As I wake up this morning a little bleary eyed from staying up to watch the dreadfully boring BCS Championship last night, I am reminded of my own experiences surrounding this game. I am a huge fan of the Florida Gators, and in 2006 and 2008 we took home the pretty crystal ball that Nick Saban slept with last night. Travel played an unexpected role in watching my Gators play for the college football national championship; taking me to the game in one year, while in the other causing me to miss it altogether.
In 2006 the Gators had a good team, but one that rarely entered into conversations regarding the national championship. We had a relatively new coach named Urban Meyer, our quarterback was Chris Leak (Hear of him?), and a kid named Tim Tebow was a freshman that only knew how to run the ball (Sound familiar?). The Gators made their way through the season with only one loss against Auburn, and after winning the SEC Championship were slated to play Ohio State in the BCS finale.
|On the field at The Swamp|
While things were going well for my team, simultaneously 2006 was also pretty good year for me personally. The reason was pretty simple....I met a girl. As a test of our young relationship, I had planned a trip for us to Paris and Barcelona, and booked our departure for the coming January. We spent a few months planning our first big adventure together, but in early December I learned just how lousy of a job I had done. Our departure date was January 8th.....The same day as the BCS Championship.
Obviously the trip took precedence, and I will maintain till the day I die that I never once considered rescheduling our departure. Needless to say, however, I was a jittery nervous wreck the entire flight across the pond. Unfortunately, in-flight TVs on the seats and WiFi on board weren't quite mainstream, and I had to spend the next 10 hours completely in the dark. We arrived in Paris, hopped a cab to our hotel, and before we even checked-in I found their computer to learn the score....41-14...Gators. This was going to be a great trip...
|A Beautiful First Day in Paris|
Fast forward two years and the Gators once again found themselves playing for a national championship, and I made certain to keep my January calendar clear. Better yet, the game was just a few short hours away in Miami, which caused a bit of a dilemma for me. To go or not to go..that was the question. The answer came when I got a call from my brother one day...
"Dude...We have to go."
|We Like to Arrive Early...|
By this point, that girl I took to Paris was my new wife, and she was more than supportive in the decision to go to the game without her. Of course, by "more than supportive" I mean "I'm still buying her pretty things to make up for it." After a few days of searching, I scored my brother and I two tickets, booked us a room at a nearby La Quinta, and originated the "Tebow" by praying that the money would not be wasted.
Game day arrived and my brother and I set off for Miami. We checked into what might have been the worst hotel either of us has stayed, and in an effort to avoid catching a virus we immediately left for lunch at Hard Rock. We arrived at the stadium a few hours early, made our way to our seats, and watched the seconds tick away until finally, it was game time. In what might have been the greatest moment of both our lives (except our weddings of course), the Gators took the field in goose-bump inducing fashion..
The game was tied at halftime, and while my brother and I were both experiencing acute hypertension, we were all too familiar with the legend of Tim Tebow. Yes, it was around even back then, and I think we both knew there was no way we were walking out in defeat. After a thrilling second half, it wasn't until the final minutes of the game that oxygen would once again enter our bloodstream...24-14...Gators.
|Best Picture Ever...|
I don't know if I'll ever return to a BCS Championship, but the dedicated fan in me believes the Gators will most certainly be back. No matter how many times that happens - and I hope it is a lot - I will always remember the adventures of 2006 and 2008. And trust me, I'll never again plan a trans-Atlantic flight for the second Monday in January.
~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~