When The Heart of Gator Nation Was Broken, We Stepped Up To Help Mend It
By BUDDY MARTIN
Dear Scott Stricklin: You don’t really know us, but that’s OK. You will. Maybe, however, you want to take our name down now: The Gator Nation Kingdom.
We were there when things went Humpty-Dumpty late last November and Gator football was coachless, headless and – in the eyes of critics – maybe worthless.
We’re not rich, powerful, influential, political people with corporate jets and expense accounts. Mostly we are blue collar folks – teachers and firemen and oil-riggers and cops and waiters and waitresses and sales people … with maybe a banker, Internet worker, author or football coach and football player thrown in.
In fact there probably aren’t 100 season ticket holders among our group. But we are the worker bees who were taking care of the hive while you were busy going about the business of refurbishing the University of Florida’s athletic program upon your arrival in 2017.
Oh, we buy tickets – about 50 of us will be sitting in the South end zone Saturday for the opening game. And we’ve taken up a collection for a tent on the Gator Walk, hoping to raise money with raffles and donations to keep it for the season. The down payment came from our piggy banks.
We are a collection of 4,500 Gator diehards with the slogan “Stay Loyal to the Kingdom,” which we did when others were scurrying for cover. We did, and we are. We don’t believe in bashing each other, players are coaches. Which is not to say we won’t boo or complain.
There are 4,500 of us now and we make up the 800-thread fabric of the true Gator Nation. Gator Loyalists, if there is such a term. Our slogan is “Stay Loyal to The Kingdom.” We’re the true heart of the Gator Nation.
We talk almost every night on The Buddy Martin Show on Facebook, where we sometimes have a squabble or two, but always end the night in a good place.
And we are committed to being truthful in what we do and say. If trolls or cynics try to disrupt or invade our space, they get crushed by our guardian moderators and sent “To The Pit of Misery.” We don’t take no crap!
This began somewhat out of desperation when a few of us grew weary of the internal strife and insurrection among various factions in the tribe. It was our “Crown Prince” Brenden, one of the founders, who finally grew weary of the treasonous diatribe and called for sovereignty by invoking the mantra “In all of weather, we all stick together…”
At a moment when confusion and chaos reigned as you were looking for a replacement for Jim McElwain and it appeared Chip Kelly was your first or second choice, information was scant, if not non-existent we went for truth.
So in November when the UF plane returned from a surreptitious recruiting trip to check out Chip Kelly, we sort of “ambushed” you at the Ocala Airport. We want to apologize for any embarrassment we may have caused you, but the Gator Nation Kingdom was on a truth mission.
What’s important is that the seeds of The Gator Nation Kingdom were sowed that night. And you wound up with the right coach. You’ve also got a group of 4,500 of the greatest fans in all of college football. And they’ve got your back. On that count you and Dan are already 1-0 on the season.
The Night We Were Born