VETTEL: Saluting Two Champions

Everyone started calling Gainesville "Title Town" after the run of national titles in men's basketball and football that was unprecedented in the history of college sports. While that moniker belonged to Green Bay, Wisconsin, the cheese heads haven't won a title in a while so borrowing it seemed appropriate.

But it's important to remember that Gainesville has been the home of champions for a long, long time. While most Gator fans are focused on whether or not the football team can return to Atlanta, two other Florida teams have once again claimed SEC Championships. While they operate somewhat below the radar, it's time to give them their due.

Florida Soccer --- Becky Burleigh's team was struggling at the end of September with 4-4-2 overall record and an 0-2 start in the SEC. The Gators had gone four games without a win and couldn't put the ball in the back of the net. Florida's dream of defending its SEC Title and competing for a second NCAA crown seemed more fantasy that reality.

But then came October, and Florida went from struggling to superb. The Gators won all seven games by a combined score of 20-1. they put the ball in the net and posted six shutouts.

The run continued in November with the Gators earning two regular season wins to claim the SEC Title and two more to reach Sunday's SEC Tournament Final. For Burleigh it's her eighth conference title and sets the Gators up well heading into NCAA Tournament play. It's one of the best turnarounds I have ever seen a team have.

Florida Volleyball --- While Becky Burleigh's eight conference titles are impressive, Mary Wise's 17 straight SEC Championships is just mind boggling. Florida's dominance mirrors that of Arkansas in Cross Country and is one of the most impressive runs the country has ever seen. The Gators were expected to win it this year with a senior dominated team led by SEC Player of the Year Angie McGinnis. But as Billy Donovan will tell you, it's not easy to repeat when everyone expects you to.

In 17 years Mary Wise has put together some amazing numbers as the Gator head coach, but one stands out above all others to me. Sunday, Wise and her team will go after her 250th SEC regular season victory… against SIX losses. That's right, six losses in 255 matches heading into Lexington. That's just flat out ridiculous.

So go ahead and spend the day trying to figure out the combinations for Atlanta and bowl possibilities for Urban Meyer's team. And take a few minutes to digest the Gator Basketball team's potential as they get ready for their second game.

But don't forget to appreciate two of the finest programs on the UF campus and the superb coaches and student-athletes who make it happen. Title Town indeed.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

Fightin Gators Top Stories