Florida/Tennessee Week Collides With The Life Of A Part-Time Blogger

I love Tennessee week. When the Florida Gators release their football schedule every year, I mentally circle the Tennessee game. The college football season begins two weeks prior, but this is it’s true start. The Gators have gone through a few games already, but week three typically brings the Volunteers while opening the SEC schedule. This season was a little different due to the conference expansion, but even so this is the week where the rivalries begin. Georgia, LSU and Florida State will follow, but it begins with Tennessee.

As I’ve previously mentioned, this season is a different one for me and I couldn’t be happier. With that happiness comes a life that is busy, busy, and busy again. I’m not complaining, and never would, but it means there are sacrifices to be made when it comes to one of my many loves – The Bull Gator.

In the past, this week may have included a list of things I hate about the Vols. It definitely would have included a clip of Lawrence Wright. I couldn’t go without telling you how many times Peyton Manning beat Florida (uh, he didn’t). And there would have been an overwhelming number of poorly constructed jokes lobbed in Tennessee’s direction.

This year, things are different. You’re getting the first post of the week on day three. Or, more accurately, on night three. My priorities have changed. Add that to the fact that, as you surely know at this point, this isn’t my job. It’s my hobby, and not my only one. I have a “day job” I actually enjoy and it keeps me busy. Then I come home to the most badass two-month old I’ve ever known. Put that all together with the fact that my brain has started to turn itself off before 10:00 on a typical night, and you get a part-time blogger that loves this week more than most others, but doesn’t have the time to say it.

Know, though, that I’m no less of a fan. I’ve spent the week with a raised level of hatred directed at that other orange. I can hardly contain my excitement for what will come on Saturday. Anticipation each season reaches a high around this time. It’s there for me. I feel it like all of you do. I’m ready for Saturday and I can only hope the Gators are too. They’re in for a challenge and there’s plenty more to say to that, but other things call for my attention at the moment.

Updates are erratic and come either rarely or in bunches, but know I’m with you yelling Go Gators! It’s Tennessee week and I proudly hate alongside of all of you.

Okay, okay. Here’s the clip. Right around the two-minute mark is where things get beautifully nasty.

Last-Minute Thoughts: Florida Gators vs. Tennessee Volunteers

Coming to you earlier, but shorter. There is but one last-minute thought today. Partying has commenced and continued if you are Lawrence Wright. The party ended in one quick moment for Joey Kent. When you think of Florida and Tennessee, you think of this clip. What you’re looking for comes in around the two-minute mark.

My Most Gut-Wrenching Sports Moment

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 13: A Florida Gators fan looks on dejected during a game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida. The Gamecocks beat the Gators 36-14. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)I was listening to The Scott Van Pelt show the other day and he and Ryen Russillo were discussing Boise State’s overtime loss to Nevada and Kyle Brotzman’s missed kicks. Van Pelt and Russillo were talking about how the end of that game has to be a Broncos’ fan’s most gut-wrenching sports moment ever. I can agree with that. While it seems unlikely that Auburn or Oregon will lose, there is still a chance either could slip up, but if they do, Boise State will no longer be the team taking their place in the National Championship game. After all the talk about how the Broncos belong in title discussions, they didn’t get through the regular season.

Van Pelt and Russillo went on to talk about their own most gut-wrenching moments. Van Pelt recalled Duke and Jay Williams blasting Maryland and Russillo went on about two of the usual Boston Red Sox moments – Bill Buckner and Aaron Boone.

This of course made me think about my own moment. I, like most people, am a fan of a number of teams across a variety of sports. I could point to one of the Orlando Magic’s NBA Finals appearances, but I’m a passive Magic and NBA fan (which is funny because I used to LOVE everything about the NBA) so while Nick Anderson’s missed free throws will always be remembered, they were far from gut-wrenching. Ray Rice provided many moments that might make any USF fan puke, but it’s hard – when looking at the entire picture of those seasons – to determine how much of an impact they really had. So I turn to the team I’m most passionate about – the Florida Gators.

The moment is easy to pick. It’s actually a series of moments put all together that repeatedly kick me in the stomach even almost 15 years later. But while it can all be combined for a night of pain for Florida and Gators’ fans, one moment stands above the rest. One moment is burned into my mind so much so that I can accurately replay it in my head without needing to watch the highlight.

By now you already know which moment I’m talking about. It happened on January 2, 1996. The #2 Florida Gators faced the #1 Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Fiesta Bowl for the National Championship. These were two dominant teams throughout the course of the season. The Huskers’ closest game was a 13-point victory. The Gators’ was 11. Nebraska was the favorite according to Vegas, but many thought Florida had a good chance to win because of Danny Wuerffel and the Gators’ ridiculously efficient passing game. The result was a 62-24 Huskers’ win. That’s right, 38 points. The Gators took a 10-6 lead into the second quarter. 15 minutes later, Florida was down 35-10 at the half. And it didn’t stop there.

Like I said, the game as a whole is still tough for me to swallow. I was a high school senior at the time only a few months away from starting classes as a freshman at Florida. I had been a Gator my entire life and that was it. Remember, USF wouldn’t even play their first ever game for another 20 months and those of you that have been around this site before know my passion levels for the two aren’t even in the same galaxy. I have an ongoing flirtation with the Bulls. I’m madly in love with the Gators.

This was the National Championship. Add that to the fact that I’m in that minority that actual believes the 1995 Gators’ squad was better than the 1996 team which won the title. That may seem blasphemous given how badly they were defeated by Nebraska, but I’m also someone who believes the 1995 Huskers are the best college football team ever.

On to the moment, like I said, you’ve probably already figured it out. It’s the play that always made me cheer just a little quieter for Rod Frazier even though he was wearing orange and blue. With less than a minute left in the third quarter and Florida just having scored to put the score at 42-18, the moment happened. Tommie Frazier ran for what looked to be about a 10-yard gain. In a flash, it became a 75-yard touchdown run. Frazier broke tackles, avoided tackles, and, oh yeah, broke more tackles. Even more painful was the tackles he was breaking. Right before Frazier broke free, he practically runs over Ben Hanks and drags Lawrence Wright for a few yards. For those of you not well-versed in Florida history, those are two very, VERY good defenders. Two of the better tacklers and hitters the Gators had and probably ever have had. Frazier treated them like they were kids attempting to bring down a Hall of Famer. It was oh so upsetting. In case you missed it, here’s the video…

You’re probably not too happy with me for posting that. I’m not too happy with myself either. The caption for the clip says “one of the greatest Husker QBs ever.” That could be one of the more understated claims you’ll hear. Tommie Frazier is one of the greatest to ever play the sport. Period. When healthy, he was unstoppable. As a fan of college football, watching him in that game was seeing something special, something historic. As a Gator fan, he might as well punched you in the nose and then kicked your dog while you were drowning in your own tears. That run was the definition of gut-wrenching.

I’d imagine many Florida fans have the same moment at the top of their list, but if not or if you aren’t a Gator fan, feel free to add your most gut-wrenching sports moment. We might as well prepare ourselves for the sorrow that is the end of the college football season with some past sports nightmares.

Morning Reading: Eric Berry versus Taylor Mays

I’m a big fan of safeties. Who isn’t? Being a Florida fan, it’s hard not to have visions of former Gator great Lawrence Wright leveling Joey Kent. Or Reggie Nelson scoring on an interception return against Alabama. Or, most recently, Major Wright knocking Manny Johnson into another zip code. Safeties are just fun to watch. It’s as simple as that.

Two of the best safeties in the history of college football (yes, I went there) are currently getting ready for their junior and senior seasons respectively. While a school like Florida may have a great all-around secondary, Tennessee and USC have the individual stars. Eric Berry and Taylor Mays have entire offenses making sure they know exactly where they are lined up.

Berry seems like the better coverage safety. He’s a definite ball hawk who is a threat to score anytime he gets an interception. Although the Vols are not expected to shock the world this season, Berry may be able to singlehandedly keep them in games for longer than most would think possible. You can probably write in between six and eight interceptions and six and eight game-changing hits right now.

If you’re going to give Berry that many big hits, you might as well give Mays triple that. Not that Berry isn’t a great hitter, but Mays isn’t asked to cover one-on-one as much and benefits in the hit department by playing more of center field. He won’t intercept nearly as many passes as Berry, but he’ll make receivers think twice before even attempting to catch the ball.

If you watch a single Vol or Trojan game this fall, watch it for these two. They won’t be around in 2010.