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100 things about 100 years of Gator football

Compiled by Antonya English
Published August 27, 2006


MILESTONE MOMENTS

1. 1906: Florida fields a team for the first time, led by coach J.A. "Pee Wee" Forsythe. The Gators defeat Rollins 6-0 in the school's first game.

2. 1908: Gainesville merchant Phillip Miller, on a visit to Charlottesville, Va., goes to a local Michie Company to see about having banners and pennants made to sell at Florida games. It is there that Miller is said to have chosen a picture of an alligator to put on the pennants. Displayed in his store, the name "Alligators" begins to be used to describe the football team.

3. 1911: Florida's first undefeated season. The Gators go 5-0-1.

4. 1928: John J. Tigert is hired as president of UF. A former football coach at Kentucky, he led a fund-raising campaign to raise $118,000 to build Florida Field. He chose the site, and Florida architecture dean Rudolph Weaver designed the stadium.

5. 1965: Former offensive tackle and then assistant coach Dewayne Douglas enlists the assistance of Dr. Robert Cade to find out why football players lose as much as 19 pounds during practice. Cade's research leads him to develop the sports drink now known as Gatorade, which produces millions in royalties for the university annually.

6. 1965: With demand for tickets increasing, construction begins on a 10,000-seat expansion on the east side of Florida Field, bringing permanent seating to 56,164.

7. 1966: Quarterback Steve Spurrier kicks a 40-yard field goal with 2:12 remaining to defeat Auburn 30-27 and clinch the 1966 Heisman Trophy. He also went 27-of-40 for 259 yards and a touchdown, then ran for another touchdown. The win makes the Gators 7-0.

8. Nov. 10, 1928: Florida earns its first win over Georgia in school history 26-6.

9. Florida earns its first national championship, 52-20 over Florida State after the 1996 season.

10. Dec. 17, 1968: Tampa native Leonard George signs an athletic scholarship, becoming the first black football player for the Gators. Willie Jackson becomes the second to sign the next day.

INFLUENTIAL COACHES

11. Bob Woodruff: He led Florida into the modern era, coaching from 1950-58. His 53-42-6 record was the best up to that point in Florida history, and in 1952 he led the Gators to their first bowl game.

12. Ray Graves: He coached from 1960-69 and compiled a 70-31-4 record, with five bowl teams (four wins). He coached 14 All-Americans and Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier. His 1967 team was the first to win nine games. He is in the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame.

13. Doug Dickey: He led Florida from 1970-78, compiling a 58-43-2 record and four bowl appearances. Only Spurrier and Graves won more games. He is also a member of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame.

14. Charley Pell: He was the coach during Florida's infamous 0-10-1 season in 1979, but he won eight games the next season for the biggest improvement from one year to the next in college football at the time. He was part of the group that helped raise booster contributions to increase stadium capacity to 72,000 in 1982 and an athletic training facility. Pell left three games into the 1984 season with the program under NCAA investigation and never coached again. He died of lung cancer May 28, 2001.

15. Steve Spurrier: In 12 seasons, he led Florida to a national title, six SEC championships and six SEC East titles. He also coached a Heisman winner (Danny Wuerffel), a Heisman runnerup (Rex Grossman) and 20 first-team All Americans.

NAMES YOU PROBABLY DON'T (BUT SHOULD) KNOW

16. James A. Van Fleet: Coach from 1923-24, he became a four-star general and World War II hero.

17. Dale Van Sickel: An end who was Florida's first All-American. He went on to become a UF assistant football and basketball coach (1930-32), then a movie stuntman in Hollywood from 1933-77.

18. J.A. "Pee Wee" Forsythe: He was the coach and also played fullback in 1906, receiving $500 for both.

19. Tom Sebring: A World War I veteran, he coached the Gators from 1925-27, then was a Florida Supreme Court Justice and a judge at the Nuremberg war crimes trials.

20. W.A. Shands: A quarterback, center and end from 1907-09, he became a state senator and was instrumental in having the first medical school in the state university system located in Gainesville, his hometown, in 1953.

21. G.E. Pyle: Went 26-7-3 as coach from 1909-13.

22. Earle "Dummy" Taylor: The only UF player to earn five football letters, he played five seasons as a halfback and drop-kicker, beginning with his freshman season in 1908. He ran for touchdowns of 43, 75 and 60 yards in a 28-3 win over Rollins in 1909. His field-goal records for a game (three), season (eight in 1911) and career (16) stood until the mid 1970s.

23. Ark Newton: From 1921-24, he played almost 60 minutes each game and is credited with scoring touchdowns on long runs, returning kickoffs, passing, receiving, interceptions and punts. Among his most memorable: a 92-yard punt return against Mississippi A&M and a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Army at West Point.

24. Charles Bachman: Coach when Florida earned its first victory over Georgia in 1928.

25. Walter "Tiger" Mayberry: The Gators' first All-SEC player in 1937. He became a Marine fighter pilot, was shot down and captured during World War II and died in a Japanese POW camp in 1943.

26. Forrest K. "Fergie" Ferguson: An All-SEC end from 1939-41, he started every game, playing both offense and defense. He was also a track star, winning the national AAU javelin title. He was severely wounded in the Normandy invasion and died a decade later from those wounds. The Fergie Ferguson Award is given annually to the senior "who displays outstanding leadership, character and courage."

27. Jimmy Kynes: He was the Gators' first All-SEC lineman as a center and linebacker in 1949 and was the last Gator to play 60 minutes in a game, averaging 55 minutes that season. He is best remembered for his play in the 28-7 win over Georgia in '49 that broke a seven-game losing streak to the Bulldogs. He became the youngest Attorney General in Florida in 1964.

28. Haywood Sullivan: A dual-sport athlete from Alabama, he played two seasons of football (1950-51) before signing a major-league baseball contract (he also later co-owned the Boston Red Sox). He set 12 passing records, including for game, season and career, that stood until Steve Spurrier broke them in 1966.

29. Rick Casares: Most remembered for his stellar performances in back-to-back games against Georgia and Auburn in 1952. The former Jefferson High star had 108 yards on 27 carries, a field goal, scored two TDs and three extra points to account for 18 points in a 30-0 win over the Bulldogs. The next week he had two TDs, kicked a 30-yard field goal and four extra points in a 31-21 win over the Tigers. He, Buford Long and J. "Poppa" Hall comprised a backfield trio that was one of the best in the nation.

TRADITIONS THAT STILL STAND

30. Mr. Two-Bits: Tampa's George Edmonson Jr. has "retired," but he makes an occasional appearance in his trademark orange-and-blue tie and yellow shirt to lead fans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in a round of the Two Bits cheer.

31. We Are The Boys: At the end of the third quarter, Florida fans wrap arms around each other, sway to this song and sing.

32. Albert and Alberta: The school's mascots remain a staple at games.

MOST PLAYS

33. Shane Matthews (1989-92): 1,202 pass, 195 run in 34 games.

34. Danny Wuerffel (1993-96): 1,170 pass, 185 run in 46 games.

35. Chris Leak (2003-05): 1,092 pass, 243 run in 37 games.

36. Wayne Peace (1980-83): 991 pass, 248 run in 43 games.

37. John Reaves (1969-71): 1,128 pass, 110 run in 32 games.

GIFT OF GRAB

(Most prolific receivers)

38. Carlos Alvarez 172 receptions, 1969-71

39. Willie Jackson 162, 1990-93

40. Errict Rhett 153, 1990-93

41. Chris Doering 149, 1992-95

42. Jack Jackson, 143, 1992-94

43. Reche Caldwell 141, 1999-01

44. Jabar Gaffney 138, 2001-01

GREATEST RUNNERS

45. Errict Rhett: From 1990-93 he rushed for 4,163 yards.

46. Emmitt Smith: He ran for 3,928 yards from 1987-89. He went on to a stellar career with the Dallas Cowboys.

47. Neal Anderson: From 1982-85 he rushed for 3,234 yards. He later played for the Chicago Bears.

48. Fred Taylor: From 1994-97 he ran for 3,075 yards and was a member of the national championship team.

49. Earnest Graham: He rushed for 3,065 from 1999-02.

 

LONGEST RUSHING PLAYS FOR TOUCHDOWNS

50. Emmitt Smith: 96 yards vs. Mississippi State in 1988.

51. Herb McAnley: 91 yards against Sewanee in 1932.

52. Willie Wilder: 91 yards vs. Mississippi State in 1976.

53. Ken McLean: 90 yards vs. Georgia in 1944.

54. John L. Williams: 86 yards vs. West Texas State in 1982.

FANFARE AND FLAIR

(Plays that still get fans reminiscing)

55. HE'S TO THE 20, THE 30, THE ... UH, YOUR PANTS? Freshman Larry Smith breaks free en route to a 94-yard touchdown run in the Orange Bowl after the 1966 season against Georgia Tech, still a record for that bowl game. But what made the play even more noteworthy was the razor-thin running back out of Robinson High started losing his pants during the run, having to keep them hitched up as he ran.

56. GIMME AN F-L-O-P: In 1971, Florida led Miami 45-8 with 1:20 left when Gators defenders laid down and let the Hurricanes score on a run from the Florida 8. That allowed Florida to get the ball back and senior quarterback John Reaves to break Jim Plunkett's record for NCAA career passing yards. Miami coach Fran Curci refused to shake hands with UF's Doug Dickey after the game. Making matters worse, several Gators jumped into an end zone pool that housed Dolphins mascot Flipper at the Orange Bowl during NFL games.

57. I CAN CATCH, BUT WATCH THIS PASS: Cris Collinsworth ultimately made his mark at Florida as a receiver, but the former quarterback actually holds the NCAA and Gator records for the longest touchdown pass - a 99-yard throw to Derrick Gaffney in a 48-3 win over Rice in 1977.

58. DOERING'S GOT A TOUCHDOWN: In a classic play that made Florida play-by-play announcer Mick Hubert's catch-phrase "Ohhhh My" famous, freshman quarterback Danny Wuerffel, in only his second game, hit former walk-on receiver Chris Doering for a 28-yard touchdown pass (only the second of his career, the first earlier in that same game) with three seconds remaining to give the Gators a 24-20 road win over Kentucky on Sept. 11, 1993. It became known as the play of the season, prompting coach Steve Spurrier to later say: "If Kentucky doesn't screw up that coverage on that one play and we don't get that touchdown, then we don't win the Eastern Division, we don't win the SEC, we don't win the Sugar Bowl. We don't have our biggest year ever. That one play."

59. GAME SAVER: Trailing rival FSU 29-25 with just under two minutes to go, Florida quarterback Doug Johnson connected on a 63-yard deep curl-and-go spiral pass to Jacquez Green, from the 20 to the FSU 17. That set up Fred Taylor's fourth touchdown run and sealed the 32-29 win for the Gators on Nov. 22, 1997, in front of 85,677 at Florida Field. The loss knocked then-No. 2 FSU out of the race for the national title. "I'd rather lose 52-20 than the way we did tonight," Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden said.

GOING DEEP

(Nobody loves the deep ball like a Florida Gators fan. The four longest after Collinsworth to Gaffney)

60. Eric Kresser's 96-yard pass to Jacquez Green (vs. Northern Illinois, 1995).

61. Kerwin Bell's 96-yard pass to Ricky Nattiel (vs. Georgia, 1984)

62. Kyle Morris 93 yards to Stacey Simmons (vs. Montana State, 1988).

63. Eric Kresser's 87-yarder to Reidel Anthony (vs. Southern Miss, 1994).

HEISMAN WINNERS

64. Steve Spurrier (1966)

65. Danny Wuerffel (1996)

FAMOUS HEARTBREAKERS

66. Nov. 26, 1994: Florida takes a 31-3 lead into the fourth quarter, but FSU battles back and the game ends in the infamous 31-31 tie labeled the "Choke at Doak."

67. Dec. 1, 2001: In a game rescheduled from September because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, No. 2 Florida loses at home to No. 5 Tennessee, costing the Gators the SEC East title, a trip to the SEC Championship Game and possibly a national title game appearance.

68. Nov. 8, 1980; Run, Lindsay, Run: undefeated No. 2 Georgia trails Florida 21-20 with 1:35 remaining in the annual rivalry when quarterback Buck Belue throws a short pass to Lindsay Scott near the 25-yard line. Scott takes the ball the distance for the winning touchdown.

69. Sept. 14, 1985: Ranked No. 3 in the nation and coming off a huge 35-23 win over Miami, the Gators struggle to a 28-28 tie against unranked Rutgers.

70. Nov. 2, 1985: The Gators defeat Auburn 14-10 to earn their first No. 1 ranking, but come back the next week and lose to Georgia 24-3, dropping to No. 11 after a bye week.

71. Jan. 2, 1995: In its first national championship game appearance, Florida takes a 62-24 pounding at the hands of Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl. The Gators had made it through the regular season undefeated.

72. Oct. 5, 2002: Ranked No. 6 in the nation, Florida travels to Mississippi and is handed a 17-14 loss by the unranked Rebels, sending fans onto the field to tear down the goal posts.

73. Oct. 23, 2004: Jerrious Norwood scores on a 37-yard run with 32 seconds remaining as Mississippi State defeats No. 19 Florida 38-31. The loss ultimately ended Ron Zook's career as coach. He is fired two days later.

74. Oct. 15, 1994: Undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the nation, the Gators lose 36-33 to No. 6 Auburn. Quarterback Terry Dean, touted as a Heisman candidate, is benched in favor of Danny Wuerffel.

75. Sept. 30, 2000: No. 3 Florida travels to Starkville and, in one of the biggest upsets of the season, loses to the Bulldogs 47-35, ending a 72-game winning streak against unranked teams.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPURRIER ERA

76. Jan. 2, 1996: A 52-20 win over Florida State for the school's only national championship.

77. Dec. 4, 1993: A 28-13 win over Alabama gives UF its first SEC title game victory. (The Gators won their first conference championship in 1991.)

78. Nov. 22, 1997: A 32-29 last-second win over FSU knocks the Seminoles out of the national championship race.

79. Jan. 2, 2001: A 56-23 win over Maryland in the Orange Bowl is his last game as Florida coach.

80. Dec. 2, 2000: A 28-6 win over Auburn in the 2000 SEC Championship Game is UF's last league title.


LITTLE-KNOWN FACTS:

81. In 1944, Florida defeated Florida Southern 144-0.

82. Florida's first team disbanded after just three games and coach/fullback J.A. "Pee Wee" Forsythe went to Jacksonville to join a semipro team. He returned to coach in 1907 and 1908.

83. In 1907, touchdowns and field goals were worth four points.

84. The Gators' first postseason bowl game was held in Havana, Cuba, in 1912 - two games played over the Christmas holidays. Florida defeated Vedado Athletic Club 27-0. The second game, against the Cuban Athletic Club, ended with coach G.E. Pyle's arrest after he refused to continue play, citing excessive penalties against the team. After a postponement of his short trial, Pyle and the team left the island and the game was never completed.

85. Florida played Stetson in 19 games from 1908 to 1953, going 15-2-2; played Georgia Tech 38 times from 1912-81, going 9-23-6, the most ties with one opponent in school history.

86. Nov. 4, 1922: Harvard defeats Florida 24-0 in one of only two losses that season in front of 50,000 fans at Soldiers Field. Harvard was considered a powerhouse program.

87. The song We Are the Boys From Old Florida was written in 1919 by UF player Bob Swanson, with help from student John Icenhour.

88. Florida's backfield in 1928 was affectionately known as "The Phantom Four." Clyde "Cannonball' Crabtree, Royce Goodbread, Carl Brumbaugh and Rainey Cawthon led the Gators to an 8-1 season while leading the nation in scoring (336 points).

89. In 1943, the Gators didn't field a team because of the war.

90. Florida went 42-52-6 in the 1930s but recorded one of the biggest upsets in school history in 1939. Four-touchdown underdogs, the Gators defeated Frank Leahy-coached Boston College 7-0 at Fenway Park.

FAMOUS SPURRIER QUOTES

91. On not being emotional during his farewell news conference at UF: "I guess I'm supposed to cry a lot because that's what FSU people say I do. I'm not really much of a crier. I don't get all choked up. I don't understand why they said I was crying. I guess because we only won by 24 that day (referring to Florida's 37-13 win in November 2001).

92. On Tennessee's frequent appearances in the Citrus Bowl in the mid 1990s: "You can't spell Citrus without U-T."

93. On a 27-10 loss to Georgia when he was a player: "I probably would have rather beaten Georgia and won the first SEC championship for all of us (than win the Heisman Trophy). If there's one game I'll remember, it's probably the one we lost."

94. To the Polk County Gator Club in 1994 after the FSU Foot Locker scandal: "You know what FSU stands for, don't you? Free Shoes University."

95. On a late touchdown in a 52-17 victory over Georgia in 1995 in Athens: "We knew coming in nobody had scored 50 against them here, so that's what we wanted to do. This may be the only time in our lifetime that Florida plays here, so we wanted to make it memorable for the Gators."

96. On quarterbacks: "One thing I'll never do is be critical of a quarterback. I've thrown to the wrong place myself a lot of times, and I know you don't need the coach making you feel any worse."

97. On Florida Field's nickname: "The Swamp is where Gators live. We feel comfortable there, but we hope our opponents feel tentative. A swamp is hot and sticky and can be dangerous."

98. On Georgia's recruiting after a 45-13 win in 1991 over the Bulldogs: "Why is it that during recruiting season they sign all the great players, but when it comes time to play the game, we have all the great players? I don't understand that. What happens to them?"

99. On allegations FSU was hitting Danny Wuerffel late in the Gators' 1996 24-21 loss: "I think he's sort of a New Testament guy. He gets slapped in the face, and he turns the other cheek. He says, 'Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' I'm probably more of an Old Testament guy. You spear our guy in the ear hole and we think we're supposed to be able to spear you in the ear hole. That's how we're a little different."

100. On Florida tradition: "I really get excited at the games when they play the alma mater. When the band plays, We Are the Boys From Old Florida, it just sends chill bumps all over me."

Compiled by Antonya English, Times staff writer, using information from the University of Florida, 100 Years of Gator Football edited by Timothy O. Davis and Norm Carlson and Quotable Spurrier by Gene Frenette.