University of Florida

The Florida Gators light up their Swamp

The University of Florida has added plenty of neon light to their iconic signs inside Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville.
The University of Florida has added plenty of neon light to their iconic signs inside Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville. twitter.com/GatorsFB

Steve Spurrier famously nicknamed the Florida Gators’ home stadium ‘The Swamp’ back in 1992.

The name stuck and it has become synonymous with Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Well, it’s now Steve Spurrier-Florida Field, but we digress.

On Tuesday, the school unveiled new signage on stadium walls which light up ‘The Swamp’ nickname in glorious blue-and-orange neon.

Glorious, of course, if you’re a Gator. To everyone else...

“The 'Swamp' is a place where only Gators get out alive,” Spurrier told then-Gainesville Sun columnist Mike Bianchi on June 9, 1992.

“The 'Swamp' is where Gators live. We feel comfortable there, but we hope our opponents feel tentative. A swamp is hot and sticky and can be dangerous. We feel this is an appropriate nickname for our stadium.”

According to a UF story published in June to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the new nickname, Bianchi’s story came out the summer after the Spurrier-coached Gators won their first official SEC title and beat No. 3 Florida State to close out the 1991 regular season in Gainesville.

The Gators have since won eight SEC crowns and three national championships. Their championship years are also adorned in neon lights.

“I knew immediately, despite some eye-rolling among UF administrators, that the 'Swamp' was yet another stroke of Spurrier brilliance,” Bianchi, who is now a columnist at the Orlando Sentinel told the UF website in June.

“I knew it because Spurrier absolutely loved it. He was giddy about it. And you knew if it excited him, it was damn sure going to excite Gator Nation. That's because Spurrier thinks like the most rabid Gator fan thinks. He is the ultimate Bull Gator, and he came up with the perfect name at the perfect time.”

The Gators likely would have unveiled the new signage at their scheduled home opener last weekend against Northern Colorado. That game was supposed to kick off at 6 p.m. before being moved to noon and then eventually canceled because of Hurricane Irma.

Florida makes its 2017 home debut Saturday in a key SEC game against the rival Tennessee Volunteers — a school Spurrier had plenty of fun with over the years.

The Gators and Vols kick off at 3:30 on CBS.

George Richards: 305-376-4995, @GeorgeRichards

UP NEXT FOR THE GATORS

▪ Who: No. 23 Tennessee Volunteers (2-0) at No. 24 Florida Gators (0-1).

▪ When, where: 3:30 p.m.; Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville.

▪ TV/Radio: CBS-4; WINZ-940.

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