Prior to 2006 no school had ever won both the Final Four and the college football national championship in the same year. Nor had any school won both titles if you shift the calendar to measure it by academic year, with the football season coming first in the sequence. In a 12-month span the Florida Gators changed all that.
Billy Donovan’s basketball program started it off by winning the NCAA Tournament in 2006. Urban Meyer and the football team followed suit in the fall of that year. The calendar year sweep was complete. Then, as though to eliminate any doubt, Donovan’s basketball team made sure they also tacked on the academic year sweep, winning the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
The run to championships was not only dominant, it was replete with ironic storylines. Florida tormented Ohio State. That’s not unusual in a dynastic run, but in this case the Gators did it to the Buckeyes in two different sports in a matter of months.
The 2006 football crown was secured in the early days of January 2007, when Florida blasted Ohio State 41-14. Then the 2007 NCAA basketball final saw the same two schools go head-to-head and the Gators win 84-75.
The reaction in Columbus? A blogger I read the Tuesday morning after the basketball game summed it up succinctly, calling on the United States government to return the state of Florida to Spain.
That’s about all that would have stopped Florida in the three-championship run of April 2006 to April 2007. The football team added a Heisman Trophy by Tim Tebow in 2007 and another national championship in ’08 to the list. Donovan hasn’t made the Final Four since, although losses in the regional finals the past three seasons have him close. Florida remains a major player on the sports scene, but it’s hard to imagine anyone ever topping what they did starting in 2006.
Read more about the 2006 Florida basketball team
Read more about the 2006 Florida football team
Read more about the 2007 Florida basketball team