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Florida Football 100 For 100, No. 69: The Gators' Magical Fall Of 1969

That's Carlos Alvarez, a member of that 1969 Florida team.
That's Carlos Alvarez, a member of that 1969 Florida team.

There are 17 days until Florida's September 1 opener with Bowling Green. There are 69 etries left in the 100 For 100 series. So it's four entries per day, plus an extra one somewhere from here on out.

Florida's football tradition is rich, and dates back to 1903. But the tradition of winning is admittedly not quite so long; Gators fans can brag more than anyone else about the last 20 years, but many can't really brag about teams that their parents grew up seeing.

That is, unless their parents were old enough to remember the late 1960s, and especially the 9-1-1 campaign of 1969. That was the first year UF went 9-1 with or without a tie, the first year Florida had only one loss in the SEC, and the first one-loss year for the Gators after 1928, when they went 8-1 in the Southern Conference.

1969 could have been a national championship year, if not for Florida losing to Auburn (see, it's always Auburn) in October while ranked No. 7. Ray Graves' last year as Florida's head coach was a resounding success anyway, with wins over Florida State (in September!) and Miami (in the season finale!) by a 56-22 count, and wins over Tennessee (in a bowl game!) and Houston, the No. 7 team in the country to begin the year, in a season opener.

John Reaves and Carlos Alvarez teamed on offense, and Jack Youngblood led the defense, so there was plenty of talent to come watch. There wasn't enough to beat Georgia, alas, as that game ended in a 13-13 tie and prevented Florida's first 10-win year. But that win over Tennessee was really sweet: Florida was outgained, outrushed, and outpassed by the Vols, but still won 14-13 ... and beat Doug Dickey, who would come home from Tennessee to his alma mater to coach the Gators in 1970.

Do any of you remember Florida's 1969 season? Was it as good as it seems?