The Florida Gators will break out their beloved throwback uniforms and a new faux throwback helmet design for their Homecoming meeting with Vanderbilt on Saturday.
And before the game, they’ll celebrate a slew of Olympians who continued Gator Nation’s athletic greatness in 2021.
The throwbacks being worn was announced Sunday night, with Florida waiting until 7 p.m. to send its tweet still not preventing the sort of dyspepsia you might expect from announcing alternate uniforms will be worn less than 24 hours after a loss to Kentucky that has many Gators fans somewhere on the spectrum of fan response from peeved to steamed.
But Florida is embarking on a new and welcome — and oft-advocated in this space — tradition of wearing throwback uniforms for its annual Homecoming game, with the 2021 return of a 1960s-era design that bears a Jordan Brand logo marking the third consecutive season in which the Gators will don the duds. Florida previously wore them for Homecoming victories over Auburn in 2019 and Missouri in 2020.
The difference this year is pairing them with orange helmets bearing the interlocking UF logo that has served as an alternate logo of sorts for many years. Florida wore white helmet with a 1960s-era logo against Auburn, while it debuted blue helmets for the first time since the hiring of Steve Spurrier for its game against Missouri.
This look will also be one of the first times Florida has played without a helmet stripe in its football history.
Florida will also honor its cadre of Olympians by bringing most of them together to serve as the Honorary Two Bits cheerleaders prior to the game. Bobby Finke, who emerged as one of the American stars of the Olympic Games held earlier this year in Tokyo, is one of just a couple of Gators from that contingent who remains a current University of Florida student, and he gave a great quote, so he gets top billing in Florida’s release — but he’ll be joined on the field by swimmers Caeleb Dressel, Natalie Hinds, and Kieran Smith; hurdler Grant Holloway; sprinter Taylor Manson; baseball player Mark Kolozsvary; and softball player Aubree Munro.
Those eight Olympians all won medals for Team USA in Tokyo, from Manson’s bronze as a preliminary heat runner as part of the American women’s 4x400 meters relay to Dressel’s five golds — leading all Olympians — in various swimming sprints and relays.
Florida will also honor a slew of other Olympians, including one who’s only technically a Gator by virtue of volunteer coaching.
Another 19 Olympians with UF ties will be recognized on the field Saturday, among them Katie Ledecky, the seven-time gold-medalist from Stanford who last month joined the UF swim staff as a volunteer assistant coach.
It seems like a safe bet that Florida is going to wring every drop of reflected glory out of Ledecky’s time in Gainesville that it can.
And given that all of this special stuff is on tap for a game against Vanderbilt, it also seems like the Gators are on board with #VandyRespectWeek.