All-Sports Trophy Showcases Gators' Balance

Florida's triumph in the annual SEC All-Sports rankings is a tribute to the remarkable balance in the Gator Athletic program in general and the excellence of the women's teams in particular.

Florida outdistanced Georgia and Tennessee to give UF its 16th title in 17 years. Georgia and Tennessee made it a one, two, three finish for the SEC East while LSU ended up fourth. Tennessee actually beat the Gators in the men's standings, but Florida's women dominated, giving UF the overall crown.

Women's Excellence ----- The Florida Gators won FIVE SEC Championships this year, which is sensational. The Gators started off well in the fall as usual with titles in volleyball and soccer. Then in the spring golf, tennis and softball added titles to the Gator trophy case. Every Florida squad except one finished in the top four in the SEC, giving Florida production sport after sport.

Men's Consistency ----- It was a most unusual season for the Gator men in that Florida failed to win a single SEC Championship this year. The Gators' best finishes were a pair of runner-up spots claimed in cross country and swimming and diving. However every Gator team finished in the top half of the league and all but one were in the top four.

Help on the Hardwood ----- Florida's lowest finish in both the men's and women's competition came in basketball. Billy Donovan's Gators finished sixth one year after claiming its second straight NCAA Title. On the women's side, Amanda Butler's first team ended up tied for seventh in the SEC. Both teams can be expected to improve their position next year.

Saluting Foley ----- Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley deserves a ton of credit for Florida's consistency year in and year out. Not only have the Gators dominated the All-Sports competition in the SEC, Florida is one of two schools to finish in the national top ten every year since they started keeping standings (UCLA is the other). Currently the Gators are in tenth place for this year, but substantial points are still to be earned in tennis, outdoor track, golf, baseball and softball. Florida has not won as many NCAA Titles as the boss might like, but the ability to rank highly year after year is a more significant accomplishment. Foley has consistently made excellent hires and committed substantial resources to give every team a chance to be competitive every year.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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