Tuesday August 28, 2012Urban, Freddy and Frieda, plus a few more facts about Bowling Green State University
Updated: 10:18am, August 29
Updated: 10:18am, August 29
The Gators kick off their 106th season of football on Saturday afternoon against Bowling Green. The Falcons will open their 94th season.
You might think that with 200 years of gridiron history between them that the Gators and Falcons bumped into each other somewhere along the way, maybe in a non-conference, neutral-site game once in Toledo or Tampa.
Nope. This is the first meeting between the schools. However, they do share a significant piece of history: Urban Meyer. (That's him to the right in his head-coaching debut, a win at Missouri 11 years ago)
After several years as an assistant coach, Meyer became a head coach for the first time when he took over the Falcons in 2001. In two seasons at Bowling Green Meyer led the Falcons to 17 wins in 23 games before moving on to Utah.
Following a two-year stint at Utah, Meyer took over the Gators in 2005 and in six seasons, he led Florida to a pair of national titles. He also recruited Tim Tebow to Gainesville.
These days Meyer is back in his native Ohio in his first season as head coach at Ohio State, a couple of hours away from Bowling Green. No word out of Columbus which team Meyer will be rooting for on Saturday, but if recent history is any indication, he would be smart to go with the Gators.
Florida has won 22 consecutive season openers and look to extend that streak against the Falcons of the Mid-American Conference.
What else do we know about Bowling Green State University? Well, I can vouch for its new basketball arena, named the Stroh Center. It’s a state-of-the-art facility.
The Gators women’s basketball team beat Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament there in March before falling to eventual national champion Baylor two days later.
Other than that, about all I saw was the hotel and the Chipotle across the street from the arena.
You probably hoped for more than that, right? No worries. Thanks to this thing called the Internet I was able to dig up some info on the Gators’ first opponent of the 2012 season.
BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY
Head coach: Dave Clawson (4th season, 14-23)
Last season: 5-7
Did you know? Clawson was offensive coordinator at Tennessee in 2008 in head coach Phil Fulmer’s final season.
Heavy lifter: Falcons defensive lineman Chris Jones can squat 665 pounds, clean lift 380 pounds and bench 415. Jones’ squat and clean lift marks are school records.
Familiar face: Bowling Green defensive back Darrell Hunter was a high school teammate of Florida’s Matt Elam and Jacoby Brissett at Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer.
School spirit: Florida has Albert and Alberta, the two most famous Gators on campus. At Bowling Green, Freddy and Frieda Falcon are headliners.
Famous alumni: Former Cy Young winner Orel Hershiser pitched for the Falcons before becoming a star for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hockey is also big at Bowling Green, where former NHL star Rob Blake played in college. ESPN sportscaster Jay Crawford, who once worked in Tampa, is a BGSU alum. Former NBA star Nate Thurmond, long before battling Wilt Chamberlain and others in the pros, starred for the Falcons. Prior to his career as a comedian, Tim Conway studied speech and radio at BGSU.
Football history: Before he became a national figure as head coach at West Virginia, Don Nehlen was Bowling Green’s coach from 1968-76, leading the Falcons to a 53-35-4 record.
Rivalry road: Bowling Green’s top rival is Toledo, located 20 miles up Interstate 75. The schools have faced each other every year since 1980 in what is often referred to as the Battle of I-75 or the Black Swamp Showdown.
Name game: The Falcons play at Doyt Perry Stadium, named after the school’s football coach from 1955-64. Perry led the Falcons to the small-college national title in 1959 and once worked at Ohio State on the same staff as Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler.