Near a Prarie, UF Climbs the Mountain Again
October 19, 2012
Gainesville's got its swagger back. In the year 2 AT (After Tebow), UF Football is more than just another mildly successful athletic program. The Gators, ranked second in the season's first Bowl Championship Standings (BCS) poll, have returned to national prominence. Most importantly, though, the Gators have restored their fans' pride.
In the football-centric Southeast, a fan's pride is directly tied to how a program does on a yearly basis. History matters, but the present matters more. An undefeated team this year that still has a chance to lose means more than a one-loss team from seventeen years ago (that one-loss team would be the 1995 Gators, shellacked by Nebraska a year before UF's first national championship).
It hasn't been easy recently. Fans not only had to recover from losing star players and star coaches but had to trudge through two trying (by their standards) seasons.
Now the sky is a bit more blue. Construction signs are a bit more orange. The clouds are white and provide cover from the sun, not gray and foreshadowing an autumn downpour. This is how vital a football program is in the South - it can affect one's view of nature itself.
ESPN's College Gameday is in town. University Avenue is bustling the Friday before the game. An orange-and-blue van drives around town, playing UF's fight song and Alma Mater full-blast. A pickup truck with shirtless frat boys comes along, their whoops and hollers mingling with the fans cheering at a taping of College Football Live.
The boys are back in town, and with them, so are the fans.