Gator Bowl: Florida 24, Ohio State 17
It was back in January of 1960. I was in my senior year at the University of Florida and the Gators were heading to a nearby bowl, the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville. I had never been to a Bowl game so right after it was announced the Gators would be in the Gator Bowl, a very close friend at the time and I decided to make the trip.
Directly across the street from my dormitory was Florida Field, then the home field of the Gators in games only, and where the home/away ticket office was located. So on the morning tickets were dispensed, I was in line very early. I wasn’t alone; I think at least half the student body was there. We were ending Final Exam Week so many had already left for home.
I was lucky. My tickets were for great seats about on the 45-yard line about half way up the side. After I completed my one remaining final exam, in the same building, incidentally, as the ticket office, I headed for home just outside St. Petersburg. My friend, who was a student at Florida State University in Tallahassee, had already gone to her parents’ home on the other side of St. Pete.
We had a good time planning our trip. My Mom and Dad helped me out considerably. On Christmas Day I had dozens of presents under the tree; all of them were carefully wrapped variously sized and shaped containers containing a five dollar bill. I shall never forget that Christmas Day.
Back in the pre-Interstate Highway days, the trip to Jax from St. Pete was a rather long ride, but it was a fun one. We attended some Gator events before the game and then she pretended interest while I yelled and cheered as the Gators beat Baylor. The fun, the excitement, the atmosphere of a college Bowl Game, even if at the time it was only rated fifth behind the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Cotton Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, is an experience one never forgets.
Those same five Bowls are still in existence although in this day and age of corporate naming their names aren’t quite the same. And now under the new Football Championship Series they don’t even have the same importance. Well, the four others still claim the top teams and the national championship game is played in one of them on a rotating basis, but with the plethora of new Bowls and the number of teams playing for their own bragging rights, those old New Year’s Day Bowl Games, which are no longer even played on New Year's Day, have lost a little of their luster.
My friend and I parted ways about half way through that final semester and have had no contact since. But that won’t change my venture into memory lane as I turn on the Gator Bowl this Jan. 2nd.
I hope your New Year Celebration was a nice, safe, and sane one and that this New Year will bring you prosperity and happiness.