Breakdown: 2008 Florida Gators – one of the greatest teams in college football history

Former Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer opined during a football camp last week that his 2008 squad, winners of the 2009 BCS Championship, were the best team in the history of college football.

Though measuring such a claim is near-impossible, Meyer can rightly boast that his 2008 roster and coaching staff were supremely special.

One-fourth of the Gators’ official 120-man roster – which includes walk-ons – has either played a game in the NFL or is currently under contract with a team in the league.

Florida’s roster had 19 players eventually selected in the NFL Draft including six first-round picks, five second-round picks, a third-round pick, two fourth-round picks, four fifth-round picks and a seventh-round pick. Only three of those draft selections are no longer in the league (for a variety of reasons, see table).

Additionally, a total of 11 players signed after the process as undrafted free agents have either played in the NFL or are currently a member of an NFL roster.

UF’s success did not stop at the players on the field.


Though all still in college, half of the 10-member Florida coaching staff that year (including Meyer himself) are currently head coaches at other institutions: Meyer (Ohio State), assistant head coach Steve Addazio (Boston College), assistant head coach Dan McCarney (Marshall), offensive coordinator Dan Mullen (Mississippi State), defensive coordinator Charlie Strong (Texas).

It is tough to argue with the Gators’ success.

UF outscored opponents 611-181 in 2008, averaging nearly 31 points per game more than their adversaries. Florida’s lone blemish, of course, was a one-point loss to then-unranked Ole Miss at home during the fourth week of the 2008 campaign.

Yet even the Gators’ 1996 national title-winning team can compete with those numbers. That Florida squad also scored 611 points but did so in 13 games while allowing 221, averaging 30 more points per game. UF also lost a close game in 1996 but did so by three points to No. 2 Florida State, which it demolished just over a month later by 32 points to capture the national championship.

Whether 2008 Florida is the best team in college football history is of little matter in the long run. There is plenty of competition for that non-existent crown – Nebraska (1971, 1995), Miami (2001), USC (1972), Alabama (1961) and Florida State (1999).

Anyone that watched the Gators that year knows the team was great – one of the greatest – and has the hardware, statistics and professional success to prove it.

PlayerRoundPlayed?Under Contract?
QB Cam Newton^1 (1)YesYes
CB Joe Haden1 (7)YesYes
C Mike Pouncey1 (15)YesYes
C Maurkice Pouncey1 (18)YesYes
WR Percy Harvin1 (22)YesYes
QB Tim Tebow1 (25)YesNo
LB Jermaine Cunningham2YesYes
DE Carlos Dunlap2YesYes
OT Marcus Gilbert2YesYes
CB Janoris Jenkins~2YesYes
LB Brandon Spikes2YesYes
S Major Wright3YesYes
TE Aaron Hernandez`4YesNo
WR Louis Murphy4YesYes
S Ahmad Black5YesNo
WR Riley Cooper5YesYes
RB Chris Rainey5YesYes
K Caleb Sturgis5YesYes
OL Maurice Hurt7YesYes
RB Jeff Demps%UDFAYesYes
WR David NelsonUDFAYesYes
WR Deonte ThompsonUDFAYesYes
DE Justin TrattouUDFAYesYes
RB Brandon JamesUDFAYesNo
P Chas HenryUDFAYesNo
S Will HillUDFAYesNo
OT Phil TrautweinUDFAYesNo
WR Frankie HammondUDFANoYes
LB Lerentee McCray*UDFANoYes
OL Matt Patchan-UDFANoYes

^ Newton transferred to Blinn College then Auburn before being drafted.
~ Jenkins transferred to North Alabama before being drafted.
` Hernandez would still be playing in the league if not for his murder charge.
% Demps would have been drafted but told teams he wanted to run track and compete in the 2012 London Olympics. He was signed after the games were over.
* McCray has not played yet due to injury.
- Patchan transferred to Boston College before being signed. He is a rookie.

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14 Responses to “Breakdown: 2008 Florida Gators – one of the greatest teams in college football history”

  1. gatorboi352 says:

    Could you imagine if Cam hadn’t stolen that laptop/been kicked off the team? This football program would be a whole different story IMO.

  2. G2 says:

    I’ve often thought the same thing. Even with the talent drop off after Tebow, look what he did at Auburn with that team. Would have been a bama like run or better. Guess Urban would have stuck it out with 3-4 NC’s under his belt!

  3. Gator John says:

    No. The run ended with the departure of Dan Mullen, and no one, not even Cam Newton would have overcome the lack of offensive coaching after that.

  4. SW FL Joe says:

    To think we went from “one of the best of all time” to a punchline on late night tv all in just 5 years. Thanks Will.

    • gatorboi352 says:

      Yep, pretty much this.

    • 305Gator says:

      Not so fast Joey, the fact is that the program declined during Meyer’s tenure. Seems like after the loss to Bama in the ship game he didn’t want to coach in the SEC any more. He made up the sickness story to get out of town and save face and next thing you know he feels a lot better and is going to OSU. Bunch of B.S. Left the program in shambles with a bunch of undisciplined players with an entitlement mentality.
      You,and boi are quick to trash Coach Mus all the while choosing to forget history and fact. Symptoms of fair weather fandom. We are better off without Meyer, a quitter and a liar.
      Go gators!

      • G2 says:

        I agree, Urb’s should get more credit for the downturn. Didn’t leave us with much to work with. Couple of injuries here and there and we suck. Hard to stop that kind of momentum.
        Aside from bama taking charge, fsu was also recruiting well so yea, it was time for him to abandon ship while he could with some legacy intact.

      • gatorboi352 says:

        You throw around phrases like ” choosing to forget history and fact” but state yourself that “Seems like after the loss to Bama in the ship game he didn’t want to coach in the SEC any more. He made up the sickness story to get out of town and save face ”

        Neither of which are fact.

  5. SW FL Joe says:

    While Meyer didn’t do is any favors when he left, there was still enough to go 11-2 with a BCS bowl

  6. Go Gata! says:

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion in the Urbs vs Muschamp debate, and here’s mine. It’s not even close. When it was announced that Urban Meyer would be our new coach there was a palpable buzz on campus. He came into town and immediately let it be known that we were the #1 team in Florida, refusing to call FSU by name. Beating rivals was his mantra and he reestablished our dominating ways in the Swamp.

    While there was a step off in talent his last year, I would be hard pressed to say he left the cupboards empty. While Muschamp is a likeable guy, I find it hard to buy into his “blue collar” approach, essentially saying all games are equally important. Rivalry in college football is what makes this sport so amazing. To say that there is no added incentive to beat Tenn, UGA, or FSU drives me nuts.

    Here’s hoping Roper can rescue our offense and team morale. But if not, I for one look forward to the introduction of our next head coach.

Leave a Reply | Register | Login


+ 6 = fifteen