1971 - 75 Gators
(Authentic Reproduction)




Dickey's recruiting picked up as the State Of Florida altered the admissions rule and allowed 145 yearly admissions to in-state high school graduates that had a minimum of a C average but who otherwise did not score high enough on the admissions entrance exam. A number of these spots were reserved for football players and Dickey took advantage of it. Unfortunately, it wasn't obvious in '71. Injuries to receiver Carlos Alvarez made him ineffective and FB Tommy Durrance had only guard Fred Abbott as a consistently outstanding O-lineman. Leonard George played well at DB but the Super Sophs who were now seniors put in a miserable season that finished at 4-7. They dropped the first five, three of those to SEC big-boys Bama, Tennessee, and LSU, won the "must" game over Florida State and then lost to Auburn and Georgia in successive weekends by a 14-88 aggregate. Going into the Miami finale, there was a lot at stake for the two teams who otherwise, were non-factors. When new Miami head coach Fran Curci was in his last season at Tampa in '70, he publicly noted that the Gators were "cry-babies" and QB John Reaves came into the game with an outside chance of exceeding Jim Plunkett's NCAA marks. With a poor offense, Reaves needed 344 yards to become the NCAA all-time career passing leader and the Gainsville boys came out throwing. Willie Jackson, Durrance, and a semi-healthy Alvarez caught everything thrown their way. It was Florida 17-0 at the half and they continued the air attack. Needing but thirteen yards for the record and little time left, Miami though behind, was playing keep-away and running out the clock, only to frustrate Reaves' record-breaking attempt. With 1:20 left and Miami at the Gator seven, the entire Florida defense dropped onto their bellies or their backs without being touched by a Hurricane so that Miami's QB could literally walk into the end zone on a roll-out. Florida took the kickoff and Reaves threw completions to wrap up the career passing yardage mark with a five-yard cushion, a total of 7549! Completing 33 of 50 passes for 348 yards also completed Reaves great Gator career although the '71 record of 4-7 was a huge let-down. However, the win against Miami was redemption and the entire team spontaneously charged toward the Orange Bowl end zone and dove into the pond and fountain that housed Miami Dolphin mascot Flipper in a bizarre ending to a tough season. With photos of Gator players frolicking in the pool and Alvarez atop a flag pole, Dickey was called onto the carpet by the press and the NCAA but cleared of a charge of poor sportsmanship in what has remained "The Gator Flop Game." Reaves went on to a disappointing NFL career with the Eagles, Bengals, and Oilers, took a few seasons to run the show for Spurrier's USFL Tampa Bay Bandits, and then returned to the NFL for two replacement games in 1987 with the Buccaneers. Durrance was the star running back for the WFL Jacksonville Sharks in 1974.
The Gators continued to wear the headgear introduced for the 1971 season and maintained the distinctive style through 1975; an orange shell with a one-inch blue center stripe that was flanked by one-half-inch white stripes and the  sides adorned with a white interlocking "UF" logo that was trimmed in blue. In 1972, Dickey's 5-5-1 season was a turnaround that was bigger than the comparative records of 1971 and '72. While soph LB David Ortega was everywhere the opponents were, and teamed with Fred Abbott who was moved from O-guard, it was the offense that had a new look. QB Chan Gailey who had played in Reaves shadow and who is now the head coach of Georgia Tech and the former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, started the season but gave way in the SMU opener to David Bowden. Even with Willie Jackson and 6'6" Hank Foldberg whose father had been the Texas A&M head coach, as willing targets, Dickey had a surprise find that was not in the press guide nor in the opening day game program. Assistant Lindy Infante had insisted on recruiting Carlos Alvarez when few thought he looked like a big-time player, and he was successful. Now, after watching a pick-up basketball game in a Miami park, he pushed hard to bring in another obscure find, a former Miami Jackson H.S. football player who had gone to Tennessee-Martin to play basketball, dropped out, and was now delivering Kosher food in Miami Beach. Exploding as a runner and receiver in the first game of the season, 5'10", 175-pound Nat Moore was destined to be the most exciting and effective player the SEC had seen in decades. His 845 yards on the ground, 25 receptions, 13 TD's, and 20.8 yard kickoff return average earned him All SEC honors and some All American mention. Wins over Florida State and Miami, with the emergence of Moore made this break-even year one of great hope.
With a team of his own recruits, much was expected in 1973 despite a "killer" schedule. Unfortunately, Nat Moore went down with a foot injury as did FB Vince Kendricks (who spent '74 with the Falcons) in the Mississippi State game which made for a four-game skid, all to SEC opponents. At 2-4, a press conference was held where Dickey stated he would not resign due to fan unrest, and he had the backing of the University President. The players pulled together and with new QB Don Gaffney, the first African-American to start at that position for the Gators, they utilized All SEC WR Lee McGriff and TE Hank Foldberg, Jr. to catch enough passes to upset Auburn 12-8 (Florida's first ever win at Auburn's home field), upset Georgia 11-10, and terrorize Florida State as Moore returned with a great 105 yards in 15 carries outing. LB's Glenn Cameron, Ralph Ortega, and Sammy Green contributed to the 7-4 season which ended with a Tangerine Bowl loss in twenty-six degree Florida weather to Miami (Ohio), 16-7. This was Nat Moore's final year of eligibility and one of the most dynamic players in Gator history, despite his relatively brief playing time, went on to a stellar career lasting thirteen years with the Miami Dolphins. With FB Jimmy DuBose clearing the way, freshman RB Tony Green burst upon the scene in 1974 to break the single-season rushing record with 856 yards to augment the running-before-passing approach of QB Don Gaffney in the Florida Wishbone. The strength of the defense was in the linebackers, Glenn Cameron, the Bengals first round pick who had a great eleven-year career for them, Ralph Ortega (Falcons '75-78, Dolphins 79-80), and Sammy Green. Wayne Fields did an effective job in the defensive backfield and the 8-3 record put them into the Sugar Bowl against powerful Nebraska where they lost 13-10. The Wishbone clicked again in '75 with QB  Gaffney (with Jimmy Fisher filling in when Gaffney missed some time to injury), FB Jimmy DuBose who set a single-season school record with 1307 yards, and HB Green although Green was inconsistent and often played poorly. The 302.4 per game output was better than the vaunted Alabama attack and DuBose went on to a three-year stint with the Bucs. WR Wes Chandler added his 457 yards in receptions to the overall yardage total with ends Derrick Gaffney and Lee McGriff (with the Bucs in '76) lending support. LB Sammy Green was the defensive star going on to play for the Seahawks and Oilers in a five-year NFL career, and the Gators beat everyone they were supposed to except Georgia, losing 10-7 in a game that cost them the SEC title. The season was completed in the Gator Bowl, dropping a 13-0 contest to Maryland. The 9-3 record and third consecutive bowl game gave Dickey the security he had lacked.

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