Gators prove the SEC is the best in the land

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2007

When Ohio State star Ted Ginn Jr. scored on the opening kickoff of Monday night's BCS Championship Game, you thought the game was over.

When Florida scored on the opening play of the second quarter, you knew the game was over.

Although Ohio State answered in demanding fashion on the next possession when Antonio Pittman took the ball in from 17 yards out, the Gators proved all season and all night that they were the best team in the nation and showed it by downing the Buckeyes, 42-14.

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After just one quarter of play, the Buckeyes had just 11 total yards of offense, which is just one yard shy of the same number of wins each team had entering Monday night's championship game.

Except the Gators played a 12-game schedule, plus a conference championship game.

Many say the Buckeyes' last game against the Michigan Wolverines was a conference championship game, but that just happened to be by chance, not because the conference officials had the gal to line up the best two teams in the Big 10 and let them see, on the field, who is the best.

Monday night's domination by the Gators was extremely reminiscent of another SEC team that entered a national title game with little-to-no respect.

That SEC team also played a team from a conference without a championship game.

That SEC team also faced a team with a Heisman trophy winner that overshadowed all the amazing things the SEC team had been able to accomplish on defense.

That SEC team, the Alabama Crimson Tide, decimated the Miami Hurricanes and Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torreta in dominating fashion just as Urban Meyer's stingy Gator defense controlled Troy Smith and the Buckeye offense for the first title in Gainesville in a decade.

The wind taken out of the Buckeye sail happened early when Ginn Jr. was injured in the celebration pile following his 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and was taken to the locker room with and injured foot, but the wind blown into the Gator sail was performed by, no pun intended, a Leak.

Chris Leak, the Gator quarterback criticized for many years, set several Gator records this season and closed out his career as a champion.

Reminiscent of Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell, Leak was questioned early and often but endured many offensive coordinators and went out on top, at his best, in his senior season.

The Gators end the 2006 season as the national champion, although not perfect.

Just as the 2003 LSU squad coached by Nick Saban did, the Gators suffered a single loss during the championship campaign.

The Gators fell to Auburn on an electric night on the The Plains, although Urban Meyer's squad did not give up a single offensive touchdown.

Nick Saban's team also faltered one time during their championship campaign, on an electric night in SeptemberŠ to the Gators.

In the SEC, it is almost impossible to run the table with a 12-game schedule and a championship game against the best competition in the world.

What's more impossible to learn is that in a week where coaches like Steve Spurrier, Phil Fulmer, Tommy Tuberville and Mark Richt took the backseat to Nick Saban returning to the league, it is disheartening to learn that none of them are the best.

For it is the Urban Myth that has become the Urban Legend of SEC lore.

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor.

You can contact him by e-mailing or by calling 382-3111 ext. 122.