Well folks, as a Florida graduate and somebody who has covered the program as a journalist, it goes without saying that Saturday's finale obviously is one of the top moments in Florida football history.
I moved to Florida as a high school junior in 1991 and my father was the sales manager for a Bull Gator (which means he was a big donor) and all we heard about was this guy named Steve Spurrier. Eventually I got to spend some time around the Old Ball Coach, and have seen some crazy Gator moments.
Some of these moments I saw from the stands as a student, others as a journalist, others while watching on TV at home. While older plays like Spurrier's long winning field goal in the 1960s should probably make this chart, I'm going to go with what I know — which happens to coincide with when Spurrier built the Gator machine starting in 1990.
And no … this list doesn't include any Tim Tebow moments because frankly, the games usually weren't that close when he was in Gainesville.
One final note … is it strange that three of these key plays went for 63 yards?
Here are the five greatest Florida football finishes since Spurrier took over. If I missed any, let me know in the comments below.[divider]
5. Jabar Gaffney's TD Catch at Rocky Top (2000)
I was sitting about 30 yards away from Jabar in the end zone when he made this catch back in 2000. Jesse Palmer was the sometimes hot, sometimes not part-time quarterback for the Gators from 1997 to 2000, but on this game-winning drive against Tennessee, he directed the Gators 91 yards to win the game 27-23.
The crowd of 109,000 fans went ballistic because it appeared Gaffney didn't have possession of the ball long enough before it came out of his hands in the end zone. With TV replay, who knows if this TD would stand, but we left Neyland Stadium watching our backs as we crossed the train tracks over the Tennessee River back to the tailgating area.
Yes, there were threats. Probably because of the ugly blue wig my brother was wearing. PS — Notice the Tennessee trend already forming here? [divider]
4. Jarvis Moss' Blocked Field Goal (2006)
If this play doesn't happen, the 2006 national title wouldn't have happened for Urban Meyer and the Gators. Go figure it came at the expense of Spurrier, who had just left for South Carolina.
It ended up 17-16 Florida and the Gators went on to beat Florida State, capture the SEC and beat Ohio State in the national championship game. But none of it would have happened if South Carolina had made this field goal.
Chris Leak finally won the national title he had guaranteed in 2003 as a freshman, and he finally allowed himself to date (that was another promise, though we're pretty sure he broke the promise a tad bit earlier in his Gator career).
3. Will Grier Finds Antonio Calloway On 4th-and-14 (2015)
Florida's offense hasn't exactly been on fire for much of this decade, so when the Gators got a half-season taste of what Grier could do, fans ate it up.
I actually spent a few days around Will when he was a senior in high school in Charlotte, N.C. as a writer for PARADE Magazine and saw first hand what this calm, cool and collected kid was capable of. It was no surprise at all that he was effective, and on this play he showed his poise, found Calloway for a 63-yard touchdown and a 28-27 win.
Tennessee fans went home shaking their heads — again. Now Grier is doing this at West Virginia, but that's another story.
2. Feleipe Franks' First Game In The Swamp (2017)
I've been aware of Franks for many years, thanks to his uber-early commitment to LSU back in the Les Miles days. Seeing as though he's a Florida kid, I was always curious why Florida State (which is within a stone's throw from his house) or Florida couldn't wrestle this strong-armed, nice kid away from the Tigers in Louisiana.
Well, eventually that's exactly what happened. Then on Saturday we all saw what the hype was all about.
When Franks committed to LSU, I called his high school coach at Wakulla HS, Scott Klees — who I've known for 15 years. Scott told me this kid had "it" to go along with a cannon for an arm. That cannon was evident Saturday night when he threw a 63-yard bomb into the endzone and Tyrie Cleveland came down with it with no time remaining to beat Tennessee 26-20.
Klees also told me Franks has a loveable personality that Gator fans may embrace like Tebow and Wuerffel. Keep your eye on him.
1. Doug Johnson to Jacquez Green Sets Up Fred Taylor's game-winner (1997)
Am I biased? You bet your kitten kaboodle I am (censored).
I lived next door to Fred Taylor before he was a millionaire, back when he ate Ramen. Jacquez lived across the parking lot in the other building. Two great guys who both prospered in the NFL the very next year. But for this play, they became Florida State's worst nightmare.
See, Bobby Bowden's crew came in as the undefeated No. 1 team in the nation, while Florida was 8-2 and out of contention for everything. The only saving grace would be to ruin the 'Noles' year. And once Sebastian Janikowski Gator Chomped at the Florida student section after putting FSU back on top with about a minute left, it looked like an 8-3 regular season and a trip to the DotNyet Bowl in Toledo was Florida's destiny.
Then Doug Johnson hit Quezzie (as Spurrier liked to call Jacquez) for 63 yards and Fred Taylor punched it in the end zone just two plays later to effectively win the game.
I have been to concerts and stood on tarmacs of airports that weren't as loud as The Swamp was that November night in 1997. I have tried to describe it to people and it's tough to explain. For the next 72 hours, my ears rang and I don't even wear a hearing aid (yet).
It was the craziest thing I ever witnessed and still is, and why we as students didn't rush the field remains a mystery — regardless of the security that guarded the perimeter. Those goalposts should have been sitting behind our apartment that night.