VETTEL: Nothing Like The First Time

No I'm not talking about that first time, I was alone then. No, I'm talking about the first time I saw the Florida Gators in the Final Four. It was an amazing moment, and for those of you who are about to experience it for the first time, you'll never forget it.

For me, it was Charlotte 1994 and it wasn't on game day, but the day before. I walked into the Charlotte Coliseum with the Gator Basketball team and looked up to the ceiling and saw the four gigantic banners hanging from the rafters. I saw "Arizona", "Arkansas", "Duke", and "FLORIDA". That was the moment I realized that it was real. That scene at the airport five days earlier was real. That send off pep rally at the O'Connell Center was real. I was about to see my alma mater play in the Final Four. For real!

For you the everlasting moment might not be stepping into the RCA Dome for Friday's open practice for Saturday's semi-finals. It might instead have been being in Minneapolis or perhaps at the airport early Monday morning. But if you have any chance to go to Indy, do it.

You will soon forget the absurd amount of money you spent for a weekend in the happening town of Indianapolis. You will soon forget about sharing a room with eight others or driving all night because you had to get back to class or work. You will soon forget about sitting high up in a football stadium trying to watch a basketball game and eventually accepting the fact that the jumbotron screen is offering a better view of the action.

But you will never forget your first Final Four.

And if you've been there before, you'll never forgive yourself for missing the Gators first national championship.

More Proof March Madness is the Best

Could Urban Meyer's Utah team have beaten anyone in the nation in 2004? We will never know. Would Brigham Young have won the title in '84 if they had to play Florida or Washington? Doubtful, but it's just a guess.

College football refuses to tear down the worst system known to "competitive" athletics so there will be no Cinderella stories on the gridiron. Yet the same people who block a football playoff are the ones who cherish this event as perhaps the best in all sports.

And it is certainly that. These three weeks are the best of what competitive athletics have to offer. You get David versus Goliath type confrontations. You get traditional powers going head to head. You see long time coaches trying for that elusive first title and you get magic game-ending moments that last for ages. You even get to learn who George Mason was and why he deserves to have a school named after him. You get odd coincidences like two Providence College grads from different eras coaching head-to-head on the biggest stage the sport has to offer.

In college football you get one game between two schools in power conferences and 18 or so other comparatively meaningless exhibitions.

It's funny that ESPN has three million entries in its Final Four contest and only four got the correct quartet, yet the network isn't telling us who they are. I suspect it's because the four correct entries are from some computer geniuses who figured out how to enter all 69,632 possibilities.

Donovan's Boys Not Only Gators in Final Four

The co-Presidents of the Palm Beach County Gator Club are engaged to be married. Catherine Bennett and Jason West are also semi-finalists in an ESPN Radio contest called "Marriage Madness". On-line voters will determine which of four couples will eventually win the ultimate sports wedding at ESPN studios.

Catherine and Jason met after a football game two and a half years ago and have been inseparable ever since. Catherine is a breast cancer survivor and the two of them are working to raise money for breast cancer research, awareness and treatment. They have also helped raise money to rebuild Danny Wuerffel's Desire Street Ministries.

They seem like special people and special Gators. So go on line and help them win a special wedding by going here.

If they win, I sure hope they don't have Carl Lewis there to sing "Oh Promise Me".


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