Image Credit: USA Today
Seven-and-a-half years ago was the culmination of the greatest set of athletic achievements in Florida Gators history and one of the most successful stretches any program has achieved nationwide, well, ever.
When Florida football won the 2009 BCS Championship Game on Jan. 8, it completed a momentous set of achievements for the Gators with two football national titles to go along with two basketball national titles (back-to-back, mind you) in a span of three athletic seasons.
When basketball won the 2007 NCAA Tournament on April 2, it became the first program since Duke (1991-92) to go back-to-back in the tourney and made the Gators the first program in NCAA history to be the reigning, defending champions in football and basketball simultaneously.
The set of four victories elevated athletic director Jeremy Foley, who is retiring in October after 25 years at his post and 40 years with the university, into the best-in-the-nation conversation. For some, it was not even a conversation but rather a foregone conclusion.
What happened next is likely known by few but was recounted recently by Gridiron Now‘s Buddy Martin, whose close relationship with the Florida program and its coaches goes back decades.
Foley, head football coach Urban Meyer and head basketball coach Billy Donovan gathered their families and threw a party to celebrate Florida’s unprecedented success. There were four shiny special guests in attendance.
“Not many people know this story. It’s such a time warp. … Finally, just the three families got together and we were just going to privately celebrate those championships. I went over to Billy’s house and on his pool table were the four championship trophies. And we just sat there staring and just going, ‘Holy Cow!’” Meyer recounted to Martin.
One can only imagine a night free of recruiting texts, facility demands and worries about players getting in trouble with those four trophies glimmering on Donovan’s orange-and-blue pool table. And hell, maybe an impromptu basketball game (see above) broke out.