Cam Newton and the Florida Gators dynasty that could've been

After originally beginning his collegiate career with the Gators, what could've happened if Cam Newton had remained at Florida?
Florida Atlantic v Florida
Florida Atlantic v Florida / Sam Greenwood/GettyImages

The Florida Gators were on top of the world in 2008 going 48-7 with three 13-1 seasons and two national championships between 2006 and 2008 under head coach Urban Meyer. After taking over the Gators program in 2005, up and coming coach Meyer seemed to have things clicking in no time after the Gators had gone through several lean years since the exit of legendary coach Steve Spurrier in 2002.

While Chris Leak led the Gators to their first national championship since 1996 in 2006, the heir apparent, Tim Tebow who became an SEC legend by the end of his career was the first coveted recruit by Meyer. The next few seasons under Tebow is when the team took off and showed what looked to be the start of a long-lasting dynasty.

While Tebow led the Gators to their second national title in three years in 2008, the much-anticipated announcement of whether or not he would return to Gainesville loomed large until his famous “I’m comin’ back” moment in front of the crowd at Ben Hill Griffin stadium in the off season leading up to 2009.

Like any dynasty, it is essential to have pieces in place after legends like Tebow graduate. And Meyer was doing just that by recruiting high school standout Cam Newton to Gainesville for the 2008 season. Newton was assumed to the starting quarterback in 2009 if Tebow left early for the NFL, but that plan never happened.

Cam Newton and the Florida Gators dynasty that could've been

Not only did Tebow come back for the 2009 season, but it got worse as according to Michael DiRocco with the Florida Times-Union, “Newton had an idea that was what Tebow was going to do” a few months before it happened. And that is exactly what transpired.

Contrary to the narrative many think was the reason for Newton leaving Gainesville was his arrest for stealing a laptop, DiRocco points out that it was the assumption that Tebow would return to Gainesville for 2009, and not the arrest.

Before the announcement even happened, Newton had already announced in November of the 2008 season that he was leaving Gainesvile and headed to junior college for a year.

From junior college at Blinn College, Newton then surfaced at Auburn University under head coach Gene Chizik and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn in 2010 and led the Tigers to a national championship. Newton himself also won the Heisman trophy that year.

The highly sought-after Newton in Gainesville was set up to be the heir apparent to Tebow, and looking back would have probably kept Meyer in Gainesville, and the Gators at least one more national championship. Beyond that, with Meyers top-level recruiting the fan base and the administration kept at ease, it only begs the question “what could’ve been” for Gator nation had Newton and Meyer each never left.