I was born in March 1990, just under three months after Steve Spurrier was hired by Florida on New Year's Eve in 1989. And so I was alive for the greatest stretch of football in Gators history — and missed none of it.
For my first 23 Florida seasons on Earth, the Gators never had a losing season — they never had a losing record, in fact. I used this stat a few times in 2011 and again in 2013, but after losing their opener in 1989, the Gators hadn't been under .500 at any point in a season until falling to 4-5 in 2013, and had only seriously threatened to get onto the wrong side of the ledger in 20031, 2004, and 2011.
The Gators simply weren't losers very often, and certainly weren't "losers."
2013 obviously changed all that. No matter how much explanation or excusing is done, the fact of Florida's failure to turn in a winning season is immutable, and painful. I'd like to never have another season like Florida's 2013 ever again.
But here's the thing: Florida had never had a season like that before in my lifetime. Never anything close, really. I have 23 years of compelling evidence that Florida is usually better — a lot better — than it was in 2013.
And there are people 10 years older than me who came into 2013 with the same "I've never seen my Gators have a losing season" distinction I had. 33 years between anything is a long time: It's the span between Encke's Comet making close transits to Earth, the time between being born and being just on the outskirts of being middle-aged, the distance between Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama being President.
I don't know if Florida will go another 33 or 23 years between losing seasons. I think it's more likely that it won't, really, but I can't know; I just have to hope. And so I will.
I'll also appreciate how great that streak really was.
Sitting at 3-3 in 2003, Florida beat eventual national champion LSU 19-7 in Tiger Stadium, because Ron Zook's sorcery was weird.