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College football: Mr. Two Bits says goodbye again to Gators

About 20 minutes before today's homecoming game against Kentucky, Florida fans will take a moment to celebrate the impending end of to a legendary part of Gator football. George Edmondson, a Tampa resident who has led Florida fans in the Two Bits cheer for 60 years, will be honored in a pregame ceremony in recognition of his final season. Affectionately known as "Mr. Two Bits" by Gator fans across the nation, Edmondson, 86, plans to retire at the end of the season. Florida athletic officials are asking fans to arrive early for the special pregame ceremony.

Edmondson, who never enrolled at Florida, attended his first game along with a friend in September 1949. He felt compelled to lead the Two Bits cheer to a small group in his section of the stadium after becoming disheartened when fans booed the coaches and players as they ran out of the tunnel in a game against the Citadel.

Ironically, Edmondson is a Navy veteran who briefly attended the Citadel.

This is his second retirement. The man clad in a yellow shirt and orange-and-blue tie on game day decided to quit at the end of the 1998 season, and even had a ceremony that year, complete with a game ball from then-coach Steve Spurrier. Edmondson said he wanted to "quit while he was ahead."

But Florida fans wouldn't let him go. They would run into him and tell him how much they missed him. So he returned the next season. Now, he's giving retirement another shot.

And Florida is giving him another well-earned sendoff.

Antonya English, Times staff writer

By the numbers

0 Victories against the seven No. 1-ranked teams Oklahoma State has played in its history. The Cowboys play No. 1 Texas today.

6 Of 20 Big Ten Conference games have been decided by 10 points or fewer.

7 Of 20 Pac-10 Conference games have been decided by 10 points or fewer.

18 Of 25 SEC games — 72 percent — have been decided by 10 points or fewer.

41 Years since Michigan, 2-5 entering today's game against Michigan State, had a losing record.

Fans and karma: Every little bit helps ...

You superstitious Bulls fans out there, should USF get its first-ever win at Louisville today, can offer a small thanks to ESPN2 and a bartender in Orlando.

If you were watching First Take on ESPN2 Thursday morning, you might have been surprised to see that ESPN.com's Jemele Hill, who covered USF occasionally as a columnist at the Orlando Sentinel, was sporting a USF tie, explaining at one point that she wanted to show her support for the Bulls this week.

How did this come about? Hill explained via e-mail that she was at the Romano's Macaroni Grill restaurant in the Orlando airport, awaiting a flight on her way to ESPN's Bristol, Conn., studios, when she got into a conversation with the bartender. Leandro Ribeiro, a 2007 USF graduate, told her he enjoyed her appearances on the show, and she made a comment about his USF tie. He made an unusual request, hoping to get some karma for the Bulls: Would Hill take his tie and wear it on air? To his surprise, she said she would, and to even greater surprise, he got a phone call Thursday morning.

"My friend called and said, 'Your tie is on ESPN,' " said Ribeiro, who said he is friends with Bulls receiver Carlton Mitchell and his family and will attend Saturday's game at Louisville. "I was pretty shocked. It blew my mind. I just told her I'd give her the tie for a good cause. Anything to help the Bulls, right?"

Hill joked that she isn't that powerful when it comes to college football karma — "clearly, he hasn't seen some of my predictions," she writes. We'll just warn her in advance that if the Bulls win today, she'll have superstitious bartenders, waiters, total strangers approaching her with apparel from their school. Today, a USF tie; next week, a UTEP beanie ...

Greg Auman, Times staff writer

We-Fense

Kansas State leads the nation with seven blocked kicks in seven games, and it's no coincidence that coach Ron Prince put an emphasis on special teams when he arrived in Manhattan.

Prince doesn't even call them his special teams, but the "we-fense," which shows he holds these units in equal esteem with his offense and defense.

It started with Raheem Morris, who was the Wildcats' defensive coordinator in 2006, Prince's first year at Kansas State, before rejoining the Bucs as defensive backs coach.

"One of the things he brought with him was this idea that when you go out and play in the kicking game, this was a little bit of a buzz saying or phrase that really symbolized what we believed," Prince said. "And it was just easier for everybody to understand that you have offense, you have defense, but this is the one time where everybody on the team is going to get a chance to play together."

Hey, get that guy's number!

Five weeks ago, Matt Williams came out of the stands at a Texas Tech game to win a quarter-break promotion by kicking a 30-yard field goal. Today, the Red Raiders might give him the kicking job.

Williams is a Tarleton State transfer student who won a month of free rent with his kick at the Tech-UMass game on Sept. 20. After his successful try, Williams was walking back to his seat when he was flagged down.

"They relayed a message to me saying that Coach (Mike) Leach wanted to talk to me," Williams told RedRaiderSports.com the next day. "He told me to come into his office on Tuesday and talk to him, and then (special teams) Coach (Clay) McGuire told me to come and speak with him on Monday."

Tech coaches have sought another option after Donnie Carona and Cory Fowler had seven of their kicks blocked.

"Williams is a confident kid," McGuire said. "He's real smooth."

Coaches will wait to name a starter until just before kickoff at Kansas.

Information from the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald and Philadelphia Daily News was used in this report.

Five things

1. Maryland, which has won five straight against ranked teams, is the only team that has beaten three ranked opponents this year. The Terps also lost at Middle Tennessee.

2. For the first time since 1990, Delaware didn't have a TD at home last week against William & Mary (27-3).

3. Mike Stoops' record is only 23-31 in four-plus seasons at Arizona, but last Saturday's win against California was Stoops' sixth over a Top 25 opponent. The Wildcats host No. 6 USC today.

4. In an odd quirk of the schedule, this week finds each of the game's four winningest active coaches facing off against another. No. 1 Joe Paterno (380 victories) gets the marquee when Penn State visits Ohio State and No. 3 Jim Tressel (215) for Big Ten supremacy. That comes after No. 2 Bobby Bowden (378) welcomes Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer (214) to Doak Campbell Stadium.

5. Credit ESPN with some delicious irony by picking Bob Davie as color analyst for Notre Dame's visit to Washington. That puts each of the past three Irish coaches in the stadium — Charlie Weis on the ND sideline, Tyrone Willingham on the Huskies' and Davie in the booth. Is Lou Holtz available?

College football: Mr. Two Bits says goodbye again to Gators 10/24/08 [Last modified: Friday, October 24, 2008 8:31pm]

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