Cardsfan25 answers the question "Why do you root for the Gators?" It involves a hat. Will all of our stories involve hats? Tell him (and me!) what you think in the comments.
I moved to New York when I was four, and college football is simply not that big of a deal up there. I wouldn't call myself a fan at that time, but I was aware of who the good teams were. My Dad and the overwhelming majority of my family all hail from Tennessee. This being the case, they root for the Vols. I have family members with UT degrees on their walls, as embarrassed as I am to admit that. At about the age of 13 (1993), I began to follow college football more closely, and at 15 I moved to Orlando, to live with my UT fan Dad. As any good son would, I dutifully rooted for the Vols,and became increasingly interested in college football -- and increasingly agitated by the visored one, and his Gators.
When I began to look at colleges, my parents made it clear that the Florida Bright Futures scholarship I was in line to receive would certainly be put to use. I applied to two schools, Florida and FSU, and was extremely hopeful that I would be accepted by the best academic institution in the state. I will admit that even then, there was a curiousity about what it would be like to root for a team like Florida. A team that won, and that you knew would compete every year. This is not to diminish the accomplishments of UT in the 1990s, but Florida had a swagger to it that Tennessee did not.
I was indeed accepted, and from that moment, the transformation began. I can still remember a secret Santa event held my senior year in high school. There were several other future Florida students in there, and it had obviously been orchestrated for me to select a certain gift from the large pile available. The biggest box was being ignored, so when the opportunity came to select, I jumped all over it. What was in that huge box? A Florida Gator hat, and my very first.
I will admit that the first game between Tennessee and Florida was pretty difficult for me to watch. It was the game Alex Brown had five sacks against the Vols. I found myself cheering whenever either side did something successfully. There was a lot of cheering. But Florida won that game, and after that I never looked back. I have rooted for Florida ever since, and I follow Florida football more closely than anyone else I know. I left Florida after two years, and returned in 2002, just in time for Ron Zook. Being in Gainesville and witnessing the decay of a program like Florida was a humbling experience as a fan. It definitely helped shape the way that I view things, and the way that I typically interact with other fans.
At this point, I log onto Florida football sites multiple times daily. I'm a bit of a recruitnik, and follow recruiting very closely. I'm incredibly optimistic about the future, and I believe that Will Muschamp will be a very successful coach for the Gators. Saturdays in the fall are all about one thing for me.
To bring the Tennessee thing back full circle, my brother also attended Florida and has a degree hanging in his office. He also rooted for the Vols growing up, but unlike me he didn't change after moving to Gainesville. He still roots for Tennessee, and hates Florida athletics with a passion. How someone can attend Florida, and live in Gainesville for over four years, and hate Florida football is beyond me. It does add an interesting twist to my fanhood, though: Due to those circumstances, and other family members who root for UT, my Florida fanhood now has a clear anti-Tennessee twinge to it. I hate Lane Kiffin with a passion, and I revel in the recent failure of that program. It's almost strange to think about how I was once loyal to the orange and white, and I now root against them with such vigor. For this Florida boy, it's all Gators, all the time. Glad I could share, and go Gators.