1969 - 70 Gators
(Authentic Reproduction)



Ray Graves did a terrific job recruiting, especially with the limitations imposed by Florida's stricter-than-the-rest-of-the-SEC qualifications. This gave him teams that were always solid and competitive, but teams that also disappointed the boosters and fans because the ever-elusive SEC title was expected at some point in time. He wanted one more season to enjoy the "Super Soph" class, as they were known, and make a bid for a major bowl game and the conference championship. He decked the team out in a new orange shell with a white one-inch center stripe and flanked these with three-quarter-inch blue stripes. A white interlocking "UF" logo, trimmed in blue was placed on each side of the headgear making for a very distinctive appearance. QB John Reaves was the soph leader and he didn't disappoint. Following neighbor and former Gator RB Larry Smith to Gainsville, he set the bar by taking on Top Ten Houston in the opener and put on such an exciting show, including a 70-yard TD bomb to Carlos Alvarez on his first pass in the 58-34 win, that paying customers who had heard the game on the radio were still streaming in during the fourth quarter. Soph RB's Tommy Durrance and Mike Rich did the pounding as Reaves threw to TE Jim Yancey and soph consensus All American Carlos Alvarez, a Cuban refugee who was so fast he needed a double team at all times. Upper classmen Kim Helton at center (future University Of Houston head coach) and captain and tackle Mac Steen led up front. The defense with DE Jack Youngblood and senior DB Steve Tannen who became the Jets first draft choice and used his hurdler's speed for them for five years, held up the defense and with the embarrassment of the 51-0 Georgia drubbing of '68 always on their minds, lost only to Auburn (with Reaves throwing nine interceptions) although the 13-13 tie with Georgia stung because once again, it cost them the SEC title.  
If the 1969 season would have ended at 8-1-1, Graves could have retired gracefully but SEC Champion Tennessee and Florida agreed to meet in the Gator Bowl while rumors swirled about UT head coach Doug Dickey, a former Gator QB, taking over as Florida's head coach. Both teams were angry and distracted and when Florida beat the Vols 14-13, the players could only see that they were getting "the losing coach" as their new mentor. Compounded by Graves "second thoughts" that perhaps he should stay for another title run, his retirement and move to full time Athletic Director proved to be messy and had a psychological carry-over into 1970.

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