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Winning Championships Is Not Always Pretty

In between the hand wringing of Gator fans that UF is not winning with enough style points, and the hand wringing of the national media waiting for a truly dominant team to show up, it is important to remember that some times sports does not work that way. Alabama, Florida and Texas are undefeated, but they are increasingly mature teams. Each team has their own boogie men to deal with (new QB, new coordinator, computers), but continue to win because they know how to.

We usually look to pro sports for examples of this, since they are so easy to pick out. The 2000 Yankees, the Yanks' last World Series winning team before this season and last of three straight championships, won only 87 games in 2000. Last year, the Yanks won 89 games and finished 3rd place in the AL East. Those of us raised on "The NBA on NBC" remember the Bulls' 72 wins in the 1995-96 season to start the second three-peat. In '98, the last Bulls title season, Chicago won 62 games and did not have home court advantage against the Utah Jazz. We also forget they only won 57 in 1992-93 (the end of the Bulls' first three-peat) and had to beat the Knicks and Suns without the home-court advantage. When the Colts finally won the Super Bowl, they did it with the worst defense in Tony Dungy's tenure in Indianapolis, and had to rally back from a 21-6 halftime deficit against the Patriots.

Knowing how to win seems to be exclusive of pro sports, since college teams rarely have enough experience to understand what it takes to win. But, Alabama, Florida and Texas all competed for a National Championship last season, with UF and Texas having the added experience of winning prior championships this decade. I'm not making the case that these three are the only ones that can win a championship. (TCU had two losses last season to Oklahoma and Utah. They might be with the three I have mentioned.) It is that Bama, UF and Texas have had to play in pressure packed games, have had to harness their fears and win. With that comes the knowledge that 27-3 against Vandy isn't bad, when there is a road game coming up and you just destroyed your rival. That it is ok to score only 14 in the first half against UCF when you've been putting up 40 against your conference rivals. And it's no problem that you haven't scored more than 30 points in a month when you have a Heisman-quality running back and a throat stomping defense.

It won't always look good, but Alabama, Florida and Texas will continue winning until they face each other. These are teams built to win championships, not look good.