20 interesting facts about Florida football history
The University of Florida is one of the most successful college football programs of the modern era and has won three national championships in the last twenty years.
How well do you know the Gators? Here are 20 interesting facts about Florida football:
Spurrier never won at Florida State. The Florida-Florida State rivalry arguably reached its peak during the Spurrier vs. Bowden era where the two teams met 14 times in 12 seasons and at least one of the teams were ranked in the top ten nationally each time. Despite plenty of success against the ‘Noles, Spurrier never won in Tallahassee. The 1994 “Choke at Doak” was probably the most painful loss of the sort in which the Gators gave up a 31-3 lead in the 4th quarter to end in a 31-31 tie. Each coach since Spurrier including Ron Zook and Will Muschamp won in Tallahassee against the hated Seminoles.
Florida has appeared in ten SEC Championship Games more than any other team. The Gators appeared in the first five SEC Championship Games (faced Alabama four times and Arkansas one time). Florida is 7-3 in SEC Championship Games.
The Gators have won 8 SEC Championships. Steve Spurrier led Florida to its first official SEC Championship in 1991 (no Championship Game played), then went on to win five more before leaving Florida. Urban Meyer’s teams added two more to the tally.
Florida began the SEC’s BCS run of seven straight championships with the win over Ohio State in the 2007 BCS Championship Game. The following SEC teams won BCS Championships: Florida (2), Alabama (3), LSU (1), Auburn (1).
Will Muschamp’s win percentage as Florida head coach was worse than Ron Zook’s. Will Muschamp’s teams were 28 and 21 for a .571 win percentage. Zook’s record at Florida was 23 and 14 for a .622 win percentage.
Emmitt Smith broke the 57-year old Florida single game rushing record in his first start at running back when he rushed for 224 yards on 39 carries. It is noted that Smith left Florida a year early due to concerns about his role in incoming head coach Steve Spurrier’s offense. Interestingly, Spurrier’s first running back, Errict Rhett, went on to break Smith’s career rushing yard records under the Ball Coach.
Chris Leak remains Florida’s passing yardage record holder and has the same number of national championships as Danny Wuerrfel. Leak accumulated 11,213 passing yards in his four seasons. Wuerrfel is 2nd on the list with 10,875 yards. Is Chris Leak Florida’s most underrated player ever?
“Mr. Two Bits” – George Edmondson, Jr. – never attended the University of Florida despite leading cheers at games from 1949 until 2008. In 2005, the University named Edmondson as an honorary alumnus.
Florida first played Georgia in Jacksonville in 1915. The neutral site rivalry game became known as “the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” in the 1950s (though later abandoned in an effort to stem excessive drinking).
The “Okefenokee Oar” became the trophy awarded to the winner of the annual Florida-Georgia game starting in 2009. The oar was made out of a 1,000-year old cypress tree that grew in the Okefenokee Swamp. This swamp straddles the Florida-Georgia border and once was the subject of an interstate boundary dispute. Both schools’ logos are carved into the oar.
Florida’s longest active win streak against an SEC opponent is against Kentucky. Florida has beaten the Wildcats 28 straight times. Kentucky last beat Florida in 1986.
The Gators longest active losing streak against an SEC opponent sits at four consecutive losses to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Florida’s last victory over Alabama came in the 2008 SEC Championship Game.
Florida QBs were breaking passing records before the 1990s. Spurrier may have brought the fun n’ gun to Gainesville, but QB John Reaves (1969-1971) lit up the passing records well before the Spurrier coaching era. Reaves needed a few more yards against Miami in 1971 in order to break the NCAA passing record, so the Florida defense coordinated a “flop” where they laid down and permitted Miami to score to get Reaves and the Gators the ball back in the closing minutes of the game. Reaves then broke the record. This event is known as the “Gator flop” (watch the video below)…
John Reaves daughter is married to Lane Kiffin. Yes, Lane Kiffin’s father-in-law is a legendary Florida Gators QB. Doesn’t the Lane Kiffin story just keep getting better?
The largest number of Gators drafted in a single NFL Draft was in 1978 when 10 Gators were drafted by NFL teams. There are three times when nine players from Florida have been drafted (1992, 2007, 2010).
The highest a Florida player has been drafted is third overall, and it has happened three times: Steve Spurrier in 1967, Gerard Warren in 2001 and Wes Chandler in 1978.
Florida has had three players go drafted in the first round of an NFL Draft twice: Joe Haden, Maurkice Pouncey and Tim Tebow were drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft and Trace Armstrong, David Williams and Louis Oliver were drafted in the first round of the 1989 NFL Draft.
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium was constructed in the 1930s, but it has only been nicknamed “The Swamp” since the early 1990s due to comments made by head coach Steve Spurrier.
The Gators went undefeated in 1911 with a 5-0-1 record. The only regular season where Florida went undefeated and un-tied was in 1995 (Florida went on to lose to Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl).
The Gators were known as a “second half team” during the 1960s Ray Graves era because of Dr. Robert Cade testing a sports drink named “Gatorade” on the football team. The team which was used to playing in extreme heat and humidity responded well to the new sports drink and was able to play harder, later in games.