Easter Octave Meditation

Coming to the tomb of Jesus that first Easter morning, the

women discovered an angel there, the rock rolled away. It was a

shocking and unexpected sight. The guards, who were there to

This is the power of

the cross for the follower

of Christ, no matter

what happens to us or can

happen to us we are not

defeated.

make sure that the disciples did not steal the body of the Lord,

were also witnesses to this. They were overcome with fear—to the

point of being “like dead men.”

One experience, two groups of people, two different reactions.

One group looks at the empty tomb and rushes to tell what

they have witnessed. The other group is paralyzed by the life

event. This wasn’t just something that happened thousands of

years ago; it happens every moment of every day. Those who see

the cross as the end of their life, meet death there; those who

believe and place their trust in God, find in the cross life and victory.

“The Best Thing That Ever Happened”

Tebow, not winning the Heisman, Mike Bianchi explains in the Orlando Sentinel:

Tebow was victimized by being Tebow — perhaps the most famous and highly publicized player in college football history. Some fans and voters are obviously sick of the massive Tebow lovefest that has permeated college football since Tebow signed with UF. How else do you explain Tebow receiving more first-place votes (309) than any of the other candidates, but finishing third because he was completely left off 154 of the 904 ballots?

“They either love the Gators or they hate us,” said Tebow, who failed in his attempt to become the only player in history other than Archie Griffin to win two Heismans.

Florida fans who are upset because Tebow finished third — don’t be. This might be the best thing that ever happened to the Gators heading into the Jan. 8 national title game against Bradford’s Oklahoma team. Tebow, although he was the first person to congratulate and hug Bradford after he won Saturday night, was more than a little perturbed he didn’t win.

“I’ll use this as motivation,” he vowed. ” … . On Jan. 8, we get to decide something a little bit better and I’m excited about that.”

Again, this is no knock on Bradford. He’s had a spectacular year. But let’s be honest, shall we? Bradford won because of his gaudy passing numbers, many of which were accumulated at the end of blowout victories against outmanned Big 12 defenses.

Could I get a clarification, please? On the top of my Heisman ballot, it says to vote for the “Most Outstanding College Football Player” and says nothing about voting for the quarterback who put up the most obscene passing numbers. The word “outstanding” in my book means you “stand out” above the others. And, to me, Bradford and the other Big 12 quarterbacks in contention ( runner up Colt McCoy of Texas and Graham Harrell of Texas Tech) were all clones of one another. Tebow stands out as a once-in-lifetime athlete.

The Big 12 quarterbacks are about numbers and statistics; Tebow is about moments and memories. The Big 12 quarterbacks are measured in passing yards accumulated; Tebow is measured in folklore created.

•Like when he gave the emotional, tear-stained speech after the team’s only loss of the season against Ole Miss. The Gators haven’t lost a game since and the speech was compared to Knute Rockne’s “Win One for the Gipper” pep talk by CBS broadcaster and college football historian Verne Lundquist.

•Or like the Florida State game when some FSU fans angered Tebow by cheering after UF star Percy Harvinlay on the wet, muddy field with an injured ankle. Tebow went up to his coaches and insisted on carrying the ball because he wanted “to hit somebody extremely hard.”

On the very next play, Tebow bulled into the line and moved the entire pile 3 yards into the end zone. After getting up from the bottom of the stack, Tebow ripped off his helmet to show a face caked with mud and streaked with FSU’s garnet end-zone paint.

Following the game, iconic FSU Coach Bobby Bowden called Tebow “The greatest football player I’ve ever seen at quarterback.”

Tebow is the greatest football player one of the greatest coaches in history has ever seen — but not the most outstanding college football player of the year?

Doesn’t quite add up, does it?

Then again, Gators fans should be ecstatic with Heisman voters. They did exactly what Ole Miss did three months ago: They not only inspired Tebow; they incited him.

Not just for one more game, but perhaps even for one more season.

“Maybe,” Tebow said and smiled coyly, “this is motivation to come back for another year and try to tie Archie.”

Ready for the SEC Championship

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Obama and I Agree

There should be a college football playoff, involving the top 8 teams.  From USA Today:

With President-elect Barack Obama supporting a playoff system to decide college football’s national champion, the future TV home of the Bowl Championship Series could become a political football.

BCS commissioners could make the call Monday on whether to move TV rights for five bowls, including the national championship, to ESPN from Fox starting in 2011. The title game would be the first major American sports championship shown on cable. There’s still roughly 16 million U.S. homes that don’t get ESPN. While ESPN has other sports properties such as Monday Night Football, a few college fans without cable have complained they’d be shut out.

So it wouldn’t be surprising to see politicians champion their cause, given that Obama told CBS’ 60 MinutesSunday that a playoff system is “the right thing to do,” For example, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., intervened last year when fans howled about Major League Baseball moving its “Extra Innings” package of out-of-market games exclusively to satellite provider DirecTV.

Fox spokesman Dan Bell said the network will let the BCS know today whether it will match ESPN’s reported $500 million offer to telecast the BCS championship and four other bowls from 2011 to 2014. ABC, ESPN’s Disney sister network, will broadcast the national championship and Rose Bowl in 2010.

ESPN declined comment.

During Sunday’s interview with CBS’ Steve Kroft, Obama laid out exactly what kind of playoff system he envisions: “Eight teams. That would be three rounds to determine a national champion. It would add three extra weeks to the season. You could trim back on the regular season. I don’t know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this.”

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Gators live up to hype, beat South Carolina senseless! Meyer’s expresses excitement that Jimmy Buffet is in the  locker room…Mike Bianchi reflects on the end of the Spurrier era in the Orlando Sentinel:

From now on, we must all cease and desist making a big deal about Spurrier coaching against his former team. These days, it’s more exciting when Houston Nutt comes to Gainesville than Steve Spurrier.

This game is no longer about Steve Spurrier coaching against Florida. It’s only about Florida. It’s no longer about Steve Spurrier vs. Urban Meyer. It’s only about Urban Meyer.

Meyer’s very first words in his postgame news conference after handing Spurrier the worst loss of his coaching career: “Can you believeJimmy Buffett‘s in our locker room?”

That’s right, Meyer seemed more excited about his favorite singer being in the locker room afterward than he was with beating Spurrier’s Gamecocks like they were some outmanned 1-AA team. Meyer’s favorite Buffett song is “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere.” If Spurrier had to name a favorite Buffett song after the beating he took Saturday, it would probably be, “Why Don’t We Get Drunk” (and figure out a way to score a freaking touchdown).

Actually, a more appropriate tune for how Spurrier must have felt Saturday might be “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.” In that song, a nostalgic Buffett twangs: “Visions of good times that brought so much pleasure makes me want to go back again.”

Those good times for Spurrier must seem like a million miles away now. For Florida fans and media members who witnessed Spurrier’s greatness at UF, it’s shocking to see just how pedestrian his offense has become. It’s sort of like watching Bob Dolegoing from presidential candidate to making Viagra commercials. Or like watching a young Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront and then seeing him years later at the end of his career playing a bloated prison warden with dyed red hair in that awful comedy Free Money.

Spurrier used to be so cocky and sure of himself — a proud perfectionist who only talked about winning championships. But after Saturday’s dismantling, he sounded so unfamiliar. He uttered unSpurrier-like phrases such as: “We were just trying to keep the score respectable.” Or: “We’re having a good season. We’re 7-4 with a chance to go 8-4.”

These are words you never thought you’d hear out of Spur-Dog’s mouth, but that is the reality of his situation right now. As great as he once was, he’s now just another coach for the Urbanator to seek out and destroy. Spurrier may have once been the king of The Swamp, but on Saturday the deposed king returned and the Urbanator guillotined him.

In 309 games as a head coach in college and pro football, Spurrier never has been beaten this badly — not even when he was at Duke. But at least he’s not alone. Urbanator’sGators are dismantling anybody and everybody who gets in their way. They became the first team in Southeastern Conference history Saturday to win six consecutive conference games by 28 points or more.

A dozen years after Spurrier won his first and only national championship at Florida, Meyer is potentially on his way to a second national title by dominating SEC opponents much like Spurrier did back in the day. In the middle of Spurrier’s 1996 national championship season, the Gators went on the most dominating stretch in school and SEC history — a six-game SEC winning streak where Florida won by an average score of 49-11. If you’re scoring at home, Meyer’s Gators are on a six-game SEC streak, winning by an average score of 50-11.

Said Spurrier: “We have to recruit us some athletes like Urban’s recruiting.”

Funny, huh?

Urban Meyer came to Florida and wanted to be like Steve Spurrier.

Now Steve Spurrier is at South Carolina and wants to be like Urban Meyer.

Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes.

What Gator Fans Fear

Not to mention the looming Florida State game as well.

The normally right on Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel and native rural Floridian totally misses the point of this week’s game involving former head coach Steve Spurrier. No Gator fan wants the ole ball coach to win this game, but all secretly fear that he might. From Bianchi’s blog:

Believe me, I know University of Florida fans would never admit it publicly but there are many of them who, deep down in places they wish didn’t exist, will be secretly rooting for Steve Spurrier to beat their own team Saturday.

That’s right, I’m saying there are some Gator fans who want Stevie Spurrier to turn into Stevie Spoiler Saturday.

They are like the conflicted kids from the broken home who, even though daddy ran off with another woman, somehow blame mommy for the divorce. And they want daddy to come home and make things like they used to be.

They want the old Swamp Fox, Stephen Orr Spurrier, to come back and turn the Swamp into his own personal playground once again.

When South Carolina’s Spurrier comes back to the Swamp for the second time Saturday, it won’t be at all like when Alabama coach Nick Saban made his return to LSU last weekend. Saban is truly despised by LSU fans, who consider him a traitor. He was never truly part of the LSU family.

In contrast, Spurrier is still beloved by Florida fans. He is a bonafide UF icon — a player who won the school’s first Heisman Trophy and a coach who won the school’s first national championship. For long-time UF football fans, he is their first love. And we all know that you never forget your first love.

Admit it, Gator fans, you love Steve Spurrier. You’ll always love Steve Spurrier.

If the Gators win Saturday, you’ll be happy for the way things are.

If the Gators lose Saturday, you’ll be nostalgic for the way things used to be.

Saturday Night in Nashville

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Not to see the Grand Ole Opry, but to see the Florida Gators take on the Vanderbilt Comodores. This is the first time I’ve been there for a night game, and in November that isn’t necessarily a good thing for the person watching the game or for those warm blooded Florida players on the field–but on this night the chill in the air did not stop the Florida team from performing on all eight cylinders. From the Tennessean:

 

The Gators (8-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) scored on each of their first four possessions — taking advantage of an interception and a pair of blocked punts for three of those touchdowns — and converted five of their six first-half drives into a 35-0 lead at halftime.

“We have a lot of confidence in our defense and our team as a whole,” said safety Ryan Hamilton, who finished with 13 total tackles. “We really felt we were going to come out here and shut them down, make them punt the ball. We weren’t making them punt the ball. We weren’t doing our job.

“Playing a team with that many good athletes, you’ve got to tackle, and we didn’t. We weren’t doing our job.”

Florida — which clinched the SEC East title with the victory — rolled up 407 offensive yards in the opening three quarters, with reigning Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow rushing for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns while throwing for 171 yards and three more scores.

Vanderbilt, meanwhile, didn’t pick up a first down until the last minute of the first quarter. By that point, the Commodores had seen a Brett Upson punt partially blocked and a Mackenzi Adams pass intercepted, with both plays leading to Florida scores.

The Commodore defense finally came up with a stop in the second quarter, with Chris Marve stripping Percy Harvin at the goal line and Hamilton recovering in the end zone.

Vanderbilt’s offense was unable to take advantage of the break, though, and Florida scored on its next possession to take a five-touchdown lead into halftime.

“That was a huge play,” Johnson said of the Gators touchdown — a 41-yard pass from Tebow to David Nelson — with eight seconds remaining in the half. “From 28 to 35 at the half is extremely different.”

Trailing 42-0 — and with starting quarterback Mackenzi Adams sidelined by a second-quarter hip injury — fifth-year senior Chris Nickson led the Commodores on consecutive scoring drives of 81 and 87 yards. Nickson threw 2 yards to Jamie Graham for a touchdown and 14 yards to Sean Walker.

“We were moving the ball pretty well in the first half,” Nickson said. “We just had some crazy penalties, hurting ourselves. In the second half, we … eliminated the penalties and just executed the way we could.”

The Commodores’ wait for the sixth victory they need for bowl eligibility will carry into next weekend’s trip to Kentucky, which barely lost Saturday to Georgia.

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