For the Gators, the march to Miami began on January 1, 2008. Their defense was embarrassed and the Heisman winning quarterback could not lead UF past Michigan and their lame duck coach. Florida finished the season 9-4, third place in the SEC East. At that time, the Gators looked to be a few years away from competing again for a National Championship.
While the Gators loss was crushing to the Orange and Blue, Oklahoma's loss on January 2, 2008 to West Virginia was a nightmare. For the second consecutive season, the Sooners finished with an embarassing loss in the Fiesta Bowl, losing to West Virginia and their interim coach 48-28. They were out-coached, out-played and out-classed. Once OU got smacked in the mouth, they stayed on the mat and counted to 10.
Now both teams look like world beaters. While USC, Utah and Texas wait in the wings, only Florida and Oklahoma control their own destiny tonight, and that is all you can ask for in college football.
Destiny and fate are fickle things, but they seem to be hanging over this ballgame. Florida fans think Tim Tebow can't lose. Oklahoma fans think they can't lose a fifth consecutive BCS bowl game. With destiny and fate, the men on each sideline become icons. Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops would win their second BCS titles, something no other coach has. Stoops would make a place in Oklahoma's history books. Meyer would top the man who built Florida, Steve Spurrier. Sam Bradford could leave school with a ring, Heisman and the overall number one draft pick. Tim Tebow could become the most decorated college football player of all time. As much as this game will be determined by those four men, and the other coaches and players surrounding them, destiny and fate will have their say too.
I will be in Dolphin Stadium tonight, our first Gator championship not in Gainesville (except when I was a kid in 1996). As a big believer in destiny, fate, karma, good luck and prayers to St. Anthony, I always think the Gators have the best chance to win. We'll see if for the fourth time in three years I'll be right and the University of Florida can add another sign on the marquees off University Avenue.