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 Football Almighty

dave hogerty

Gator fans who waited until the last minute to buy season tickets, usually wound up sitting in Florida Field’s south end zone, with 6000 other, (mostly visiting) fans. Crowded in the old-school, wooden bleachers, under a stand of tall, thin, Sabal palms, far away from the 50-yard line madness.

al diaz


University of Florida (((video)))

In the first ten years of Alligator independence, the game, and business, of football was, as it has always been, a priority of the University of Florida administration. As such, the Alligator always paid a fair amount of attention to what is much more than a popular extra-curricular activity. It could be said that all of Gainesville and the University of Florida, revolves around the almighty football, God’s most important activity in what’s called the Southeast Conference.

Florida Field is the theater where the Gators usually dominate the well-groomed, naturally green stage. Since its opening in 1930, Florida Field has stood large on the west end of UF’s campus, rising like some sort of, North Florida Colosseum — A red-brick volcano, from which, on game days, frequent roars erupt onto the surrounding campus, across University Avenue, and into the mostly deserted, nearby neighborhoods. Mostly deserted because the stadium was filled with more Gator (football) fans than populated the entire school and all of Gainesville.

“Swamp” Thing
How the University of Florida turned a traditional college football stadium, into an ostentatious, money-sucking Swamp. Before it’s demise, Florida Field’s south end zone was home to traditional wooden bleachers, small, under a stand of tall, thin Sabal palms. Across one hundred yards of well manicured, natural grass, was the relatively small scoreboard, that was run out of the also small, open-air pressbox resting atop the west side seats at the 50-yard line.

Of course when it was decided to expand Florida Field, all that long-standing tradition had to go. Better to replace the grass with maintenance-free, artifical turf, bulldoze the palms to make for 20,000 more seats in the south end zone, and replacing the press box would be a new, air-conditioned facility, including seven floors of luxury skyboxes. Just what the big-donor “Bull Gators” ordered.

 

dave hogerty

Gator Power

Jubilant UF football fans tear down the south end zone goalpost after the Gators’ 35-3 shelling of Florida State’s Seminoles Saturday. Seconds after the seemingly impregnable goalpost came tumbling down — reportedly for the first time since 1961 — the Gator entourage was dispersed by an officially deployed smoke bomb. 

 

sandy felsenthal

Taking Florida Field as an All-American, Cris Collinsworth’s future was coming into high-expectations view.

 

friday
october 24, 1980
volume 74 no. 25
Pure Gold
‘Cadillac’ Cris hopes the road leads to riches
by David Futch
Alligator Staff Writer

For Cris “Cadillac” Collinsworth, playing the collision sport that pays for his college education is like the gamble David took with Goliath.

He doesn’t even look like a football player, much less the “Cadillac.” It’s the pipe-cleaner legs that give him away, His wiry, 6-foot-4-inch frame rarely carries more than 185 pounds during an entire football season:

Still, the sleek, 21-year-old spends autumn Saturday afternoons content with running in and out and up and down a green, plastic rug in pursuit of an oblate, oblong spheroid.

And content he should be. He does his thing better than any other college football player in America.

 

dave hogerty

In his senior year as UF’s leading wide receiver, Cris Collinsworth was confident he had a future in the NFL.

In August, Playboy magazine selected him in August as its All-American wide receiver.

Professional football teams pay dearly for players with those credentials. In Cadillac’s case, probably about $300.000, just for signing a contract.

Broken down, that would be about $1,621.62 a pound, for simply writing his name on the dotted line. In other terms, Grade A, rib eye steak at your neighborhood supermarket.

For a while I was indifferent about playing pro ball, but now I want to. I’ve been playing since I was in the sixth grade, and it’s been a lot of hard work. To go pro would be an honor.”

— Cris Collinsworth

Coaches, fellow football players, and friends have said for years Collinsworth would be an All-American. Mom and Dad knew it before he played his first youth league football game a dozen years ago.

We never had to push him in school or athletics, says Abe Collinsworth, Cris’ father. “It was almost a hands off attitude. He’s a self-starter, and looking after his priorities is his standout feature. He knows when he can go to the beach and when he has to study. Collinsworth, a native of Titusville (Fla.), dismisses his All-American status. He calls himself “just an ordinary guy.”

Cadillac may be “ordinary” in his own eyes, but UF head football coach Charley Pell said Collinsworth’s personal character and motivation make him much more than ordinary.

“There are a lot of gifted athletes around – in prison, on the streets — but ability alone does not make a great athlete.” Pell said.

“The things that separate the great athlete from the mediocre athlete are character and self motivation. In Cris you also have an outstanding student.”

A senior accounting maior, Collinsworth has maintained a 3.1 grade point average, and plans to apply to law school if he’s rejected by the pros.

In short, he is a winner.

It’s almost an obsession with him. said Jay Johnson, his Yon Hall athletic dorm roommate of four vears.

Shuffle the cards, serve up the ping-pong ball, pull out the driver, but don’t give him a break or you lose,  Johnson said.

At Titusville Astronaut High School, Collinsworth was a fast, but scared sophomore when he started his first varsity football game. The War Eagles won every game that vear The then skinny, 165-pound kid was headed for fame. Before graduation, the multi-talented athlete was an America high school quarterback, state 100 yard dash champion for 3A schools, all-state basketball player conference baseball player,

From the moment Collinsworth stepped onto Florida Field, four years ago, he became UF’s big-play weapon. >>>

 

sandy felsenthal

JUST ANOTHER STUDENT … CRIS COLLINSWORTH IN CARLTON AUDITORIUM

 dave hogerty

>>> After UF had run up the score on Rice University, Collinsworth came in and tossed a 99-yard touchdown pass to tie a National Collegiate Athletic Association passing record for the longest touchdown pass.

He has also scored from 52, 58, 63, and 92 yards out. Cadillac was an All-Southeastern Conference selection in 1978 and 1979, and All-SEC Academic player for the past three seasons.

But in there success after college football? Collinsworth hopes so for two reasons.

“For a while I was indifferent about playing pro ball, but now I want to,” he said. “I’ve been playing since I was in sixth grade and it’s been a lot of hard work. To go pro would be an honor.

“The pros are the best of the best. So it’s for pride now — plus all that money they dish out.”

Money will be the reward for the years of sacrifice, but the transition from little-known jock to big man on campus has its costs, Collinsworth said.

The price for fame and glory includes learning the equally intriguing game of diplomacy. Those in the limelight must be careful about what they say to the press.

The derivation of the nickname Cadillac is a “stupid story,” Collinsworth said.  It was a gift from Gator defensive tackle Van Jones. The two were being fitted for helmets during the Florida High School All-Star game in Gainesville following their high school graduation.

Equipment managers spent 30 minutes trying to find a helmet that fit Collinsworth. But that Cadillac head was just too big, Jones told him. Reporters picked up the story and the name stuck.

Collinsworth also has learned to stay away from nightclubs. He doesn’t drink alcohol anyway, though he has an occasional beer with the boys. Frequenting late-night watering holes can tarnish the image — people like to gossip, he said.

“If people see me at a club they’ll say, ‘I saw Cris Collinsworth drunk last night at Chelsea’s Pub.” he said. “Being an All-American, you have to learn how to cope with it. I prefer going to a quiet place with my girlfriend.”

The allure of Gainesville night life lost its shine in the middle of Collinsworth’s sophomore year. Party time was replaced by something on a higher order — the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

When the sandy blond, blue-eyed Collinsworth came to Gainesville four years ago, he was not one to kneel and pray on a regular basis. He rarely went to church when he was growing up.

Collinsworth called himself a C and E Christian — a person who goes to church Christmas and Easter. He would drop a dollar in the basket and figured he was covered for the year.

An ulterior motive led him to his first FCA meeting. Sororities sent their finest and with eyes shining,  and Collinsworth said “there were some real darlin’s there.”

But after a while, some questions were posed that made me think about where I was going, and after a couple of years, FCA became a part of my life,” he said. “It gave me an out, and a chance to get back to a lifestyle I was accustomed to.”

FCA is one part of  Collinsworth’s concept of the total athlete. Talent, a few good years and publicity are the other necessary ingredients. Beyond that, it’s someone who’s positive, Collinsworth said.

“That makes the difference,” he said. “I can tell you, I’ve put in my time speaking to church groups and kids.”

Collinsworth believes it is an athlete’s pulic duty to do such speaking.

Most of the time he warns them about drugs.

“I never try to get preachy about it, because that just doesn’t work,” he said. “I try a softer approach. Without ever saying ‘don’t,’ I try to tell these kids that as an athlete you give up something if you do drugs. I’m fortunate that I have super parents. They constantly cared.”

Growing up on Florida’s East Coast, drugs seemed to grow up with him, Collinsworth said.

“I didn’t trust drugs and I knew if I had tried them I might like them,” he said. “I just didn’t like the image drugs portrayed.

“It doesn’t bother me if someone else around is smoking pot. I have friends who have smoked pot right beside me. The way I figure it, it’s an individual thing.”

There just are better things to do and not much time to do them, Collinsworth said.

A typical weekday during football season starts at 7 a.m. There are classes until noon, and then break for lunch before trainers begin binding ankles and knees with adhesive tape. Game films of upcoming opponents precede the 3 p.m. practive that ends three sweat-filled hours later. After dinner is served at 7 p.m., Collinsworth heads back to his room to study.

But before catching a few hours sleep, Cadillac likes to chew, and often loads up on Red Man chewing tobacco.

In the off-season, between quarters, Collinsworth enjoys another sport — doing absolutely nothing.

During football season, there are so many responsibilities — responsibilities to the football team, my teammates, my girlfriend, school, reporters,” he said. “My happiest times are when I have zero responsibilities, and can go out and play golf and tennis.

“I love golf and tennis. I hate alarm clocks.”

So Cadillac Collinsworth is just an ordinary guy with a million-dollar future. His southern accent has that gentlemanly flavor, while the ego stays at bay.

Fame is fleeting, but still savored.

I love for people to come up to me and talk about the game. I don’t think I’m a celebrity or a Romeo, but it’s a whole lot nicer to be recognized than not.”

—30—

 

barbara hansen

Artificial Inteligence

When the powers that were decided it would be a good idea to replace Florida Field’s naturally green grass, with an artificial turf made of a petroleum-based, toxic goo. It was thought that UF would save money with a plastic grass that never needed to be mowed, but they didn’t consider what the turf would become after sitting under a blazing-hot, blinding bright Florida sun. They didn’t know that it would melt and become a too-slippery surface to run and play football on. The administration did save the money, not having to mow, but the loss of too many players to incapacitating knee injuries was enough to change the administration’s mind, and the decision was made to remove the goo and re-seed the field with living grass.

CONTENTS

vol. 1 no. 1
IN THE BEGINNING (Vol.1 No.1)
florida history (1912-1983)
WELCOME TO GAINESVILLE
Much more than just another sleepy, little, North Florida town.
New Student Edition 1981
OPINION (Letters To The Editor)
CONVENIENCE (Is In The Eye of The Beholder)
100 THINGS TO DO (IN GAINESVILLE)
FOOTBALL ALMIGHTY
GATOR GROWL (HOMECOMING)
Gainesville Green (“I’d like to fertilize her buds”)
TOM PETTY (Coming Home)
MUSIC (The Sound of Higher Education)
HALLOWEEN BALL
PREACHERS (On The Green)
In The Beginning/Independence Day (Alt.)
Naked Launch (Pretty As A Florida Picture)
Diamond Teeth Mary (Singing With The Devil’s)
MOVIES (Pop Culture of The Day)

 

friday
october 24, 1980
volume 74 no. 25

dave hogerty

Last Stand

The view sucks, Mr. Two-Bits never comes to lift them from their bourbon and herb-crazed state of mind. Torn between east and west are 6,000 procrastinators who waited until the last minute to buy season tickets. They’re a schizophrenic bunch who can’t decide whether to yell orange or blue when the ear-splitting cheer echoes across Florida Field. But these more-demented die-hards are there every home game screaming, smoking, and drinking their lungs, brains, and livers out.

Gator Growl 
The Eagles
Linda Ronstadt

 


introduction
page 1. (New Student Edition 1981)
florida history (1912-1983)

Vol 1. No.1 (Florida’s Golden Rule)
music (The Sound of Higher Education)

movies (Pop Culture of The Day)

FOOTBALL ALMIGHTY
TOM PETTY (Coming Home)
GATOR GROWL (Homecoming)
HALLOWEEN BALL
THE MYSTERIOUS MURPHREE STONES
Mucozo and Ortiz
(Gargoyles) Ghosts of Florida’s past >>>

Preachers On The Green
Convenience is in the Eye of the Beholder
Murphree’s Opening Message (alt.)
Naked Launch (Florida’s Prettiest Picture)
Diamond Teeth Mary (Singing With The Devil)

ALLIGATOR WRITERS/EDITORS
ALLIGATOR PHOTOGRAPHERS