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Gators Spring Game 58,000

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Gators Spring Game 58,000

I could not believe this, so I thought I would share it. Also look at the period during the Zook tenure.


Is UF excited about Meyer? 58,000 say yes
Published April 10, 2005

UF's Orange and Blue game

GAINESVILLE – There was a massive pep rally Friday night.

A radio station in Jacksonville did a two-hour pregame show Saturday morning.

The first half was nearly over, and there were hundreds of fans still outside standing in line to get tickets. Except there weren't any more tickets. So fans actually bought blank slips of paper to get them into the stadium.

"Unbelievable," longtime University of Florida ticket manager Bill Holloway said of the record 58,498 fanatics who showed up for the Gators' spring scrimmage on a sunny, honey of a Saturday afternoon. "Until today, we've never had a spring game where we didn't print enough tickets."

Marino Casem, the old coach at Southern University, had it right. He once said: "On the East Coast, football is a cultural experience. In the Midwest, it's a form of cannibalism. On the West Coast, it's a tourist attraction. And in the South, football is a religion, and Saturday is the holy day."

And, so, the flocks made the pilgrimage to Gainesville on Saturday to see the unveiling of a young Catholic coach who is named after eight popes. The only thing missing from this coronation was the white papal smoke rising out of UF's Century Tower to announce the new leader of Gator Nation.

There was such giddiness over the unveiling of the Urban Meyer era Saturday, that UF's administration had a chef cooking up made-to-order omelets for the media in the press box. For Ron Zook, I believe we were served stale corn flakes and cold Pop-Tarts.

This is the euphoria football fans should have when a new coach comes aboard, but UF missed out on the joy last time. It should be noted that the second-biggest spring crowd (39,500) came in Zook's first year, but the atmosphere then was entirely different.

When Zook took over, fans congregated to bury their illustrious past. On Saturday, they converged to brim over a glorious future.

So far, Meyer has done everything Zook couldn't do. He has patched and puttied the fissures and factions that formed after Steve Spurrier bolted to the NFL. Here's all you need to know: The Lakeland Gator Club was forced to move a recent meeting into an abandoned airplane hangar to accommodate the nearly 1,000 fans who wanted to hear Meyer speak.

Not only has Meyer aroused the fans, he has rallied the campus behind the team with several initiatives aimed at integrating the players with the student body. As the joke goes, Meyer is trying to kindle a relationship with fraternities. Zook tried to pick a fight with them.

"There's a perception around here that our players are all thugs," Meyer says. "That's not the case at all, and I want our students to know that."

Meyer also wants former UF players to know they are always welcome to return to the green, green grass of the home field and become a part of the program again. He has written personal letters and made phone calls to dozens of Gator greats, and hordes of them watched the game from the sideline Saturday.

Jack Youngblood and John Reaves were there from the Ray Graves era. Danny Wuerffel and Shane Matthews were there from the Steve Spurrier era. Kerwin Bell and Neal Anderson were there from the Galen Hall/Charley Pell era.

"It's nice to feel wanted again," Reaves said.

Anderson, who lives in Gainesville but hasn't been to a UF game in years, said, "This is the first time I've ever really felt welcome around here. In the past, it seemed like there was no effort on the part of the program to reach out to the former players."

When asked why he has opened up his arms and embraced the past, Meyer replied bluntly: "Because it's the right thing to do. When a player invests four or five years of his life at a place, he should be treated special."

If ever Meyer had a question about whether coaching at Florida would be different than his previous jobs at Utah and Bowling Green, it was answered Saturday. The spring game crowd was 12,000 more than the biggest home crowd to ever watch Meyer coach a game. Quite a difference from when Meyer interviewed at Bowling Green and the AD asked him: "So, what are your plans to sell more tickets to the football games?"

Oh, how Gator fans adore their new golden boy right now, but, then again, it's only spring. A few losses this fall, and Meyer will suddenly transform from "the hot, young coach who turned Utah into a national power" into "a flash in the pan who is in over his head."

"You lose four or five games here, and you've got some issues," the new coach says.

Somewhere, the old coach must be shaking his head knowingly.

The shiny, new Urbanator will only have issues if he loses a few games.

The ol' Zooker had issues before he ever coached one.

Mike Bianchi can be reached at [email protected]
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Gators Spring Game 58,000

What a crowd! And he probably allowed them to actually sit down! I've been up there to a scrimmage before and all the spectators had to stand!

He better transform that into on field wins or like the article says…..tick tock,tick,tock.
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Gators Spring Game 58,000

Somehow I had a double post ???
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Gators Spring Game 58,000

your right that it could be a bomb waiting to happen. I think this guy saw what happened to Zook and thats the reason he busted there butt's during drills. The guys like him and he is tuff, but he is big on positively building the guys up that work hard. Thats important if you want guys to work hard for you and being able to communicate what you want.
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Gators Spring Game 58,000

someone should warn the Jupiter campus. We are breaking that attendance number for our spring game! easy.
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Gators Spring Game 58,000

I believe it. Tenn. normally has around 75,000 for there spring game. I was suprised to see that the canes played at Lockhart.
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Gators Spring Game 58,000

I could'nt find any numbers for the UM game
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Gators Spring Game 58,000

judging by the pic in the SS. It looks like they didnt have a big turn out.
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