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OH, THE PAIN, THE PAIN!

Gator fans, we feel your pain. Your two biggest rivals _ Florida State and Tennessee _ beat you this season and are playing for the national title. Do you pull for Tennessee (how could you?) or do you pull for FSU (you want Bobby Bowden to win another title?).

We asked for your comments. Here's what you had to say.

Ever since I was born in Gainesville in 1969, I have not had to make such a painful or wrenching decision. I have never felt like such a traitor to my beloved Gators. My first wish would be that a great sink hole would open up in the Fiesta Bowl to prevent me from having to choose either team, but barring that natural disaster I have decided to root for Tennessee.

But only because Peyton Manning is not there _ that would have been just too, too much to bear.

Painfully yours,

Julie E. Malphurs

via e-mail

I would pull for the University of North Korea over FSU.

Besides, we are Florida Gators first, then SEC brethren. While we might have our "sibling rivalries," we will pull for each other for the good of the conference.

Terri L. Guy

via e-mail

This Gator fan is pulling for the Vols, and here's why:

1. FSU's win is more recent; thus it still hurts more.

2. FSU fans live and work among us Gators, so they are much more in our faces and need to be quieted down. Gator fans in Tennessee no doubt feel differently.

3. It would be nice to have the national championship in the SEC. One could argue, of course, that it would be nice to have it in Florida, but see reason No. 2 as to why I think most Gators stay with reason No. 3.

John Bowers

Orlando

Last week I made up my mind not to read anything about the game and to spend the night of Jan. 4 reading a good book or organizing my sock drawer. After all, this is a Gator fan's worst nightmare (well, next to losing the national championship to FSU 52-20, which we know is exactly the opposite of what happened two years ago).

But after reflection, I have decided reluctantly to root very quietly for the Vols. For one thing, they are representing the toughest conference in college football, the SEC. And second, if the Vols win, I figure the bragging can last only until the third game of next season, when the Gators kick their butts in Gainesville.

Roy Dickson

St. Petersburg

An FSU-UT matchup is admittedly a Gator fan's worst nightmare. As a UF alumnus, here's how I see it:

Tennessee has the chance to make the Southeastern Conference proud. If Tennesee won, it could at least make an undisputed claim at the national championship. An FSU victory would be another tainted title, just like in '93. While they have beaten some good teams and admittedly have had a decent schedule, an argument that FSU is No. 1 (if it beats UT) is totally subjective. Who's to say Ohio State doesn't have claim to No. 1? Let's not forget, FSU's loss came to lowly unranked North Carolina State.

Jon Zimmer

Temple Terrace

As much as I hate to say it, I'm going to be rooting for Tennessee. I'm a sophomore at the University of Florida, but all my relatives, including both my parents, are FSU fans. Die-hard FSU fans. Being surrounded by them in Tally over Thanksgiving was hell enough! (My Grandma can be especially vicious!)

FSU cannot win, even if it is Tennessee.

Lara Mann

Dunedin

Who would you have wanted to win WWII if we had lost? My gut is hurting being a Gator fan for 18 years. My son being an FSU fan gives me no option but to go for Free Shoes-U.

Robert Ervin

Spring Hill

SEC SEC SEC!! Hope the Volunteers win 2-0. But only after that FSU soccer player bounces a last-second field goal attempt off the goal post, an official blows a call and the FSU quarterback accidentally steps out of his end zone for a safety.

Joel Hersch

Clearwater

Welcome to the apocalypse

Well, if an FSU-Tennessee Fiesta Bowl for all the marbles isn't the end of the world, it has to be the next worst thing (to a Gator fan). Whom do you root for? Personally, I'm rooting for an asteroid the size of, say, Tempe to flatten the whole revolting mess.

Much as it pains me, if I had to pick one of these teams to back, it would have to be (cringe) Tennessee. Why? Because at least they would do the bulk of their gloating up in Tennessee, whereas if those other guys win, the state of Florida will devolve into an intolerable garnet and gold brag-fest.

So if you're a Gator fan, you should root for Tennessee. But if you're a betting man, put the farm on the Semis, because there's no way Fulmer's going to out-coach Bowden. This one's over already. FSU 36, UT 13. I think I'll move to Alaska.

Sincerely,

Marcos F. Ibarguen

St. Petersburg

We're 100 percent Gator fans. But since they aren't playing for the national championship, we'll be pulling for the Florida team. It's not that we want Bobby Bowden to win another title, but we feel it's great for a Florida team to win one.

Go Seminoles!

J.R. and Rita Johnson

via e-mail

This has to be one of my worst nightmares come true: the two teams I hate the most playing for it all.

If the 'Noles win, I'm gonna hear it everywhere I go from all those FSU fans who never actually went to school there (you know the type). On the other hand, I can't stand the Vols or their fans, for that matter. I don't know why, really; maybe the fact that I go into convulsions every time I hear Rocky Top has something to do with it.

Anyway, if you put a gun to my head I'd go with Florida State. Like the Gators, they're a better team than the Vols, and I really believe that Tennessee's luck this year is about to run out. After all, this is the Tennessee Volunteers we're talkin' about!

Vijay Hegde

Largo

Actually I am rooting for the officials to blow a crucial call and give the Seminoles a disputable victory. This way my wife is happy that her team won (mixed marriages are tough sometimes), I get to laugh at Tennessee for losing and finally, whenever some uppity Seminole opens his mouth, I get to shut him right up and run my mouth about bribed officials and the need for instant replay at college games.

David E. Ho

Clearwater

Yes, I'm a big Gator fan, and yes, the Fiesta Bowl is going to be tough enough to watch, much less root for someone. But if I have to choose a side I guess I'll be rooting for FSU. I have to say that I hate Tennessee more then FSU, and if the national title has to go to one of them, I'd rather it stay in the state.

Tennessee is the one who pointed its finger at Florida when it got suspended, it should never have beaten Florida (just because we couldn't convert a field goal), and if Tennessee loses that will be two years in a row and it will be labeled the Buffalo Bills of college football.

GO FSU! (Can you believe this is coming from a Gator fan?)

Robert Russell

St. Petersburg

For a Gator, the Fiesta Bowl is a quintessential "meteor" game _ the only thing you can do is pull for a meteor to hit the stadium.

Barring a meteor strike, I'll be pulling for Tennessee. It's a conference thing. Go SEC!

Mary Weigly

via e-mail

The answer to the question "As a Gator, who do you root for in the Fiesta Bowl, the Vols or the Noles?" is neither! You root for a close, entertaining game that you can curse at because you know the Gators should be there.

Although you should pull for the SEC against the ACC, you can't pull for the Vols because they did not really beat the Gators this year, we beat ourselves. The better team did not win. Also, as a Gator from '90 to '95, I cannot forget the losses to the Vols in '90 and '92, which killed our title hopes. I suppose I could root for the 'Noles since I am a Gator from Buffalo and liked the 'Noles in high school, but they are in the most overrated conference in the country and to be a Gator is to hate the Noles!

Jason Brydges

via e-mail

Are you kidding? To even imply there is a question here is ludicrous! All true Gators will either root against FSU (not so much for UT) or simply argue through the whole game about why the Gators should be there and pinpoint the reasons why they're not!

How could Gator fans pull for UT? Easy _ go SEC, keep it in the family. FSU joined the ACC for basketball (which UF pounded it in this year while starting four freshmen), so it said, but all it can do is beat up on Wake Forest and the like while going downhill in hoops!

You have to realize the UF-UT rivalry is not old at all in comparison with the UF-FSU rivalry. Ten years after FSU went co-ed, UF would still put Florida State Woman's University up on the scoreboard when they played in G-ville!

Gators don't like either school, but we hate FSU. There is no question as to who we will root for, no question!

Damian Beiter

Safety Harbor

I am a Gator fan and I have felt the pain of an FSU and a Tennessee loss. FSU, Tennesee; Tennessee, FSU who do you root for?

Tennessee, your conference rival, or FSU, your in-state rival?

If you're a Gator, it's simple. Root for FSU? Not in this lifetime.

If you're a Gator, the only football in Florida that matters is Gator Football!

So go Vols, and bring home another championship to the SEC, the toughest conference in college football.

David Tackett

Palm Harbor

The best thing that could happen would be a blimp crashing on the field, taking care of all the Florida State and Tennessee players.

If that does not happen, any and every Gator fan must pull for the Vols because they are in the mighty SEC.

I do not like Vols fans, but I hate FSU fans.

Bret Harper

Largo

As any loyal SEC fan, I can only hope that Phil Fulmer and the Tennessee Vols can outgun the Semis for an SEC national title. It is only fitting to find the only two teams to beat the Gators this season are to play for the national title. Tee Martin and a very good Tennesee offense should provide more speed than Mickey Andrews can handle.

Phil, please keep those Vols off any on-field logos for fear St. Bobby can have them ejected! Flaming spears and horse hooves are okay, just don't hop up and down on the sacred Chief Osceola. Go SEC!!

Tim Malone

Dunedin

A true Gator could never root for a 'Nole. Steve Spurrier was in my class at UF, and I was at the game in Tallahassee the first time FSU beat the Gators. I have hated FSU ever since! Go SEC! Go Gators! And Go Vols!

Marlene Eichelberger

Clearwater

I am sure you will print plenty of "trash talk" opinons from Gator fans. I hope you will also print a few views wishing both teams good luck and no injuries. This UF grad has reasons to support both teams. FSU, because it represents our state; and UT, because it represents the SEC.

I'm going to have to go SEC and root for UT. I am looking forward to watching a good, clean football game.

Jo Schantz

Inverness

I despise Florida State University.

As a Florida Gator, I also dislike Tennessee. The truth, however, is that we had a shot at both these schools and if we would have won either of those games (both of which we led in), then this horrible event would not be taking place.

I was raised to hate the 'Noles and I have learned to hate the Vols, so who do I cheer for? The fact is I just don't care.

I will watch and jeer at every chance I get and simply do what these two teams have done much of the last five years after losing to the Gators. Wait till next year. Go Gators!

Jeff Worman

via e-mail

To a not-so-proud graduate of the University of Florida (Gators), this has been a very difficult decision. I hate Steve Spurrier; boy, is he obnoxious!

I don't even care about Tennessee. It should have lost three times. The SEC is washed up. FSU beat us with its third-string quarterback! Because FSU beat us so easily, and Bobby Bowden is such a fine coach and gentleman, I will be trading in my Blue and Orange for Garnet and Gold forever! Can anyone tell me why Tulane (11-0) is not playing in the Fiesta Bowl?

Scott Johnston

Bartow

I'm having trouble getting these words out, but I hope FSU wins decisively. Tennessee is No. 1 only through incredible luck. Any fair-minded person watching their games against Syracuse, Florida, Arkansas and Mississippi State would agree that except for astounding breaks in their favor, they should have lost at least two of those games.

Tennessee is not the best team in the SEC, definitely not the country. I'm pulling for FSU to give it a dose of reality!

Hoover Auvil

Brooksville

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