Season Is Bigger than the Game

For all intents and purposes the celebration could have started before the game and it did. The rivalry between Florida and Florida State was all but a dud last night as the two teams have been heading in opposite directions for quite a while now. They weren't allowed to celebrate or look ahead until after the game, but once it was over, the Gator players did just that.

The score was 24-0 at half and Aaron Hernandez figured he might as well celebrate after his long touchdown catch and run. So, he heaved the ball into the stands and promptly netted a 15-yard penalty. Lucky for him, FSU turned the ball over a play later from inside Florida territory.

By the end of the game, the third string defense was on the field and Florida State was actually able to punch it into the end zone. Still, the older Gators were ready to celebrate.

Fifteen minutes after the game, with more fans still in the stadium than the Noles last home game, several Gator players went to the middle of the field to celebrate while Tim Tebow did his normal victory lap around the stadium. Brandon Spikes, Ahmad Black, Major Wright, and Joe Haden were in a group that went to the middle of the field and made make believe snow angels on the big "F".

Haden loved the celebration and wanted to make sure he did enough of it. Just in case. The fact is, it may be Joe Haden's last home game as well as he may opt to enter the NFL draft in April. Haden made sure he did it in style.

"I will think about that after the SEC game," Haden said about the tough decision on whether to go pro or not. "I was trying to make sure I had as much fun as I could just in case it was my last game. I had a hell of a good time."

He also enjoyed Tim Tebow celebrating with his victory lap around the stadium where he thanks all the fans for coming out to the game. "Party Like a Rock Star" was blaring on the loud speaker as Tebow made it around and Haden couldn't help but smile and take in the moment for the face of this Gator team.

"I was so happy for him," Haden said. "We still respect the other seniors, but Tebow is one of the best college football players to ever play the game, so you have to give him his dues. All the credit he gets, I don't think it is enough. All he does for the team and for everyone, he is way more than just a football player. I was real happy for him."

Haden was amazed at all the flash bulbs that went off during Tebow's last drive of the game. It was pretty impressive how many fans wanted to get a last picture of one of their favorite players.

"I was trying to figure out if they were doing it because it was Tebow's last drive," Haden said.

For Haden, the day started out great with the new Gator uniforms. Many older fans didn't care for the new gear, but according to Haden, the team loved them.

"I just felt like we looked so sweet," he said. "That was one thing I couldn't wait for. I think it was the sweetest jersey I ever wore. I don't know if they were any lighter, but we looked good."

The Gators want to look good on the field twice more this season. They close with the SEC Championship game on Saturday and if they win that, will play for the BCS Championship in Pasadena, California in January.

It has been a tough three weeks as the Gators clinched the SEC Eastern Division faster than any team in the short history of the split league.

"We didn't really care who we faced, we just wanted to make sure we got there first during the season," Haden said. "Once we knew we were in the SEC Championship of course it is hard to not look past these other games."

They got through them and now they can talk about and prepare for Alabama, their opponent in the SEC game. Haden knows they have a tall task on Saturday.

"We already knew who we were going to play and after watching them I think they are the second best team in the country after us," he said. "I like the way they play. They play hard on defense, they run well, and Julio Jones is really good. It's going to be a really good game."

No matter how much this team tried to concentrate on the task at hand every week, the Crimson Tide was also on their mind.

"The coaches haven't been able to talk about them, so now they have something off their backs," he said. "Of course we've been watching them every time we can. When we were playing, we had them on in the locker room so we can watch them play."

It is going to be a pretty even match up. Both teams come in as run first offenses with big time defenses that are great against the run or the pass. Haden still believes his team is the better of the two.

"We feel like we have been the best defense since my sophomore year," he said. "We have been doing it week in and week out. It is going to be two great defenses."


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