What's the greatest game ever played at Florida Field, also known as the Swamp?
My high school football coach at Fletcher Senior High School in Jacksonville Beach, Florida told me something I hadn't known.
Running track for him in high school was a kid named Robert McGinty. He'd go on to become Auburn's placekicker in the mid-1980's. After the 1985 season, he transferred to Florida after missing a last second attempt against Alabama.
As we like to say up here in Jersey, "Can you imagine!?"
But could you blame him?
The 1986 Florida-Auburn game is considered by many Gator fans to be one of the greatest games ever played at Florida Field. In fact, many college football fans regard this game as having one of the great finishes in college football history.
At the time, Florida was 3-4 and really hadn't beaten anyone of consequence. Auburn, on the other hand, was 7-0 and ranked No. 5 in the country. With its vaunted defense leading the way and an underrated rivalry with Florida in the mix, it was a big game for the Plainsmen.
Auburn jumped all over the Gators early, forcing six first-half turnovers in route to a 17-0 lead which held until the fourth quarter.
Finally, gimpy Florida quarterback Kerwin Bell led the Gators to a touchdown to make it a 10 point game.
A little later, transfer kicker McGinty hit a 51-yard field goal to bring the Gators within a touchdown of tying things up.
With time ticking down, Florida got the ball back with under two minutes to go.
And without giving too much away, I'll let this great clip tell the rest of the story.
Kerwin Bell, the "Throwing Mayoan," would leave Florida a modern-day folk hero.
Responsible for some of the most memorable games in my Gator history, he remains one of my favorite players ever to don the orange and blue.
Currently, Bell is the Head Football Coach of the Jacksonville University Dolphins and his name comes up fairly frequently as a potential candidate whenever a coaching vacancy opens up.
For now, he seems content to build the JU program.
A friend who lives in the Jacksonville area has children who attend school with Kerwin's own kids. He tells me often of the good deeds Bell does for the school.
And just like Kerwin, it's all done under the radar, in an underrated way.