It's Great to Be a Florida Gator
The school's colors are bright orange and blue, the team plays in a field known as the swamp, and tonight the University Florida Gators face the Ohio State Buckeyes, in the Fiesta Bowl for the BCS National Championship game.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into back in 1995 (it doesn't seem that long ago) when I transferred from a SF Bay Area community college to the University of Florida to continue my broadcasting studies. I still have the ticket stub from the first game I attended with my father when we visited the school. It was the Steve Spurrier era, UF played 'Ole Miss, and beat up on 'em. College football is different in the south, the spirit is off the meter, and folks take it seriously.
In 1996, the Gators won the football National Championship, then ten years later (2006), the basketball team won its first NCAA Championship. By this time, I was an experienced news reporter at WTVT-TV (Fox 13, Tampa). When I had the opportunity to return to Gainesville to cover the fans, I didn't hesitate. To top it off the station sent me with my road dog Rod Finch. He's my best friend in the news business.
So there's a story behind this video I'm posting. Florida of course won the basketball championship last year, and Rod and I were in the streets of University Avenue, covering the 10-thousand fans who flooded the streets. It was fun, but it was work, and the next morning we had an 7 and 8 o'clock live shot shot. After the police broke up the party around 2 a.m. we decided to grab something to eat, and by the time we returned to the hotel to sleep it was around 4 a.m. We both put in for a wake up call, but it never happened. At about 6:30, I hear my cell phone ringing, it's the satellite truck operator. We overslept. I ran up the hallway knock on Rod's hotel room door, we rush downstairs, and barely made our first hit. I still had the sleep in my eyes for the 8 o'clock hit. It became a legendary moment at my old station, because it was "off da chain." Helpfully, it will be off da chain tonight too. Go Gators.