Commentary

Remembering the Fog Bowl

Florida's last appearance in the Gator Bowl was a memorable win in 1992

Updated: December 24, 2011, 1:47 AM ET
By Michael DiRocco | GatorNation

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It has been a while since the University of Florida has played in the Gator Bowl.

It was 1992, but it's understandable if your memory of the Gators' 27-10 victory over N.C. State is a little hazy. Not too many people saw the game.

There were 71,223 people in the stadium and the game was televised nationally on TBS, but they didn't see much after the middle of the second quarter. Heavy fog rolled into the stadium and quickly made watching the game from the stands or on television impossible.

"It looked like snow," said Larry Kennedy, a former UF safety who played in the game. "You really couldn't see."

It wasn't too bad on the field, though. The players standing on the sideline couldn't see the opposing sideline, but they were able to see into the middle of the field. The players on the field could see the coaches signaling in calls and adjustments, and they were able to see well enough to still throw the ball.

Florida took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter on Judd Davis' 34-yard field goal and quarterback Shane Matthews' 1-yard run. The fog started wisping over the top of the old Gator Bowl stadium during the second quarter. By the time the teams came out for the second half, a London fog had enveloped the entire area.

The players joked about what was happening, but Kennedy had an eerie chill he couldn't shake.

"That was the craziest-feeling game I've ever been a part of," he said. "You're playing a bowl game and the fog sets in and it's odd. It's odd out there playing a game in the fog. You start thinking about the movie 'The Fog' and 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers.' You start thinking about little crazy stuff coming up in your mind."

Nobody encountered any ghosts or alien pods, but N.C. State ran into something much worse that night: UF running back Errict Rhett.

The junior from Hollywood, Fla., ran for 192 yards on 39 carries and caught seven passes for 42 yards. At times the mist was so thick that once he broke through the line of scrimmage he just picked a direction and dealt with any defender who happened to materialize in his way.

"I was just running with so much heart and tenacity to where if they did come upon me [he'd run them over]," Rhett said. "The same thing that was happening for me would happen to them, too. I would pop up in their face.

"You were just out there running. You couldn't see any defenders after five yards."

That was still better than being in the television or radio booths. By the second half, it was impossible to see anything on the field, so the TV and radio announcers had to rely on ground-level cameras.

And do a little housekeeping as well.

"It was hard to call that game," said Mick Hubert, the Gators' radio play-by-play announcer for the past 23 years. "That was back in the old press box where they had permanent glass windows. That's very abnormal. Most radio/TV booths don't have fixed, permanent glass windows. We were constantly trying to wipe the fog and the steam off of there to see. That was a problem we had right here let alone the fog out there.

"It was hard to see, so we relied a lot on the TV monitor, but they had troubles, too, so they had to shoot a lot of stuff on field level, low level."

Hubert said the field-level cameras gave him a pretty good view -- most of the time.

"I'm sure there was some educated guesses that we might have missed a little here and there, but I don't recall having butchered it up," he said. "But it was tough.

"I think we got most of it right."

He still had a better view than most fans. Most of the crowd stuck around, however, although the reason was not always to try and catch a glimpse of the action now and then.

"My family couldn't see anything," Kennedy said. "Nobody wanted to leave because of the weather itself. It was safer to be sitting in the stands than saying, 'I can't see,' and go try to drive somewhere."

Rhett's family couldn't see, either, which is a shame because that was one of the best games of his career. His own recollection of his play is a little, um, foggy, too, and there's nothing he can really use to jog his memory other than a stat sheet.

"The game went by so fast," Rhett said. "I didn't realize I had that many yards. I knew Shane threw me quite a few balls.

"I later saw the game on television and I couldn't see the game at all. The replays of the game film that we had, the coaches had, completely nothing."

That he remembers clearly.

Michael DiRocco covers University of Florida sports for GatorNation. He can be reached at espndirocco@gmail.com or on Twitter @ESPNdirocco.

Mike DiRocco | email

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