Last Gator Win Over Miami a Personal Memory

For most of the members of the Gator football team, Florida has never beaten the Miami Hurricanes in their lifetime. In fact just five guys were alive when the Gators beat Miami 35-23 on September 7, 1985.

That elite group includes Jason Watkins, Tate Casey, Cornelius Ingram, Butch Rowley and Curtis Carr. Chances are none of them remember much about it since the oldest of the bunch was about four months old.

I was there that Saturday evening at the Orange Bowl, but the Gators' victory was not what I remember most about that night.

Oh don't get me wrong, it was a helluva win for the Gators. It was the opening game of the first full season with Galen Hall as the head coach and continued the positive momentum from the scandal-plagued 1984 campaign that featured NCAA probation and a coaching change. What positive momentum? Well the '84 season ended with nine straight wins, the school's first SEC Title with eight of the wins coming with Hall as the interim head man. It's what happened shortly after the game that I'll never forget.

Who's About to be a Daddy?

At the time my wife, Quenta and I were expecting our first child at any minute. In fact her due date was the day after the game. Still we debated whether or not I should go cover the game or not. At the time I was the sideline and locker room reporter for the Gator Radio Network. I was given permission to miss the trip to South Florida, but at my wife's insistence with her parents in town to assist I went to work.

Normally I was with the part of the radio crew that traveled separately to road games. We left for Miami at our normal time, but arrangements were made through the Gators to let me fly back with the team to minimize my time on the road. Still, I was a bit of a basket case and had trouble concentrating on the game. Keep in mind, for you younger readers there were very few cell phones in 1985 and I sure didn't have one.

Well the Gators won and I prepared for my post-game interview with Coach Hall. If you don't know Galen he's the nicest man to coach the Gators in my lifetime. He is also a pretty straightforward guy who took interviews seriously since he was nervous about how he would come off due to a stuttering problem. Well Galen walks up to me while I'm live on the air and the conversation went something like this:

"Coach, congratulations on a big win and a great start to the season"

"Thanks Larry, but Quenta's on the phone for you in the locker room"

I gasped and stammered out something before Hall began chuckling. He got me, and he got me good. I didn't even know he was aware of my situation.

We got through the interview, eventually got back to Gainesville where it took another 17 days before Dana Catherine Vettel made her appearance. She's now a soon-to-be 23-year-old graduate student at Duke. Florida's never beaten Miami in her lifetime either.

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


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