"UNTOLD: SWAMP KINGS" DYNASTY & DOWNFALL

2023-08-24 · 4 min read · NFL/Football
Florida quarterback Tim Tebow with coach Urban Meyer

Michael Conroy/AP | Kim Klement/USA Today Sports | AP Photo/Phil Sandlin

The 2005-10 run the Florida Gators had was, in the words of Urban Meyer, "Unfucking Believable."
With his militaristic views on operating a football team, Coach Urban Meyer hit Florida like a hurricane. He took pride in coaching "the toughest program in the country." However, the SEC rocked him just as hard. While Meyer's spread offence set the stage for modern-day football as we know it. After a perfect 4-0 start at Florida, Urban Meryer's high-flying offence was exposed by the dominant defences of the SEC. Dan Mullen and Meyer devised an offence in which a quarterback can't only sling it, but take off with his legs. A running back that can't only find gaps in the line, but can catch the ball from the backfield. While the spread offence wasn't ready to adapt to the SEC when Meyer arrived, he knew he needed an essential piece. Then he found Tim Tebow.
The second episode, "A New Begining," opens with a Tim Tebow montage that will send chills down your spine. The 2006 Florida Gators embodied the ethos of a Rocky movie. Despite the strife before Tebow suited up for Flordia, the freshman became the ultimate option for Meyer's spread offence. Chris Leak took most of the snaps and stretched the field with his arm. However, Tebow bulldozed defenders down with determination, intensity and strength. Tebow's prowess ultimately got the first down on 4th & 1 at Tenessee. Tebow threw the "jump pass" to beat LSU. Tebow scored the go-ahead touchdown against South Carolina. Tebow told Meyer he'd score to secure the University of Florida Gators' second national championship in 100 years. The second episode is a spectacle that thrills the viewer visually with quick edits and a soundtrack that embodies a true underdog story that everyone can relate to.
The 2007 Florida Gators featured in episode three, "Trouble in the Swamp," were the polar opposite of the 2006 underdogs. The 07 Gators were an arrogant, cocky team that underachieved because they were entitled to greatness they did not earn. Between arrests and ghosts of the past, this team was not prepared to win a National Championship. Despite the team's struggle, one player kept his focus, Tim Tebow. When his teammates were partying, Tebow was lifting; when the guys went to the club, Tebow was in the film room. The sophomore quarterback went on to win the Heisman Trophy in 2007, cementing his legacy as the best player in college football.
In 2008, the team followed Tebow's example, and instead of following Brandon Spikes to parties, they followed him to the weight room. With Tim Tebow as the go-to signal caller, that Gator's team's success changed how we view football today. A group with heart and determination that lost to an inferior foe early and lived up to the promises of their QB, who apologized and made a promise to play harder than anyone ever had before him. Tebow promised to push his team to greatness, and they delivered. The Gators weren't the underdogs this time entering the National Championship. They were a different team from the 06 underdogs and the underachieving 07 head cases.
The 2008 Flordia Gators were one of the best teams that ever played football. From the spread offence efficiency with Percy Harvin, Aaron Hernandez and Tim Tebow to the defence featuring Brandon Spikes, Major Wright and Joe Hadyen, to name a few.
"It changed the history of college football in the South," ESPN analyst Paul Finebaun said on "Swamp Kings."
The first half of the fourth episode is a visceral experience that proves heart, determination, and talent trump all. To this day, Tebow's legendary speeches to the media and his teammates will inspire you to chase our goals.
The 2009 team had all the talent to get the job done. Still, instead of arrogance imploding their conquest of a third national championship in four years, it was pressure. The players and coaching staff echo throughout episode four, "The Pain of Greatness," that the fun in the game has dissipated. Tebow's teammates were jealous of his success, and instead of following by example, they turned on each other. Despite a perfect (12-0) start, it was over after their loss to Alabama in the SEC title game. There would be no National Championship for the stacked 2009 Gators team. Tebow, Spikes, Wright, Hernandez and Hayden were all NFL-bound. Urban Meyer stepped down, and the dynasty was over. While Meyer would recant his decision and return for the 2010 season, it would be his last year in coaching in Florida. He was done thereafter. Walking away from The Swamp, Florida and College Football for the foreseeable future.
"Swamp Kings" is a pure perception of storytelling, football, sports, and life. The Hero. The authoritative leader. The underdogs. The cocky champions. The Kings who regained their crown. The implosion of jealousy and pressure. While all of these are familiar compositions of documentaries, it's rare for a single team to endure all those experiences in a mere four years. While the show's focus does not necessarily show us the struggles of Aaron Hernandez, and the failure of Tebow and Meyer to find similar success at the NFL level, it's not meant to. This documentary focuses on the relentless winning and possibly tyrannical persona of Urban Meyer. Tim Tebow's greatness. Brandon Spikes's growth. The pressure of competing and performing daily on and off the field and facing the consequences of our decisions.
While the series' score, editing and direction make us root for these Gators of yesteryears, they also relate to everyday lives. Whether it inspires you to conquer your demons, challenges you to be great, or simply have you stoked for football to return, "Swamp Kings" is an all-encompassing documentary that will remind you of the beautiful, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, heroic game that is football and journey that is life.
8.2/10
Sports Tree Profile

By: Conner Rowntree

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