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Thursday, January 27, 2022
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Recently, Tim Tebow was named to the Gators Football Ring of Honor, the highest achievement that a player or coach at the university can reach. For one to merit consideration for induction into the Ring of Honor, the individual must be five years removed from UF and must be in good standing with the institution.

 

Furthermore, it has to meet a certain criteria listed by the university, some of which reads,

“Coaches with UF National Championships” or “Coaches with at least three UF SEC Championships.”

If inducted into the Ring of Honor, the person receives his name on a giant plaque at the top of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Interestingly enough, one name is missing from the Ring, and he’s the greatest UF football coach ever.

Not Steve Spurrier, not Doug Dickey, not Ray Graves, but Urban Meyer.

Now listen, I love Steve Spurrier. He’s the Head Ball Coach, the one that brought UF its first title, and he made football fun for the Gators. I think he’s the second-best coach in school history, and I don’t think the margin between him and third place is even close.

But this isn’t about ole Steve.

This is about Urban.

How can you have Steve Spurrier in the Ring and not Meyer? Let’s do a comparison of the two legends.

Let’s start with championships. Advantage, Meyer. He had two at Florida and has three overall in his career of 17 seasons. Spurrier, in 26 years, only won one title.

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Next, BCS Bowl or College Football Playoff wins. Again, advantage Meyer with a whopping eight wins over Spurrier’s total of five.

I mean, Meyer took Utah to a 12-0 record and a Fiesta Bowl win in 2004. Utah! The Utes! Utah is not supposed to be winning BCS bowl games, yet they did under Meyer in just his second season… with Alex Smith, who honestly wasn’t really all that spectacular until Meyer showed up.

Prior to Florida, Spurrier never experienced such a degree of success.

He was indeed a legend once he stepped on that famed Gainesville campus, though. The 1996 title win was one of the greatest teams UF has ever put together. Yet, it can't touch the teams of 2006 and 2008 (especially 2008).

That’s not to take anything away from the ‘96 roster, the ‘08 roster was simply one of the greatest football teams ever assembled.

If you look back to 1996, the only five names that really pop off the page are Danny Wuerffel, Fred Taylor, Ike Hilliard, Jevon Kearse and Jeff Mitchell.

Let’s look at the 2008 team.

Just looking through the players that wore numbers one through five and you have four players that you should instantly recognize: Percy Harvin, Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey, Joe Haden.

Let’s keep going because we can. Jaye Howard, Cornelius Ingram, Carlos Dunlap, Will Hill, Riley Cooper, CAM NEWTON, Major Wright, Brandon James (who, might I add, is the greatest returner in UF history), Janoris Jenkins, Brandon Spikes, the Pouncey twins and Marcus Gilbert all were on that team at once. Even Aaron Hernandez, as dreadful as his story is, had an illustrious college career.

Oh yeah, there was this other guy. He goes by the name of Tim Tebow if you haven't heard of him. He was pretty good. He won a Heisman and a Maxwell Award or two.

That 2008 team was just downright nasty, and if it lined up against the 1996 boys, it would be a bloodbath in favor of ‘08. Again, all love to the ‘96 team, an incredibly fun team to watch, but 2008 wins by the eye test.

Finally, the most telling reason that Meyer is a better coach is longevity. Meyer has mastered how to play today’s college football style - the spread offense. Spurrier’s Fun ‘n’ Gun offense is similar to the spread, but different enough to where he hasn’t had overwhelming success since he ended his failed NFL stint.

In his 10-and-a-half seasons with South Carolina (2005-15), Spurrier went 86-49 (44-40 SEC), never made a BCS bowl game (didn’t coach during CFP era) and never won a conference title.

For comparison, since leaving Florida and eventually joining Ohio State, Meyer is 73-8 (47-3 Big Ten), has made a BCS bowl or a CFP game every single season, won a national title and has been to the Big Ten conference title every single year.

Yes, Meyer left UF under bad circumstances - there’s a reason they call him “Urban Liar” in Gainesville.

But enough time has gone by. Instead of hating Meyer for the way he left, let’s instead respect him and appreciate him for what he is: the greatest Florida football coach of all time. He brought you two titles, Gator fans.

It’s time to forgive Urban Meyer.

It’s time to induct him into the Ring of Honor.

 

Chris O’Brien is a sports writer. You can follow him on Twitter @THEChrisOB and contact him at cobrien@alligator.org.

 

 

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