Pay no attention to media: Gators are good, but not best of all time

Published 7:49 am Thursday, April 5, 2007

Far too often, we in the sports media are a bit too quick to label something as the best ever.

Listening to sports radio, reading newspapers and watching ESPN will show that to be the case yet again in the past few days with the Florida Gators.

Since the Gators’ national championship win over Ohio State Monday, the question on many in the sports media’s minds has been “Is this team the best ever?”

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Well, no.

Their accomplishments are certainly up there with anyone, and no one can deny that. Repeating in any sport — but especially college football or basketball — is incredibly difficult, and the fact they did it with the same starting five is even more impressive.

However, even when you take away many of those unbelievable UCLA teams of the 60s and 70s, there are numerous teams the Gators don’t match up well with.

Take the 1996 Kentucky team, for example. That team featured Ron Mercer, Tony Delk, Antoine Walker and a number of other future NBA stars. In fact, that was probably the best college team anyone born since 1990 or so will ever see.

The UNLV teams of the early 90s with Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Anderson Hunt and Greg Anthony were also better than this Gators team.

The 1999 Connecticut (Richard Hamilton, Khalid El-Amin, Jake Voskuhl) team, as well as the Duke (Elton Brand, Shane Battier, Corey Maggette, Trajan Langdon) team they beat for the championship that season, would likely school Florida. The 2001 Duke (Battier, Carlos Boozer, Jason Williams, Mike Dunleavy Jr.) and 2005 North Carolina (Marvin Williams, Rashad McCants, Sean May) teams are also easy to make the case for.

It’s far too easy to sit back and make blanket statements, especially in an era of sports media where everyone is trying to have a different take.

This Florida team was good, and could easily be in the top 10 or so teams ever, but virtually any student of history when it comes to college sports will tell you there have been better teams.

We are now in what many sports fans could call the vast wasteland of sports, as we’re a few weeks away from the NBA playoffs and Major League Baseball is only now beginning its long, torturous trek towards the World Series.

With little else to say for the next week or so, these Florida arguments are likely to stick around for a while.

At least now you can be armed with a few facts to support your argument when you say Florida’s not the best of all time.

Tim Cottrell is sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached by phone at 601-445-3632 or by e-mail at