Fun facts to know and tell about the Florida Gators now that they are 7-0-1 and (maybe) America's No. 1 college football team:
1) Their coach, Galen Hall, is not actually bald. He just has his mohawk on inside out. This, coupled with a Michelin man physique, makes him look a little like Fred Mertz. His wife (Elaine, not Ethel) calls him "gorgeous." Rival coaches call him a genius. You can call him undefeated. As a head coach, he's 15-0-1 over two seasons.
2) Their star quarterback, sophomore Kerwin Bell, drives a slick sports car, just like everybody else's star quarterback. Only difference is, Bell paid for his. You see, Bell wasn't recruited. He was a walk-on from outside Mayo, Fla. (pop. 891). You can call him the Throwin' Mayoan.
3) Their arrest record is almost as long as their current unbeaten streak (18). The NCAA caught Florida violating the bejesus out of the rules under former coach Charley Pell and stuck the Gators with three years of probation. So here they are, Public Enemy No. 1, and maybe No. 1 period. Whether they have done it without exceeding the salary cap is another question entirely.
Anyway, on Saturday the Gators traveled to Auburn's Jordan (say it JERden) Hare Stadium, where they had won only twice since 1927, and came away with a nervy 14-10 victory. Florida's triumph was impressive enough to vault the Gators past Penn State, an unimpressive winner over Boston College, and into the No. 1 slot in SI's Top 20. Although Florida was Auburn's better—the Gators committed no turnovers and came from behind to win—Tiger fans will be wondering over their mourning grits how things might have been had tailback Bo (Where'd He Go?) Jackson not gone to the sidelines. Once again, mishap visited Jackson in a critical game. He finished with only 48 yards (152 under his average), leaving just before halftime with a bruised thigh. "A helmet caught me between my thigh pad and knee pad," said Jackson, rubbing that very spot.
He returned for three plays in the second half, but "it spasmed back up again" and he left the game for good. His replacement was Brent Fullwood, who's getting used to this. Jackson pulled himself out of Auburn's only other loss, 38-20 to Tennessee on Sept. 28, with a bruised knee. Sigh. If Jackson wins the Heisman Trophy, perhaps Fullwood can pick it up for him.
"Seems like Bo has a tendency to leave the ball game when the going gets tough," said Florida linebacker Leon Pennington. "I'm not saying anything about Bo. It's just that, in football, you're going to get banged up. Sometimes, you've got to play with pain."
Tell Florida about it. Tailback Neal Anderson started the game on a sore knee and limped off the field in the first quarter, but he returned. Bell guided the Gators to the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter on a twisted knee. Shoot, the whole Florida program has played with pain all season—the ouch that goes with knowing you have no hope for a bowl game or the SEC title. Still, in a year when the Shawnee Sheriffs have knocked other outlaws out of the saddle—SMU, USC and Illinois haven't been the same since they've gone on probation—Florida keeps on kicking up dust in the posse's face. So what gives, Hoss?
"We want the national championship," says Bell.
"You know why?" says Pennington. "Because they took everything else."