If you've visited any of SB Nation's other college blogs this week (and our MLB, NFL, and NHL blogs earlier in the month), you've likely seen several posts detailing our bloggers' favorite sports highlights, brought to you by Samsung. When approaching writing about this topic, I found that I couldn't limit myself to one moment. So, I present to you two, one from basketball and the other from football, one from the team I grew up cheering for and the other from my alma mater, a few years apart but with a similar theme. Follow me after the jump...
My first choice happened on the night of April 7, 2003. I was sitting at the now (sadly) closed Damon's in Mequon, Wisconsin, which was my unofficial home during the 2003 NCAA Tournament. The Syracuse Orange had given my spirits a boost during their run to the National Championship Game against Kansas, as I had just lost my grad school funding in the weeks before and was looking for a new start for the future. Sadly, Florida was unable to help my mood, thanks to a disappointing Second Round loss in a virtual home game in Tampa against Michigan State.
The Orange, who led by 10 at the half, only to let Kansas get to within a three with less than 14 minutes to go, had gotten their advantage back up to double figures with seven minutes remaining. At that point, the Jayhawks started to climb back within striking distance. In the final minute, KU had the Syracuse lead down to two, which became three after Kueth Duany managed to make only one of two free throws -- and Hakim Warrick missed a pair.
In the dying seconds, Warrick would redeem himself by refusing to let Michael Lee become the second coming of Keith Smart. The result is a play that will be a fixture in NCAA Tournament highlight and opening sequence montages for all time.
With that block and Kirk Hinrich's subsequent missed three, Jim Boeheim and the Orange would finally have their elusive National Championship. I still remember running around the mostly empty bar like a mad man immediately after that moment, and I never expected to witness something so momentus ever again.
Fast forward three years and seven or so months later, to the last time I went to a game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field. (Yes, it's been that long, as I moved up to the D.C. area the next March.) My friend Adam was working in Columbia, S.C. at the time and was in town for South Carolina's visit, having gotten a group of us tickets in the Gamecocks' section. (Talk about a unique experience ... watching a game in your own team's stadium in the away stands.)
The Gators were a rising BCS contender at the time, especially since Rutgers stunned then-No. 3 Louisville two nights before and Ohio State and Michigan, the top two teams in the country at the time, were set to meet a week later. However, a loss to South Carolina, coached by Gator legend Steve Spurrier -- who just happened to be making his first visit to the Swamp since taking over in Columbia -- would have likely kept Florida far closer to campus for the holidays.
Spurrier's new charges led twice, 10-7 and 16-10, with Jarvis Moss blocking Ryan Succop's extra point to keep the Gamecocks' lead at just six. The burgeoning Legend of Tim Tebow added another chapter, as the freshman closed a six-play, 80-yard drive -- which featured significant first down plays by both Chris Leak and Percy Harvin -- with a 12-yard score to give the Gators a 17-16 lead (after Chris Hetland made the extra point).
However, South Carolina still had three minutes to get the winning score. With eight seconds left in the game, Ryan Succop lined up for a 48-yard attempt to win it. My stomach was pretty much in my mouth at this point, but once again, Jarvis Moss had the final say.
After the pandemonium that resulted, and long after the visiting fans returned to their RVs and hotel rooms, my friends and I just stood there in the Southeast corner of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, completely gobsmacked by what we had just seen.
The close call was exactly what the Gators needed. In the weeks that followed, Florida smashed Western Carolina, slipped past Florida State, and topped Arkansas to claim the SEC title, then reached the first-ever standalone BCS National Championship Game, where they ran riot over Big Ten champion Ohio State.
So, there you have it, two blocks, one of which sealed a national title and another that kept the dream alive. Now that you've seen my choices (for today ... I could have easily gone the Mike Miller/Chandler Parsons buzzer-beater route on this). what is your favorite college sports highlight?