The Southeastern Conference learned on This Day in Gator History that there was indeed a new sheriff in town. Florida, the SEC team that seemed to always find a way to lose a big road game, found a way to win one and Gator football would never be the same.
Steve Spurrier made his SEC coaching debut in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on this day, Sept. 15, 1990, and the final on the scoreboard read:
FLORIDA 17, ALABAMA 13
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Jimmy Spencer blocked a punt for the deciding score and Will White intercepted three passes as No. 24 Florida defeated Alabama, 17-13, in the Southeastern Conference.
Florida (2-0), coming from a 10-point deficit, handed Alabama its second straight loss under new coach Gene Stallings and gave its coach, Steve Spurrier, his first conference victory.
Spencer’s blocked punt came on the second play of the final period. Richard Fain recovered it in the end zone to give the Gators a 17-10 lead. Alabama’s Philip Doyle later kicked his second field goal for the final margin.
Florida sophomore quarterback Shane Matthews was slow getting started but ended with 21 completions on 37 attempts for 267 yards and one touchdown, a 6-yarder to Terrence Barber. That came after Alabama had taken a 10-0 lead on Gary Hollingsworth’s 15-yard pass to Craig Sanderson and Doyle’s 41-yard field goal.
The Gators would go on from this historical win and post a 6-1 league mark. It was the best in the SEC, the third time since 1984 the Gators had accomplished this. However, Spurrier and the Gators would have to wait one more year before they could hoist the trophy and the power structure of the SEC would never be the same.
The Gators had nine players selected to the 1990 All-SEC first team. They were center Cal Dixon, quarterback Shane Matthews, wide receiver Ernie Mills, tight end Kirk Kirkpatrick, defensive end Huey Richardson, inside linebacker Tim Paulk, strong safety Godfrey Myles, free safety Will White and cornerback Richard Fain.
Richardson and White became the 35th and 36th players in Gator history to earn first-team All America honors.
Matthews followed Emmitt Smith, Jimmy Dubose, Kerwin Bell and Spurrier as Gators who won the SEC Player of The Year honors.
The Gators are 5-1 on games played on This Day in Gator History. The first time in 1951, Florida beat Wyoming in Jacksonville, 13-0. In 1973, Florida beat visiting Kansas State, 21-10. In 1979, host Houston beat the Gators, 14-10. Five years later, the Gators tripled up on visiting Tulane, 63-21. In 2007, the Gators beat Tennessee, 59-20, in The Swamp.