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5 FLORIDA

April 28, 1997
April 28, 1997

Table of Contents
April 28, 1997

Jock Schools

5 FLORIDA

VARSITY TEAMS: 20 INTRAMURAL SPORTS: 19
FAMOUS ALUMNI: TRACY CAULKINS, EMMITT SMITH, STEVE SPURRIER
EXTRA CREDIT FOR: INVENTION OF GATORADE BY A FLORIDA PROF

This is an article from the April 28, 1997 issue Original Layout

The student section at Florida's Ben Hill Griffin Stadium,
better known as the Swamp, long ago adopted as its motto "We're
the worst." Comedian Jeff Foxworthy recently recalled his 1990
stand-up act at a sold-out Swamp as a terrifying moment. "One of
the students who put on the show said before I went, 'Oh, yeah,
we've had everybody,'" said Foxworthy of his performance at the
Gator Growl, the homecoming week Fla-lapalooza billed as the
world's largest student-run pep rally. "'We had Bob Hope. We
booed him off the stage. We booed the Smothers Brothers off the
stage. We made Paula Poundstone cry.'" (Foxworthy was lucky; he
was cheered.)

Put an opposing football team on the field and the Swamp becomes
what the Atlanta Journal-Constitution once called "the loudest,
most obnoxious and notorious piece of real estate in all of
college football." You might expect such fervor at a school
that, besides being the national champion in football, is one of
two universities--UCLA is the other--that has placed in the Top
10 in the NCAA all-sports rankings each year since 1984. Of the
20 varsity sports the Gators play, only the men's basketball
team had a losing record in 1995-96, and at week's end 17 of the
teams were above .500 this year. Florida is also the best
women's sports school in the country (page 84).

Even the intramural teams compete for national championships. In
late December, two afternoons before the tackle-football Gators
claimed the national title with a 35-29 Sugar Bowl thrashing of
Florida State, two teams from Florida finished second and third
in the flag-football nationals in New Orleans. "Our fraternity
is based on flag football," says John Dawson, president of the
Florida chapter of Pi Lambda Phi, the third-place finisher in
New Orleans. "Has been for almost 50 years."

It was 48 years ago that Pi Lambda Phi and Tau Epsilon Phi,
Florida's two largest Jewish fraternities, first staged the
annual Nose Bowl, so named by the participants for the generous
proboscises found on some team members. Today, pledges from the
two houses practice for the game 2 1/2 hours a day, six days a
week. As many as 900 alumni from the frats flock to the event,
which is shown on cable TV as far away as South Florida.

The rest of the campus takes only a slightly more restrained
approach to sports. Roughly 85% of Florida's 29,637
undergraduates participate in intramurals. To keep up with the
demand the school built a second, $6.6 million student rec
center in 1995 to go with the $3.6 million center it unveiled
less than three years earlier. Students who like the outdoors go
to Lake Wauburg, a short drive from campus, to water-ski, canoe
and sail.

But Florida would not be Florida without its crazed fans. To
wit: Bradford Yates. Since 1992 he and his trademark
from-the-opening-whistle-to-the-final-horn rant have not missed
a Lady Gators home basketball game. Yates, who didn't even
attend Florida, wraps tape around his hands before games so his
incessant clapping won't cause them to bleed. "He's a sold-out
arena all by himself," says coach Carol Ross.

On the morning of Nov. 15, 1995, Yates's house near campus
caught fire. As the inferno raged, he couldn't help thinking of
the women's hoops game that evening. "I hadn't missed one since
1992," he says. Happily, the fire was doused in time for Yates
to make tip-off. What would he have done had the conflagration
occurred closer to game time? "Boy," says Yates, sounding
genuinely stumped. "Hmmm. Jeez. That's a tough one."

--CHRISTIAN STONE

COLOR PHOTO: DEDE SMITH LED BY STANDOUTS LIKE CHELSEY SAKIZZIE, FLORIDA IS A WOMEN'S SPORTS POWERHOUSE [Chelsey Sakizzie pitching in softball game]