So its the 2001 NCAA Division I-A football season, i’m in 7th grade living here in Los Angeles, home of the PAC-10, at the time, and home to both USC and UCLA, who went 6-6 and 7-4 during that season, but everyone is in love with Miami (very great team) and Nebraska playing for the BCS National Championship in my backyard the Rose Bowl. I remember playing in the after school flag football team we wanted to run the Option Offense like Nebraska, which didn’t work we ended up with a losing record! But basically living here, I had plenty of football to watch from. My father not really being a college football fan didn’t watch it much, but I guess being from LA liked USC like any other person living here would or UCLA, but me instead of me watching PAC-10 football, i’m watching the SEConCBS!
The first Gator game I ever remember watching was Mississippi State vs Florida Gators playing at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium or The Swamp, we won 52-0! Why did I stop on CBS though, to watch a team that was never ever mentioned on the West Coast, well I fell in love with the uniforms, then the Gator logo, then Gator mascot Albert, the Gator Chomp by fans, and then The Swamp. I thought it was so cool to nickname a stadium The Swamp! From then on I was hooked on Gator football. I tuned into game after that game that season, we went 10-2 finished ranked 3 in the nation! But yet in middle school unless your team is champion everyone makes fun of you especially since a rival Miami won the title. I did not understand the BCS system at the time, which I still don’t think anyone does, but I was very happy when we beat Maryland in the Orange Bowl! I remember watching Coach Spurrier and his visor, QB Rex Grossman, and WR Jabar Gaffney who I wanted to be like on that middle school team. I was very sad when he left to coach the Washington Redskins.
The Coach Ron Zook era came, he finished 23-14 which is not good enough to be Head Football Coach of the Gators. I really liked QB Chris Leak though, but other then that all I can say about that era was I could not brag much about being a Gator fan out here in LA!
Then came Coach Urban Meyer and to me the greatest Florida Gator of all time Timothy Richard Tebow, 2 BCS National Championships, and a Heisman Trophy! A large part of Tebow becoming my favorite player is his faith, but also the way he leads by example. How he choose to come back for his senior season says a lot about him. When he gave “The Speech” to Gator Nation that was awesome! During this time I was definitely bragging about being a Gator fan with my #15 Tebow jersey on!
There are a some moments that have stayed with me besides the championship wins, my younger brother buying me my first Florida Gator jersey for Christmas, when Tebow cried on Senior Day, Coach Meyer leaving, and when Tebow cried after losing to Alabama at the SEC Championship game to basically go to the BCS Championship, which I was planning to attend because it was going to be played at out of all places the Rose Bowl since the Gators never leave Florida or SEC country, I cried a lot after that game too. I have yet to attend a game at The Swamp, but God willing one day I will!
We are now going into the second season of the Coach Will Muschamp era. Last season we finished 7-6, the best part was beating Ohio State in the Gator Bowl since Coach Meyer is going there! I can not wait for the season to start, 3 games i’m looking forward to are vs Texas A&M at College Station on Sept 8 I believe this game will say a lot about how our season is going to go, also against LSU at The Swamp on Oct 6 because everyone is already saying LSU vs USC in the championship, but i’m hoping for a Florida vs USC championship so I can brag about beating them to all the USC fans here in LA, and also against Georgia in Jacksonville on Oct 27 because many have them ranked very high and saying if its not LSU or Alabama its Georgia which means they have totally forgot my Florida Gators, but no matter what it will be a great season for Gator fans EVERYWHERE!
GO GATORS! God Bless!
About the Author
Written by Omar Zepeda