VETTEL: Gator Nation - Get your swagger back

It's been four years without an SEC Title or even a trip to the Conference Championship Game. It's been three years of up-and-down performances. Great wins followed by dismal losses. Great performances spoiled by late game failures or strategic mistakes. The toughest place to win in America has become almost as hospitable as the Magic Kingdom.

But it's over and the page has officially been turned.

When the nation's hottest young coaching star rejects Notre Dame to come to your school, you should be proud and happy… and excited. Urban Meyer appears to be the total package. Bob Davie, who Meyer worked for at Notre Dame, has called him a great recruiter. His teams have won 38 of 46 games in four years, even though two of those seasons he was a new guy taking over a team with a losing record. Meyer has a reputation for being demanding of his assistant coaches but also giving them the freedom to do their jobs. He appears to be media savvy and comes off in interviews as a man in command of his situation who sees the big picture and little picture with equal clarity.

The Meyer hiring was confirmed almost three weeks to the day Gator Country first reported (in this very column) that signs were pointing very strongly towards a Meyer/Florida union. Yeah, UF inquired to see if Bob Stoops might be interested this time and Notre Dame's firing of Tyrone Willingham threw a potential monkey wrench into the process. But when all was said and done, what we told you was likely to happen, happened.

BCS Critics Have Something To Celebrate

Those of us who are committed to lobbying for a true playoff in Division-One college football had our dreams come true in 2004. Three teams from the traditional power conference of college football were able to navigate their way to the finish line with perfect records. One of the three, Auburn will be in the outside looking in when the National Championship game is played in the Orange Bowl. That doesn't even consider the candidacy of fellow unbeatens Utah and Boise State.

I have no clue who I would leave out if given the power to choose from among Southern Cal, Oklahoma and Auburn. I believe S.C. has the most explosive offense, Oklahoma has the greatest run/pass balance and Auburn is the most complete team in every phase of the game. Auburn's running attack would be a bear for either Oklahoma or Southern Cal to counter and I would expect any game from among this trio to be high scoring.

Still, for the first time in this BCS era, we have the very real possibility that a major school from a major conference could run the table and not get even a share of the National Title. That is an outrage because it could never happen in any other sport. That fact alone further discredits the hypocrites who shove this system with its annual "tweaks" right down the throats of college football fans. And they do it with the eager acquiescence of money grubbing major conference commissioners who continue to sell out their integrity for big bucks.

Time To Vote For the Heisman

For almost 20 years it has been my pleasure to vote on what I consider to be the number one award in all of sports, the Heisman Trophy. Even though there are about 900 or so "electors" it is still humbling, and really cool to be a member of that group. This year was one of the toughest ever with a number of legit candidates for the three spots on the ballot.

I considered eight people for my Heisman vote this year; Quarterbacks Matt Leinart, Jason White, Alex Smith and Aaron Rogers; Running backs Adrian Peterson and Reggie Bush; Receiver Braylin Edwards and linebacker Derrick Johnson from Texas. I always try to have non-traditional candidates on my ballot because I believe lineman, linebackers, receivers and defensive backs deserve consideration.

It's hard to argue against any of the eight so instead I'll just let you guys know who I chose and why.

Third place, Derrick Johnson, linebacker, Texas. Johnson is a turnover machine and the most disruptive defensive player in the nation. He might be the only defensive player out there whom teams have to scheme against.

Second Place, Alex Smith, quarterback, Utah. Urban Meyer's triggerman has posted amazing numbers while leading the unheralded Utes into the Fiesta Bowl. Over three thousand combined yards, 28 touchdown passes with just four interceptions and ten rushing TD's are too much to overlook.

Heisman Winner, Matt Leinart, QB, Southern Cal. He didn't have a great season finale', but he didn't need one. Leinart is 24-and-1 as a starter and his flawless leadership is the single biggest factor in USC having a chance at another national title.

Apologies to Bob Stoops for rankings his guys number four and number five, but having them on the same team made their accomplishments less impressive individually.

Besides, I voted for White last year.

Gator Hoops Surprised At Home

The Florida Basketball team learned some painful lessons Saturday when Miami came into the O'Connell Center and posted a 72-65 win. Florida learned it will struggle with three-guard attacks when teams have excellent speed. The Gators learned that standing still is no way to get open against man OR zone defense. The Gators may have learned that they get their best offense when Taurean Green and Anthony Roberson are on the floor at the same time. That could eventually mean less playing time for Corey Brewer who is currently fourth on the team at 21.8 minutes/game.

It was somewhat surprising to see Florida's bench, which entered the game averaging 90 minutes and almost 35 points per game play just 62 minutes and score just 7 in the game. Florida won't improve on last year's results without consistent good play off the bench.


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