‘47 visited Gainesville to explore the history of Florida Gators football. After examining images and memorabilia, we created the ‘47 ARCHIVE: Florida Gators collection.
A founding member of the SEC in 1932, the University of Florida football program didn’t achieve consistent success until the 1960’s.
The hiring of Ray Graves as head coach in 1960, for a salary of $18,500, turned things around and kicked off the “Silver Sixties”. In 1966, the Gators’ recorded their first major bowl victory, defeating Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Considered the father of modern football in Gainesville, Graves retired in 1969 as the winningest coach in school history.
During the Gators run of success in the mid 1960’s they developed a reputation as a “second-half team”. Coincidentally at this time, Dr. Robert Cade and other University of Florida researchers tested their creation, “Gatorade”, on the football team in the hot and humid conditions of “The Swamp”. After Florida beat Georgia Tech in the 1967 Orange Bowl, Tech’s head coach reportedly said, “They had Gatorade, we didn’t. That made the difference”.
The 1966 team would become even more memorable years later, as Heisman-winning QB Steve Spurrier returned as head coach at Florida in the ‘90s. In 1996, Spurrier surpassed his former coach, Graves, to become the new all-time winningest Florida coach. Today Spurrier is among the Gator legends immortalized in the “Ring of Honor” along with the likes of Emmitt Smith.
It’s these key figures and moments of a storied program that inspired the ’47 ARCHIVE: Florida Gators collection.