Until the Gators decided to stick their big scaly tail between their stumpy little legs, the Miami Hurricanes-Florida Gators rivalry was a big deal. Indeed it was the oldest rivalry in the state, and perhaps at times even more heated then the FSU-UM rivalry.
As one UM alum once put it, "I always wanted to beat Florida State, but I wanted to kick the Gators' ass."
Join us now as relive some of the ugliest moments from the storied rivalry that's set for its latest chapter tomorrow.
1971 - The Florida Flop
To this day the "Florida Flop" is still regarded as one of the cheapest stunts in college football history. The Gators, playing their last game of the season, intended to ensure that senior Quarterback John Reaves would break the all-time NCAA passing record, but an interception late in the game left Reaves just 15 yards short of the record. The Gators were comfortably ahead, so, once the 'Canes had possession, the entire d-line flopped to the ground and the 'Canes soared to an easy touchdown ("unmolested" as the announcer in the video above puts it). The Gators got the ball back. Reaves got his record. And then the entire team jumped into the pond at the end of the Orange Bowl, which was at the time home to actual dolphin mascot of the Miami Dolphins. Afterward Hurricanes coach Fran Cruci refused to shake the hand of the aptly named Doug Dickey and claimed he'd "live to regret the day he pulled such a bush league stunt." As fate would have it, Dickey's Gators would beat the Hurricanes throughout the rest of his tenure, but he did end up being fired the week before the two teams met in 1978, which was a Hurricanes win.
1980 - Schnellenberger is mad as hell at these oranges and he's not going to take it anymore
This is perhaps the earliest example of the "f*** you" attitude Hurricanes head coach Howard Schnellenberger would instill in the program. The 1980 matchup was a Hurricanes route of the Gators in The Swamp, and Florida fans were so upset they began pelting Hurricanes players with oranges. Despite a comfortable lead, Schnellenberger decided to call a last minute field goal in response just to rub the eventual 31-7 victory.
1987 - Gators Cancel the Rivalry
Despite the fact it was Florida's oldest college football rivalry and had been played every year since 1937 save for one during World Ward II, the Florida Gators decided they could no longer keep the Hurricanes on the schedule. Mind you, this was right in the middle of the Hurricanes' decade of dominance. The Gators cited an expanding SEC schedule and financial reasons, but Hurricanes fans will always claims the team was more chicken than gator.
2000 - The Bourbon Street "Brawl"
After 13 years of not playing each other, the Hurricanes and Gators were to finally meet again in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Apparently there was some bubbling frustration. The first night both teams were in town they ran into each other on Bourbon Street and some trash talking a bit of scuffle followed. Estimates of the number of players involved ranged from 10 to 40, and two Gators players were handcuffed but later released. No disciplinary action was taken by either team. The Hurricanes went on to win the actual game 37-20.
2003 - Brock Berlin's Best Day Ever
Armed with little more than a name befitting a minor James Bond villain and a dream, Brock Berlin packed his bags in 2000 to play for Steve Spurrior's Florida Gators. Then, when Ron Zook took over the team Berlin made the wise decision of transferring to Miami. He'd up starting for the 'Canes during one of the team's rare post-80's match-ups, and started off playing horribly. Even 'Canes fans were booing him. The Gators smelled success against the 'Canes for the first time since 1986. Then halfway through the third quarter, Berlin went ballistic. He set up four UM touchdowns, and the 'Canes ended up winning 33-31. Afterward Berlin celebrated with a mocking Gators chomp.
2008 - Urban Meyer is just always mad as hell, no orange necessary.
The team's last meeting was one Hurricanes fans would rather forget. It was a total Gators rout. The 'Canes were already down 23-3 late in the fourth quarter when Gators head coach Urban Meyer decided to pull his own 1980 Schnellenberger. He ordered a field goal to add some extra insult to injury. Except this time there was no orange throwing involved. Some speculated Meyer was just trying to cover the spread, others thought he was just a dick. There's only strong evidence supporting one of those claims.
Afterward, Hurricanes coach Randy Shannon refused to look at Meyer during their brief handshake, and cryptically told the press later, "Sometimes when you do things, and people see what type of person you really are, you turn a lot of people off."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
2011 - University of Florida requests custody of the War Canoe
Since the '50s, the winner of the rivalry game would receive the War Canoe as a trophy. It is literally a wooden canoe. So big that the teams actually stopped trading it in the '70s because it was hard to display, but after the annual rivalry was cancelled the Hurricanes decided to display it in the school's sports hall of fame. Well, the few times the teams met since the Hurricanes came out victorious ... until the 2008 meeting. For some reason three years later in 2011 the UF student cancel decided they now wanted the canoe, and sent a letter to UM stating as much. UM's response: 'LOL, no.' The 'Canes reasoned the trophy was meant for the yearly rivalry, and since they had won the last meeting it was now rightfully there's for eternity. It remains in Coral Gables and will not be up for grabs tomorrow.