Monday, April 3rd, 2006 is the day everything changed. A school more known for football, even its greatest contribution to society was based on football, had defeated the greatest basketball program in history. Overnight, Florida became one of the elite institutions in America not because of an invention or a respected scholar. We did something no one thought was possible. Winning the 2006 title is no different than developing a new invention. Sure, one may affect more people. But both bring fame and fortune to a little college town in Alachua County.
This point was driven home for me the next day in my ethics class. Considering nearly the whole school was on University Avenue that night, my 8:30am class was amazingly packed. My teacher started class by all of us standing up and do `Two-bits' and sing `We Are The Boys'. You'd think an ethics teacher would be one of those academics who think college sports is a plague on society, but it was the opposite.
"You may not realize this," Michael Leslie said, "but Florida has done something very important. We won in football and in basketball. But there are people who didn't know who we were until last night. Now they do."
It's pretty cool to think of things that way. We all know how much a good sports program does for school pride. We don't realize though how much it matters to people outside the school's pull. The championships we won increased the applications UF received. That makes the academic programs more selective and the school better. Not to mention, it inspires buckets of donations.
Of the three titles, this was the only one I was actually enrolled for. (Stupid four year plan.) It's special for me because of the way everyone celebrated on the streets, hugging and yelling "Go Gators!" It was also during the 2006 postseason when `Championship Mode' was officially named, and that is me in the lower left (blue hat) of this picture with Joakim Noah after the team arrived home from Indianapolis. I can tell my kids I was with Jo Noah on the front of Gatorzone. That's pretty special too.