Perhaps no group of Gators other than those on the field in Glendale Monday night enjoyed Florida’s victory over Ohio State more than the Florida Basketball team. Much has been said and written about the unusual chemistry the basketball team enjoys, but there is also a very special bond between those guys and their gridiron counterparts.
The basketball players appreciated the fact that Brandon Siler and Urban Meyer were there when they won it all back in April. The football players embraced the challenge of trying to duplicate what was accomplished on the hardwood. That it worked out the way it did is truly remarkable.
After Tuesday’s basketball win over Arkansas I spoke with Joakim Noah and Taurean Green about their comrades in shoulder pads and how it affected them one night before they had to play an important SEC basketball game. Billy Donovan also comments on what the guys accomplished out in Arizona.
LV: What was Monday night like?
JN: It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through my whole life. I had the best first half of my life (watching the football game). It was great, I had so much fun with all my friends, partying’, not PATRYING, partying with the small “p” not a capital “P”. Then in the second half we decided as a team to be at a hotel and watch it together and stay away from all the distractions, stay away from University. Like I said, when you get between those lines (on the basketball court) there’s no lying. So if we had been out till three or four in the morning it would have been very obvious.
MG: No Gator City?
JN: No Gator city we had to do what we had to do. You don’t know how bad we wanted to be there. Those are moments when people are calling you, so we had to turn off the phone. But we control our destiny. How do we want to go out? So at the end of the day we gotta do what’s more important for the Gator Boyz.
LV: Ever is a long time. You guys and the football guys are the first ones to ever hold the national championship at the same time on the same campus. What does that mean to you?
JN: It’s exciting. Firs first one, the second one, I know what that means to win the national title. There’s no feeling like it. If you ask someone how they feel and they say, ‘I feel so good right now’ that’s an understatement. It’s indescribable the feeling that you get and that “high” it’s so unbelievable. I’m not going to say that I was jealous, because they’re my guys and I really wanted them to win real bad. But I wanted what they had. Even though I had it before, I knew how great that feeling is… it’s better than…..(you remember, don’t you?)
I also spoke with Taurean Green about the Gators’ Monday night win on the gridiron and being dual champs for the first time in the history of college athletics.
LV: What was Monday night like for you guys?
TG: It was great! We were really hyped. We had to stay in a hotel because coach didn’t want us staying on campus, but we were jumping up and down. We were happy for them because they really deserved it.
LV: Brandon Siler made the trip to Indianapolis last year to be a part of it. Did it hurt you guys that you weren’t able to go out there?
TG: Yeah, we were thinking about that because we knew B-Si came up and supported us. We wanted to go out there real bad, but we had a game and couldn’t make it.
LV: You guys can now say you are the first basketball and football teams in the history of college sports to hold the national titles at the same time on the same campus. What does that mean to you?
TG: That’s just the kind of program we have. It just shows you that our athletic program is the best in the country. Jeremy Foley has done a great job of bringing in great coaches and they’re building all the programs into powerhouses.
Billy Donovan on the Football Title
“I think what the football team did (Monday) night can be such a valuable lesson for our team. I think this year’s football team was playing for respect and recognition as we were last year. It was great to see for a team that started the season not even mentioned for the national championship, like us. (It was) a team that everybody thought going through the SEC would be too overwhelming. (It was) a team that nobody really gave a chance to ultimately beat this great Ohio State team. And there are a very good team, they just didn’t have a very good game. I think probably Florida had a lot to do with that and so did themselves.”
We’ll see which team on campus is the next to win it all. Certainly there is enough talent to make a run in several sports, including the basketball teams hoped for repeat. But no matter what happens next, the members of the Gator football and basketball teams can smile knowing they’ve done something that has never been done before. And no one else will ever be able to say that.