Remembering those strange news days on Gator Country

Columbus Day 2015 will be remembered as one of those news days, where the Florida Gators news just seemed to come from left field and dominated the news day all across Gatorland and beyond.

Then, without warning, it happened again.

I have been hanging around Gator Country for fifteen years now and it seems that when it is least expected the eyes of the sports world turn “their lonely eyes” toward Gator Nation and suddenly, be it good or bad, the Florida Gators are the news.

In no certain order.

Steve Spurrier resigns from the Florida Gators

For me, it was the perfect time to turn my computer in for some upgrades. The Florida Gators football season had just concluded and doing away with the computer for a “few days” would give me some rest to do some other things, beside Gator Country.

Not five minutes after I had dropped it off I stopped at a convenience store in Waycross and was getting a drink and something unhealthy to eat when one of the local high school fans said “it’s great ain’t it”, and I calmly said whats that? He said “Spurrier quit”. I mumbled something and went on my way, quickly.

I was able to pick up one of the sports talk radio stations out of Jacksonville as long as I stayed in my car. I even rode by the computer place to get my CPU back, but it had already gone under the tools of the surgeon so I was relegated to following the biggest Gators news story since the invention of the internet from the local library.

On the second day, I went back to the computer shop and plopped down a “front of the line” fee and got my CPU back on the third day.

That was a new time for Gator Country and dealing with breaking news. We were having to learn about following jet airplanes, rumors, done deals and more done deals.

Perhaps because we were all sort of internet virgins at the time, the tone and the handling of such things was much more civil at the time.

However, there was nothing that could have prepared us for the thirty-four months of Coach Ron Zook. I do not mean that as a slam on Zook, it is just what the internet would become, a place not only to vent, but to display open anger and hostility, which Gator Country did not know much about in those first five years of existence.

Billy Donovan, here today, gone tomorrow, here the following day

After Spurrier left everyone at Gator Country knew there was no one who could not be hired away from here. While the yearly rumors of Billy’s departure became the norm following a basketball season we were all still caught a little off guard when he did resign to go to the Orlando Magic.

One thing that did become evident in that period of time, bad news for the Florida Gators, often meant good business for Gator Country. Of course this was before social media had taken off to the extent it is now and folks relied on the fan sites to get their news and so once again was the place to be for the entire Billy D saga.

That period did bring most all of to the realization that there would probably be a time when Coach Donovan would leave the Gators and so when it happened earlier this year it was not the devastating blow emotionally it was before. Still, when the Gators take the court this season there will be a spot there that will make the eyes blink a little faster, fighting back a tear that a sad moment caused by a fond memory evokes.

Game threads

With our own RayGator building the best game threads known to the sports world we have all come to take these marvels for granted, but for me, I think I knew that the fan sites would always have a place in sports with our game threads. I am not even thinking of football right now either.

I wish I could remember the details, but that sort of thing fades when the years pass, but it was a tennis thread and I think it was against Stanford back when we were still at Scout. My memory could be off, but that news of the day was this extraordinary national title match that grew to over 100 pages and tens of thousands of page views. It was an epic event that hundreds of our members followed an event by reading updates as soon as they could get a refresh of their page.

Soon after it was baseball threads with the Miami Hurricanes in the post season and now softball. A way that even fifteen years ago we would not have dreamed we would follow sports.

I remember the first time I logged in on I thought, who would want to sit and post about sports all day. Here I am, 330,000 posts later still wondering that….

Tim Tebow, Reggie Nelson and CJ Spiller

I cannot think of any bigger stories of athletes that we have had since I have been here. One player, Tebow, we got the first time around, one, Nelson, it seemed like we had to wait forever to get, then finally, Spiller, is still coming, as soon as things work out.

The double whammy of Columbus Day 2015

Sunday night into Monday I stayed up all night doing various things knowing I would catch me a nap around 11 am…I am just glad I did not turn my computer in for repairs.

I did learn something yesterday. While I love to write and I realize I am sort of a hack at that, but I did learn I will never be a reporter. I don’t have the instincts.

Early yesterday (Monday 9:19 am) I got the press release newsletter stating the press conference would be delayed and I did not give it a second thought. That is just me.

However when Nick announced it on Gator Country folks with an instinct (and or paranoia) immediately got suspicious and within the hour the story was out and the news would be all over the internet shortly.

My nap was also gone.

I stayed with it until 5:00 which meant I was up for 23 hours when I finally laid down knowing the worst had passed.

However, in the strangest news day I can remember at GC, I woke up to the news that Ole’ Ball Coach had stepped down.

So once again—“there will be a spot there that will make the eyes blink a little faster, fighting back a tear that a sad moment caused by a fond memory evoked.”

Still we can know, that God is still smiling on the Gators because who would want to be anywhere else?