Dooley’s Dozen: 12 good Gators teams that should have played in bowls

It is a bit torturous for Florida football fans to listen to the constant yammering about this season’s bowl games.

And that jingle …

It’s the most

pitiful time of the year

With all of the bowl games out there, Florida is in a bad way after a 5-7 season that wasn’t that far from being 8-4.

There have been teams that were deserving, but for one reason or another were not invited to participate in the free swag, rubber chicken and visits to Dave & Buster’s.

This team was good enough to be invited, but missed a kick here and couldn’t stop a fourth-and-17 there and won a guy a Heisman Trophy in Baton Rouge.

Today in the Dooley’s Dozen, we look back on 12 teams that could’a and should’a made a bowl game, but – like these Gators – went home for the holidays.

Let’s start with the best

Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Florida’s 1984 team survived a coaching change three games into the season and still went 9-1-1. But because the Gators – led by a walk-on freshman quarterback named Kerwin Bell – were on probation, the SEC executive committee in late November voted not to let the Gators go bowling.

They should have been in the Sugar Bowl as the conference champs.

And to another great team that got the shaft

Scott Halleran/Allsport
Scott Halleran/Allsport

The 1990 team was Steve Spurrier’s first at UF and he set the world on fire with a 9-2 record with the great Shane Matthews at quarterback.

Unfortunately, it was early in the season when the SEC made the decision to ban Florida from a bowl because of a couple of ticky-tack violations discovered in its pursuit of basketball coach Norm Sloan.

And yet another that might have been the best

Allen Dean Steele/Getty Images
Allen Dean Steele/Getty Images

Galen Hall became Florida’s permanent coach in 1985 after serving as interim the previous year and he still had the studs (even if some were ill-gotten gains). Florida went 9-1-1 with safeties Louis Oliver and Jarvis Williams making life miserable on opposing offenses.

This group did at least know before the season they were ineligible, but they still were named New York Times national champs.

Just a reminder, there are 41 bowl games

Courtesy: University of Florida SID
Courtesy: University of Florida SID

But there were not in 1963. Florida went 6-3-1 and beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Those Gators also beat Georgia, Miami and Florida State. My gosh, if that happened today people would be screaming in the streets.

Of course, there were only nine bowl games then and Florida was still not a national power.

Now we’re in the way back machine

AP Photo
AP Photo

I always feel that when I start writing about historical teams at UF, the 1928 team must be included. That team went 8-1, losing its last game at Tennessee, and led the nation in scoring. But there was only the Rose Bowl in the olden days and it was decided by a safety.

Charlie Bachman’s first Florida team was something, beating Georgia and Clemson at neutral sites and losing the finale by a single point.

They weren’t that good, but...

AP Photo/Mark Foley
AP Photo/Mark Foley

… in 1972, I was a young man who had all of the newspaper clippings for the season up on the bedroom wall. Maybe that’s why I became a writer. But that team was special to me even though it went 5-5-1.

That team smashed FSU in Tallahassee 42-13, beat Miami and lost so many games by one score. I wanted to see them play again just to watch Nat Moore.

The Wait ‘Til Next Year season

Jimmy Holt / The Tennessean-Nashville
Jimmy Holt / The Tennessean-Nashville

That was the headline in the Gainesville Sun after Florida lost in North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 1968 thanks to seven lost fumbles. The team was supposed to finally win the SEC, but only lost to Georgia 51-0.

Still, I can close my eyes and see Larry Smith scoring the game-winner on a bad hammy to close the 6-3-1 season out against Miami.

Spurrier got snubbed one other time

AP Photo/File
AP Photo/File

And that was in 1964 when he was a sophomore sharing the quarterback position with Tommy Shannon. Florida had a 7-3 season (doesn’t a seven-win season sound awesome these days?) that included a win over LSU in the last game of the season after the game was postponed by a hurricane.

Sound familiar?

This was a strange year

Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

By 1986, Florida was starting to feel the effects of probation. But the Gators still had a season to remember even if the record ended up 6-5. The Gators had to deal with Bell’s injury during the season, but he and Ricky Nattiel had games to remember against Auburn and Georgia on back-to-back weeks. And they beat FSU on the road to end the season.

Something got in the way

Jack Corn / The Tennessean
Jack Corn / The Tennessean

How else would you explain a team like Florida in 1970, beating FSU and Georgia, then going to Tampa to beat Kentucky to finish 7-4 in Doug Dickey’s first year and not going to a bowl? Well, here’s what happened – back-to-back losses to Tennessee and Auburn by a combined 101-21.

This was a very emotional year. Let’s leave it at that.

A year after the Golden Boy

AP Photo/File
AP Photo/File

Spurrier was gone and Florida wasn’t the same in 1967. The Gators spent all season trying to figure it out at quarterback but did manage to go 6-4 and had one of the greatest plays of all time with Richard Trapp’s catch-and-run against Georgia. But this team finished with losses to FSU and Miami.

No soup for you.

The beginning of the end

Syndication: The Tennessean
Syndication: The Tennessean

The Dickey Experiment almost worked, but then it started to go bad around Fourth-and-Dumb time. In 1977, Dickey’s Gators beat Tennessee, beat Georgia with Wes Chandler lining up at tailback and beat Miami in the Orange Bowl.

But after being ranked most of the year, a 37-9 loss at home against FSU meant these Gators were out of the polls and out of the bowls.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire