GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida football coach Jim McElwain seems on board with continuing the Tom Petty tribute that brought the crowd together in The Swamp on Saturday.
Before the start of the fourth quarter of Florida’s game with LSU, Petty’s I Won’t Back Down played through the stadium speakers with a video tribute as fans sang along to the end.
It was a special moment recognizing Petty, a rock-and-roll legend and Gainesville native who died earlier last week.
Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin responded Sunday to a fan’s request to make it a permanent fixture in The Swamp, tweeting “Absolutely!”
Absolutely! 🐊👊🏼🎶 https://t.co/TlT1HVCRki
— Scott Stricklin (@ScottStricklin) October 8, 2017
There is also an online petition to Stricklin encouraging the tribute become a regular feature at home games.
Meanwhile, McElwain was asked for his thoughts on the matter.
“It was hard not to notice it. I can’t say enough about the fans in The Swamp, and I had some comments from their people afterward, like, ‘Mac, unbelievable environment.’ And it was,” he said. “I credit our fans that show up and cheer our guys on. And to see that after ‘We Are the Boys,’ and to hear that place in unison – that was, it was special. Credit goes to the people who put it together, and more than that, the response then of the fans. And, ultimately, I won’t back down … it kind of hits home for me.”
The Florida and LSU players were on the field as the officials held the football waiting for the tribute to end before the start of the fourth quarter.
“I thought it was really cool,” Florida offensive lineman Tyler Jordan said. “I was sitting on the bench and was sitting with Coach (Brad) Davis and he was chalking stuff up. People started singing and I was looking around and I kind of forgot, you know my adrenaline was going and I was in the flow of the game. I just kind of forgot that we were going to play ‘I Won’t Back Down’. But it was a really cool experience.”