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The Florida Gators Christmas list for 2013

After you're done unwrapping your presents, consider this modest list of presents Gator Nation can hope for in 2013.


Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas? Good. While you're trying to avoid your family and/or putting on an ugly sweater for the rest of the day, consider these seven realistic gifts Florida fans might get in 2013.

A dominant, respected football team

Florida still hasn't gotten back to the mountaintop it descended from after 2009, Tim Tebow's final season, and the Gators often seem to be still playing in the shadows of Tebow and Urban Meyer. 2013 could change all that, especially if Florida dominates the Sugar Bowl: The Gators will likely have a much more balanced offense in 2013, and will lose talented players on defense with far more depth behind them than usual. And with Georgia losing much of its defense, South Carolina losing a lot of offense, and Tennessee down, Florida should have a chance to ensure a trip to the SEC Championship Game for the first time since 2009.

A Final Four trip for Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy

I'm not ready to expect Florida to win the NCAA Tournament, and I doubt Billy Donovan is, either, but Florida can do the work necessary to get a No. 1 or No. 2 seed and pave the road to the Final Four. And that Final Four's in Atlanta, where Florida could be effectively the hometown team again. So, yeah, I want this.

#Flax sows a championship seed

Florida's lacrosse team should be the nation's best this year, with a ton of talented seniors leading a group that got hosed in a national semifinal game against Syracuse last year. The Gators still need to get past Northwestern in American Lacrosse Conference play, and see Syracuse in a huge regular season matchup, but they have every reason to play angry and hoist a title. I hope they do.

Gymnastics avenges 2012

Florida's gymnastics team fell agonizingly short of its first national championship in the Super Six in 2012, and returns nearly every major contributor from that squad. The Gators will be in perhaps their best position ever in 2013, and it's reasonable to consider an NCAA title the bar they need to clear.

Women's basketball goes dancing again

Florida's last consecutive trips to the Women's NCAA Tournament came in 2001 and 2002, but the Gators look primed to get back to the Ginger Rogers Dance ("Backwards ... and in high heels!") in 2013, despite having one senior on their roster. Florida getting to back-to-back tourneys would be a great sign for a program that Amanda Butler appears to have on an upward trajectory.

Baseball and softball bounce back

Florida baseball lost about as much talent to the MLB Draft and graduation as a college baseball team can lose, but Kevin O'Sullivan's recruiting and a staff led by Jonathon Crawford and Karsten Whitson should be able to keep the Gators in the NCAA Tournament hunt at least. And softball's black eye at the end of the 2012 season will be all but forgotten if Hannah Rogers helps Florida back to Oklahoma City for the Women's College World Series.

A three-peat in women's tennis

Florida's women have won back-to-back national titles on the outdoor court with a net and lost just Jo Mather from the 2012 outfit. Lauren Embree and Allie Will should be able to put Florida in the championship mix once again.

Florida gets two more national championships — at least

I think the Gators' best chances at titles come in lacrosse, gymnastics, and women's tennis, but swimming and diving (especially men's) and track (with four shots between men's and women's indoor and outdoor championships) will have very good chances, too. And men's basketball is in the running for its third. The last time Florida didn't win two national titles in an academic year was 2009; it's happened four times for the Gators in the seven years since 2006's football-men's basketball double.

Recruiting goes well — and happy returns happen

There are too many individual recruiting battles to be won for me to list a bunch more (and I think Florida got its most important football recruit for 2014 already in Will Grier), but if Florida can keep momentum going, it'll be fine. And if Matt Elam and/or Patric Young return for their senior seasons to wreck shop a little more, Florida could be aiming for dual national titles again in 2013-14.