florida State. But Saturday's post-game fight at Florida Field proved something more.

The bitterness, no doubt, is back.

"That was disrespectful," linebacker Channing Crowder said. "It was really just childish. Next year, you never know."

Crowder said he ran in between the pack of Seminoles as they stomped on the orange "F" on the 50-yard line with the intention of shaking hands.

"I thought it was over, but then the rest of the teams came in, too," Crowder said. "Everyone had high emotions running, and I think there was some inadvertent shoving as a result of everyone getting close. That's when the fight broke out."

Offensive guard Shannon Snell said he quickly left the area once he saw police officers pull out cans of pepper spray, although none was used.

Coach Ron Zook said he will take proper disciplinary action if it turns out any Gators were involved in the fight's progression.

"I don't have any idea what did happen out there," said Zook, who stood about 10 feet from the fight in a look of disgust with his arms crossed. "But if our guys were involved, we'll get it straightened out."

Snell said he thought the controversial officiating caused the Gators tempers to flare, while Florida State's emotional win turned up their emotions.

"We were already hot about what happened in the game," Snell said. "Some guys just got involved in it. Had they not jumped on the ‘F', I don't think there would have been a fight on the field."

On Florida State's side, defensive tackle Darnell Dockett pointed the finger at the Gators, claiming they acted as a result of defeat.

"I guess they couldn't handle the loss," he said. "Everybody says Florida State has no class, but they couldn't take a loss like that. They wanted to stop us from celebrating." Either way, the events of Saturday's post-game helped several of Florida's freshmen realize exactly why they'd heard so much hype about the inter-state rivalry.

"After that fight, we just want to go out there and beat them next year," Caldwell said. "This is just going to make it even more exciting."

So with the bitterness back, the scenes of Saturday proved this rivalry isn't anywhere near dying down. Seminoles center David Castillo held onto a Gator head "with his life depending on it," at midfield. And Florida State linebacker Kendyll Pope stood off on his own, digging up a chunk of soil from what he now considered his field.

A security guard attempted to take the soil from Pope's possession, but he wouldn't get it. And as Snell said after the game, maybe he deserved it.

"They won, so I guess they can take part of the field with them," Snell said. "Even though they paid off the refs." ###

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