Florida Gators; SEC 101 - A Fan's Guide to the History and Tradition of Mizzou's New Conference

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

Location: Gainesville, Fla.

Enrollment: 49,589

Colors: Orange and Blue

Stadium: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (The Swamp).

Capacity: 88,548. Opened in 1930.

All-time record: 669-385-40/1906

Bowl record: 20-19

Conference championships: 8 (SEC)

TRADITIONS

The football team runs out of the tunnel to the theme music from "Jaws," which the band plays multiple times a game to instigate the well-known Gator Chomp fan gesture. For 60 years, a cheerleader named George Edmondson Jr., but better known as Mr. Two Bits, would lead the "two bits" cheer at midfield before kickoff. At the end of the third quarter, fans lock arms and sing "We Are the Boys from Old Florida" while swaying left to right.

FOOTBALL HISTORY

Since it first began playing in 1906, Florida has traditionially fielded successful teams. Even a down period under beloved coach Bear Wolf from 1946 to 1949, during which the team went 13-24-2 overall and 2-17-2 in the SEC, is ironically remembered as the "Golden Era." In the 1960s coach Ray Graves led the Gators to three nine-win seasons. In the 1966 Sugar Bowl, they lost 20-18 to Missouri, and the next year quarterback Steve Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy. Florida became a national power when Spurrier took over as coach in 1990. He led the Gators to their first SEC title in 1991 and four straight from 1993 to 1996. It beat rival Florida State behind Heisman-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel in the 1996 Sugar Bowl for its first national championship. Under coach Urban Meyer, Florida won two more titles in 2006 and 2008, the latter behind its third Heisman-winning quarterback, Tim Tebow.

NICKNAME

The Gators. Supposedly, a local store owner named Phillip Miller sold school pennants that included an alligator emblem around 1910. With an estimated one million alligators in Florida, there very well could have been more than one person who came up with the idea for the nickname.

MASCOT

Between 1957 and 1970 Florida had a live alligator named Albert as their mascot before switching to a costumed version. …