The 2008 Florida Gators are easily the most unbelievable team in NCAA Football history. They were the nearly undefeated BCS National Champions. Not only did most of the starters on the team make it to the NFL, but most of the team also made it to jail. Nearly a third of this team has been arrested. Oh, and did we forget to mention that this is the team Tim Tebow came from? Buckle up, because this team is a motley crew by all definitions.
The 2008 Florida Gators, led by Urban Meyer in his 4th year as head coach, was hoping to atone for a disappointing end to a strong season in 2007. Despite a 9-4 record and their starting QB, Tim Tebow, winning the Heisman trophy the team faced a difficult road to success in 2008. Meyer lost multiple assistant coaches in the off-season and many of the team’s defensive core went on to the NFL or graduated. The coming season had all the expectations in the world, but little guarantee that they could pull off a championship run.
The Preachers Promise
Despite all the bad signs for the upcoming season, the team was confident that they could win a championship in 2008. Driven by this confidence they were public with their expectations of success. The team backed up their confidence with three straight blowout wins at the start of the season. The excitement was halted by a 1 point loss to Ole Miss in week 4. After the game, Tebow roused fans with a heartfelt speech promising the hardest-fought season anyone would ever see. The preacher stood by his promise leading his team to the BCS championship game without another loss. The trophy went home to Florida that year, but that is just the beginning of the story.
Pros and Prisoners or Both
While Tebow was busy leading Bible studies with half of the team after practice, the other half was off breaking the law. The players on the 2008 Florida Gators roster could not be more different. On one end of the spectrum, you have Tim Tebow, who needs no introduction, and Aaron Hernandez, whose name you likely recognize as the NFL star convicted of murder in 2013. How was it possible that these two came from the same team? Well, it’s not just Tebow and Hernandez, there’s more.
In the years since that prolific season, 41 out of 121 of the players listed on the Gators roster have been arrested. The crimes range from unpaid tickets to Aaron Hernandez and everything in between. We’re going to take a second to look at some of the highlights, or should we say lowlights of this wild team.
You’re Under Arrest
Let’s start with a player you probably know, but most likely didn’t know was with the Florida Gators in 2008, Cam Newton. Cam played under Tebow in 2008. After that season he would get arrested for stealing a laptop he tried to hide by throwing out his dorm window. Unfortunately for him, he had already spray painted his name on the laptop thus spoiling his plans. Next on the list is defensive end Jermaine Cunningham. After getting into a fight with a Jimmy Johns employee because they asked him to pay for his chips, Cunningham was arrested.
The Pouncey twins played right next to each other on the offensive line as the center and guard respectively. The two received backlash after wearing hats that read “Free Hernandez” following their former teammate’s arrest. They also found themselves facing legal trouble after picking fights at a bar on their birthday. Louis Murphy was arrested at the Tampa Airport for trying to fly with a loaded gun. Janoris Jenkins, the cornerback, has never been placed under arrest. Although, he has been tased. Brandon Spikes, Linebacker, was only arrested for minor crimes. He however gouged someone’s eyes out during a game and somehow didn’t find jail time for that one.
At one end of the 2008 Florida Gators was a group that would go on to speak at church events and starts a national trend to take a knee and pray. On the other end of this Gators team was a group of future convicts. The differences in morales are unbelievable, to say the least. Almost as unbelievable as the personality difference and the just sheer number of arrests on the roster is the fact that the team was able to rally and becoming a championship-winning team. The 2008 Florida Gators are incredibly interesting. Find out more about them on this week’s episode of Things I Learned Last Night. TILLN is an educational comedy podcast where best friends Jaron Myers and Tim Stone learn new things weekly. Subscribe right now and never miss a beat!
The 2008 Florida Gators – Wikipedia
Hernandez Among Many Who Found Trouble at Florida in the Meyer Years – New York Times
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