Florida deserved to be there

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Of the fairly limited populace of passionate NCAA football fans in this region, many of them are Michigan Wolverine backers. Only a short jaunt outside of Detroit, the University of Michigan is the closest major NCAA campus with a solid football team.

This is why what I’m about to write will ruffle some feathers.

Wolverine fans are bitter about their recent losses to arch-rival Ohio State and to USC in the Rose Bowl. The lion’s share of their enmity, however, is directed at Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer.

Meyer lobbied heavily to ensure Michigan didn’t play in the national title game. Michigan lost to the superpower Ohio State Buckeyes by a narrow margin in Columbus, and most believed the Maize and Blue were the second-best team in the country. Wolverine fans insist it was Meyer’s realpolitik that landed the Gators in the big show instead of their squad.

However, after Florida’s 41-14 dismantling of Ohio State in Monday’s national championship, the Gators proved to any Doubting Thomas (or Albert or Michael or Ferdinand, for that matter) they belonged in the title game.

Florida’s Southeastern Conference is much deeper than Ohio State and Michigan’s Big Ten, and the Gators played a schedule that would make Bill Parcells soil himself for reasons other than senility. Florida’s defence dominated Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Troy Smith, and they showed everyone they’re the elite in college pigskin.

So Michigan fans can grit their teeth and curse Meyer all they want. Ultimately, their team came up short against USC in the Rose Bowl, and the Buckeye team that dispatched them fell flat against the underdog Gators.

As a fan of Big Ten football, I’d love to say the conference had the two best teams in the country this year. For a while, it looked that way. It just wasn’t the case.

The SEC is the best conference, and Florida is the best team.

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