College Football: Gator football still celebrating

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 14, 2007

Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel, Bowl Championship Series chairman Mike Slive and more than 50,000 fans were on hand Saturday to celebrate Florida’s second national title.

Wuerffel, the 1996 Heisman winner who led the Gators to their first title that same season, presented the title game’s offensive most valuable player trophy to quarterback Chris Leak.

“It was probably the most dominating football game I’ve every seen,” said Wuerffel, who led the Gators to a 52-20 victory against Florida State in the 1997 Sugar Bowl. “I’ve seen a lot of dominating games. I’ve been in a few — just ask Florida State.”

Leak, often criticized during his four years, had to compose himself before speaking to the crowd.

“I really kind of hit me out there, being around my teammates one last time,” Leak said. “It was a great feeling. I think when it’s really going to hit me is when I go off and after a couple years when I come back and I still see 2006 national champs on that stadium wall. That’s going to mean a lot to me, all the sacrifice and hard work that myself, my coaches, my teammates, my family put in.”

Slive presented the Gators with the BCS national title trophy, noting that the Gators spent all season celebrating 100 years of football and honored the 1996 team.

Florida coach Urban Meyer introduced each of his seniors and unveiled a lasting reminder of the winning season. A wall inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium painted with the team’s accomplishments now includes the 2006 Southeastern Conference championship and 2006 national championship.

Meyer, who spent the last two years working in former coach Steve Spurrier’s shadow, acknowledged that he has somewhat cast his own in Gainesville and on the program.

“There’s another one,” Meyer said. “National championships, obviously when you have two in a 100-year history of a very excellent program, that tells you how elite status you are. That was a 12-year run (for Spurrier). It’s going to take a lot longer than a two-year run.” Consistency is the thing that we’re looking to have.”