The Florida Gators won their first national championship in baseball on Tuesday night, vanquishing the LSU Tigers in a 6-1 thriller at the College World Series.
With the title, Florida joins an elite group of Division I programs to have captured the most coveted and elusive crowns in men’s collegiate sports.
After 103 seasons, it's FINALLY OURS!#OmahaGatorsWin #GoGators pic.twitter.com/ag5MWiKAjp— Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) June 28, 2017
Florida is either the sixth or fourth Division I program to win NCAA-sanctioned national championships in football, men’s basketball, and baseball, depending on your accounting. The three teams to have unequivocally done so prior to the Gators are Michigan, Ohio State, and UCLA; the fourth and fifth that may have done so — if you count football national titles earned prior to the adoption of standards regarding the Associated Press and coaches’ polls — are California and Stanford.
Joining that select group of some of America’s powerhouse athletic programs — schools that each have at least 30 Division I national titles, and have combined for more than 300 national championships — is an impressive feat for the Gators on its own.
But considering context matters, too — and makes the accomplishment downright staggering.
Florida, after all, is the only school of those six to win all three of those titles in the last 50 years.
Michigan’s last national title in baseball came in 1962; Ohio State’s first and only baseball national title came in 1966, and its lone basketball crown came in 1960. California and Stanford won their football national titles — ones not awarded by the Associated Press or coaches’ poll, and thus not recognized by all as national championships — prior to World War II. And while UCLA has won national titles in two of the three sports in the last 30 years, its football title came way back in 1954.
Put another way: Florida is the only school to win Division I national championships in football, men’s basketball, and baseball since the integration of the United States and/or the Vietnam War.
And Florida, the only SEC school to complete this specific Triple Crown, has won titles in all three of them in just 10 academic years, and just more than 10 calendar years. The Gators added a second consecutive national title in men’s basketball in April 2007, some 10 years and just under three months prior to this Tuesday night, and captured their second BCS National Championship crystal ball in January 2008.
Only Ohio State, which won titles in all three sports from 1960 to 1968, has completed this Triple Crown over a shorter span.
The Gators’ six titles in these three sports — considered the most prominent in college athletics — since 1996 are also tied for the most by any school in those three sports in that span, pipping a duo of schools — Alabama and Connecticut — that won four titles in only one of those three sports ... and tying LSU, which has four national championships in baseball and two in football since then.
But that makes sense, right? Limiting greatness to just one sport just doesn’t fit the Florida Gators, who now have 39 national championships in 14 distinct sports.
That’s not how we do things at the Everything School.