Lots To Be Thankful For

This Thanksgiving brings Gator fans many things to be thankful for, many more than anyone expected at the start of this season. Despite looking like a program on the brink in the first half of the season, Florida is now poised to extend its nation-long streak of twelve consecutive nine-win seasons to thirteen and possibly win ten games, not bad for a team that looked like it would hover around .500 all season after the LSU debacle.

Now comes the biggest weekend of them all for Florida fans, and an opportunity for Ron Zook to cement his status as the leader of this program. If you're scoring at home, a victory over Florida State would give Zook wins over all three of Florida's most hated rivals: Tennessee, Georgia, and the most hated of them all, those dad gum Seminoles. If the prospect of smacking all of your most hated rivals in the year that they were all supposed to pound on the sans Spurrier Gators isn't something to be thankful for, I don't know what is.

However, if that's not enough for you, if you need something else to make your holiday a happy one, then there may be another way. Yes, you can take part in the most American of pastimes, reveling in the misfortune of those you hate. I dare any Gator fan not to laugh at Tennessee's 7-4 record, at their return to their role as Florida's own personal redheaded stepchild, or just at Casey Clausen's haircut. How can you not burst out laughing at the fact that Alabama's best team in years can't even go to a bowl, or the fact that their best coach in years is rumored to be headed to Texas A&M. All of this on top of the fact that probation's most devastating effects are about two seasons away. Let's not forget about Georgia. Sure, they've won ten games and are headed to Atlanta to play for the SEC title. But it is the one loss they suffered to the Gators that will keep them out of the Fiesta Bowl.

And now to those aforementioned Seminoles. In a year that was supposed to mark the return to dominance of one college football program and the imminent demise of the other, the prognosticators seem to have gotten the two programs mixed up. While 8-3 can hardly be characterized as dominance on the Gators part, a brief, simple comparison of UF and FSU's respective situations can shed light on the different directions the two programs seem to be headed in.

For example, UF: riding a four-game winning streak into Doak Campbell stadium and playing its best football of the season; FSU: coming off of a loss to NC State in which it appeared as though the 'Noles were ready to go home midway through the third quarter. UF: has currently zero quarterbacks under criminal investigation by local police; FSU: has just one. UF: is in the midst of replacing a legend and the face of its program; FSU: is in the midst of trying to find a discrete way of telling a legend and the face of its program that he needs replacing.

For that matter, all of the Bowden's are giving Gator fans a reason to celebrate the holidays. Bobby's in the process of tearing down the program he built into a national power; Tommy is most likely on his last legs at Clemson; Jeff is the greatest example of the dangers of nepotism in college football; and Terry's last game as a collegiate coach is still a loss to the Visored One.

So, you see if you just look at the big picture there's plenty to be thankful for this year if you just look hard enough. While many Gator fans watching Steve Spurrier signal in plays to Danny Wuerffel from the Redskins sideline will long for the good old days, it's much more likely that it's Spurrier and Wuerffel who are longing for the good old days at Florida. After all, why would any Gator be sad now? You've got Bowden's struggling, 'Bama on probation and Tennessee with four losses. Forget mourning, you should be partying. Who knows how long this utopia will last?

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