A few months later, this girl named Jessica, wanted to date me and Alyssa was all like, "You better not date her! You better tell her 'no' right now!" And I'm like, "Whoa, what do you care? You have a boyfriend. Why are you so jealous?" And she's like, "Because I love you." Then she broke down crying. That was the first time since we dated that she told me she loved me. I didn't know what to say, so I didn't say anything to her for the rest of the night. I put my arm around her, she put her head on my shoulder, I held her hand, and we sat there in silence for the rest of the night trying not to ruin the moment.
But most of all, the matchup has produced raucous football: the 1997 stunner in Baton Rouge, the Zookening in Baton Rouge in 2003, the rollicking 2007 game what was the best game we've ever attended in person. Joe Alleva said playing Florida regularly put LSU at a competitive disadvantage. In the 20th century that competitive disadvantage is split evenly: six wins for LSU, and six wins for Florida. A statement like that is at a competitive disadvantage against math and Johnny Walker Blue Label, and appears to be losing badly to both.
This is a rivalry worth keeping, and not just for the football. It's worth keeping because it's fun. We can't have fun with Alabama, since football is and never has been fun for anyone in Alabama. Auburn doesn't even really care, since you're just practice for their weird obsession with Alabama. Georgia's been too compliant lately, Tennessee has some kind of weird wasting disease, Kentucky just watches the clock the whole time and thinks of England, and Vanderbilt, while game, is Vanderbilt.
The 14-team conference has been negotiating with both networks this year after the SEC expanded with Texas A&M and Missouri. That triggered a clause in the SEC's deal that allows the league to go back to the negotiating table with its partners, just as the ACC recently renegotiated its media contract with ESPN after its own expansion with Pittsburgh and Syracuse.
The bigger negotiation is with ESPN, and talks appear to revolve around an SEC-branded cable channel that could launch as early as 2014. ESPN's current arrangement with the SEC — negotiated in 2008 — pays an average of $150 million a year over 15 years.
10. Will Muschamp, Florida
2011 record: 7-6, 3-5
At Florida (1 year): 7-6
FBS career (1 year): 7-6
Here’s what Will Muschamp walked into at Florida: a fan base that was uneasy about the hire, and one that ended up watching his first team struggle without its injured starting quarterback. What many didn’t see (or understand) is the utter mess left behind by former coach Urban Meyer. That will give Muschamp house money for a while, but—by his own admission—he must start winning games. If the Gators make a strong turn back this season toward the SEC elite, 2013 could be a big season on the back of three straight elite recruiting classes.
A BCS coach says: "At the end of the day, no one cares what he was left with by the former guy. We all say that—and it doesn’t do any good. Fans have a short memory, and believe me, so do university presidents."
Just Missed the Cut: William Gholston, Michigan State, DE; John Simon, Ohio State, DL; DeAnthony Thomas, Oregon, RB/KR; Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse, DB; Eric Reid, LSU, DB; Hunter Furr, ECU, RB; Samuel Harvill, K-State, DL; Rashad Ross, ASU, WR; Jamie Collins, So Miss, LB; Kelvin Benjamin, FSU, WR; Denard Robinson, Michigan, QB; Jordan Phillips, OU, DT; Dri Archer, Kent State, RB; Jesse Williams, Alabama, DT; Lerentee McCray, Florida, LB; George Atkinson III, Notre Dame, RB; and Pat O'Donnell, Cincy, punter.
Kline joined Twitter in May 2010. When Florida Coach Billy Donovan began to follow him, Kline felt as if he was gaining credibility. When Roberts placed an unprompted call to him, Kline was particularly bedazzled.
1. Florida, 2009 (13-1): In a revenge-filled SEC championship game, eventual national champion Alabama drilled the Gators in Atlanta. The teams met for the second consecutive season in the Georgia Dome. In this case, the 31-13 drubbing would have cost the Gators a spot even in the Football Four as they slipped from No. 1 to No. 5. The four teams ahead of Florida – Bama, Texas, Cincinnati and TCU – were all undefeated in the regular season. Still, a great team lost out as the Tebow run ended.
5. Florida, 2001 (10-2): It's hard to remember the biggest controversy of this season was Colorado getting left out of the BCS championship game despite pounding No. 2 Nebraska. Florida, the preseason No. 1, was No. 2 going into the regular-season finale against Tennessee. Can't spell left out without UT which beat Florida 34-32. Tennessee blew its own title game berth by losing to LSU in the SEC championship game. Rex Grossman threw for 38 touchdowns for the last Steve Spurrier Florida team.
JB: NO, STEPHEN, CAN YOU TURN THE MUSIC DOWN? I CAN'T KEEP YELLING OVER THE PHONE!
SG: BRO, IT'S FREEBIRD! HOLD ON, HERE COMES THE BEST PART!
[A few minutes go by as Garcia air guitars the solo. Then turns the stereo down.]
SG: So, what were you saying?
JB: The NFL Draft. Are you watching it?
SG: Huh? That was this weekend?
While Florida coach Will Muschamp has been visiting the fan base at Gator Gatherings, his coaching staff has traveled across the country to evaluate out-of-state prospects on the recruiting board.
Throughout my two years at the Alligator, I have been the punchline of joke after joke about my age. Some of you knew why I was such an old bastard. Some didn’t. But none of you ever treated me differently because of it.
Everyone — there’s too many to name — at this paper has touched me in a way I will never forget. Finally, there’s not any questions. Finally, I feel at peace with where I am in life.
And finally, I have a meaning of family I know I can believe in.