1968 Gators
(Authentic Reproduction)



At least one critical wag noted that "The Year Of The Gator is usually between January and September", a negative reference to the disappointing seasons the Gators seemed to have under Ray Graves. While the program was solid and the teams most often competitive, it seemed that their inability to capture an SEC title while loaded with talent was unacceptable and frustrating to their fans and alumni. 1968 had the mix of a great sophomore class and some seasoned vets as well as a new helmet design. The white helmet with one-inch orange center stripe now featured a distinctive interlocking "UF" logo on each side in blue with orange border trim. Larry Smith, the offensive leader scuttled the "Year Of..." accolades as he pulled a hamstring muscle before the season's opener and suffered further injury against Vanderbilt later in the year. Even with the Los Angeles Rams, he was never the back he had been prior to the injury. Despite good play from junior DB Steve Tannen, soph DE Jack Youngblood, and a 4-0 burst out of the gate, what had become an almost annual swoon ruined the year. Facing a strong Georgia team with his deteriorating 4-2-1 record, Graves did the unexpected and some said, foolhardy. He had his defensive coordinator coach the offense and his offensive coordinator coach the defense. The two newspaper notices that had fans howling read as follows: "Georgia beat Florida 51-0 in the Gator Bowl yesterday in a game in which the offense played as if it were coached by the defensive coach, and the defense played as if it were coached by the offensive coach, which happened to be the way it was." The other said it better about the 51-0 shellacking, "...the game was not as close as the score indicates." Linked to the infamous "Go for two!" decisions in the 1966 Sugar Bowl game, many felt it was time for Graves to step down. Winning the final two games brought a respectable 6-3-1 but far from the expected championship-run season. Not yet having won an SEC title, and appraising the high level of talent in his '68 freshmen players, Graves decided to give it one more shot and announced that he would coach another season.

If interested in any of these Florida helmets please click on the photos below.