Steve Spurrier won six SEC titles at Florida but only one national championship. Under Urban Meyer, the top-ranked Gators are chasing their third BCS crown in four seasons.
That led a reporter to ask Meyer on Monday what would have been unthinkable a few years ago: Did Meyer ever want to be considered the measuring stick for a program?
Meyer first talked about admiring Nebraska's Tom Osborrne, Ohio State's Woody Hayes and Michigan's Bo Schembechler. Then he spoke of his admiration for Spurrier, without having to say his name.
"Same thing for the coach we're playing this week and what he's done," Meyer said. "I think there are winners and guys who do it the right way."
Meyer also called Williams-Brice Stadium "one of the best environments in college football." He mentioned the improvement of USC quarterback Stephen Garcia and said the Florida coaches think USC's young receivers are some of the SEC's best. The Gamecocks' defense is in the top four in the SEC.
But Florida still opened as more than a two-touchdown favorite. The Gators (9-0) have had some close calls, but they appear to be hitting their stride, having already clinched a spot in the SEC championship game against No. 2 Alabama.
The big emphasis for Florida this week is cutting down on the number of times quarterback Tim Tebow is sacked. Vanderbilt got him four times last week, and the Gators have allowed 22 sacks this season, third-most in the SEC. (The Gamecocks are the worst with 27.)
Tebow said he was going to concentrate on "knowing what the opponent's gameplan is, getting underneath throws, checking it down and getting it out of my hands quicker."
Still, the way Meyer opened his weekly news conference Monday showed how well he thinks his team is playing.
Each week the coach gives a champions award to players who "played at a championship level" in the previous game. On Monday, he listed 10 on offense, and 10 on defense.
Meyer was a bit disappointed in how he coached his special teams: The punt coverage team allowed its first yard of the season.
Such is the heady state at Florida, which is on a 19-game winning streak.
"Champions are made in November," Meyer said. "Our goal every year is to compete for a championship in November, and we're doing it. Our focus is on South Carolina, we consider them part of the championship run."