Next UF president Ben Sasse amends comment, calls Georgia, Alabama, LSU ‘trash’

The senator from Nebraska vowed to be a Gators “superfan” and offered to join Billy Napier’s army.
Sen. Ben Sasse spoke about the importance of sports at the University of Florida during his interview with the board of trustees.
Sen. Ben Sasse spoke about the importance of sports at the University of Florida during his interview with the board of trustees. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Nov. 1, 2022|Updated Nov. 4, 2022

University of Florida presidential hopeful and U.S. Senator Ben Sasse apologized Tuesday for what he said was “the single ugliest, most scandalous thing” about his record: calling the SEC trash.

“I should confess that it is true that in 1981, as a 9-year-old, I did regularly decree that the SEC was ‘trash,’” Sasse said during his interview with the board of trustees. “That was wrong. If I could get the freedom to revise and extend my remarks, I should have said that Georgia, Alabama and LSU were trash.”

Related: UF presidential finalist, football fan Ben Sasse once made crack at Gators

Sasse did not mention one of the Gators’ other chief SEC rivals, Tennessee, which is tied with Ohio State at No. 2 in the latest Associated Press college football poll.

Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, said his wife is an Alabama “super fan.” He requested that no one share his feelings on Nick Saban’s program because he doesn’t want to sleep on the couch for the next decade.

Sasse, who once called the Gators “the best team money can buy,” then responded seriously to a question about the role of athletics at the school. He said sports are an outlet for the tribalism present in our country.

“They’re not the most important thing, but in some ways it’s the most important daily thing …” Sasse said of sports on campus. “And let’s just admit at (a) pragmatic level, that Gator symbol is one of the five or so most recognized icons and brand in college athletics, not just in this country but internationally. And we ought to be exploiting and taking advantage of that front door.”

Related: Sen. Ben Sasse chosen as 13th UF president in unanimous vote of trustees

Sasse, a huge Cornhuskers supporter, vowed to be a “superfan” of the Gators. He has sold food at Nebraska events and has worked the chains for officiating crews during high school games.

“I would gladly be an equipment manager for Billy (Napier) when I get there as a side hustle,” Sasse said.

We’ll see if there’s any room on Napier’s army of support staffers for another administrator.

Sasse received unanimous support from the board Tuesday. His selection must still be approved by the state’s Board of Governors.

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