Over the past 20 years of tailgating, the Haycock clan have staked out their spot near the corner of University Avenue and Gale Lemerand Drive.
And heading into the annual rivalry game against Florida State University, UF will need all its Gator fans cheering them on.
Florida enters Saturday’s match 5-6 against the also 5-6 Seminoles. The winner will break even for their regular season record and be eligible for a bowl game selection.
Questions remain about the Florida team as head coach Dan Mullen was fired after last week’s game. ESPN put the Gators win probability at 74.2 percent.
How did you become Gators fans?
Mike Haycock graduated from UF in 1972 with a degree in chemical engineering. Since then, other family members have attended the university.
Mike moved away from Gainesville when he started working, but he’s been on a couple of boards at UF. He and his wife, Lyn, now live in Longboat Key, but they travel up for every game.
“We got a big RV that we got parked over by the baseball stadium and then we bring the jeep over here,” Mike said, explaining the routine.
He recalls tailgating at games when his son, now 46, was only six years old. The family had a spot by the engineering building at the time.
“We kind of worked our way over to this spot,” Lyn said.
What are some of your favorite Gator memories?
The Haycocks have been able to travel to every Gators football national championship, in 1996, 2006 and 2008. Mike said that’s been special for the family.
“We went to Spurrier’s when he won, and then we went to both the Urban’s when they won in Arizona and then down in Miami,” Mike said.
The family doesn’t just stick to football either. Mike said they also went to see the Gators win back-to-back men’s basketball championships in 2006 and 2007—the first team to do so with the same starting lineup.
Lyn added that one of her favorite memories is of their three daughters as kids. All three had their faces painted and decked in Gators apparel. The family took a picture of them in front of the tailgate party.
“I still have that one on the wall,” Lyn said. “That one is one of my favorites.”
Do you have any tailgating traditions?
Lyn said the family used to coordinate with another tailgating family to put on a big spread.
“We would all text or call each other and plan this big elaborate meal,” Lyn said. “But every week was different; we tried to have a theme.”
Against Arkansas, they’d prepare hogs. South Carolina called for chicken. Against the Seminoles, Mike said they’d just drink.
Today, they’ve got donuts and pastries to fill up on. But Lyn said the 24 of them, family and friends, had its fill of good food last night at Spurrier’s Gridiron Grille.
“We had a really good time at Spurrier’s last night,” Lyn said.