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Once a Gator ...

CLEVELAND -- When I asked Joakim Noah who was going to win the game on Saturday, he didn't even hesitate. He knew what I was referring to and it had nothing to do with the Bulls.

"Pssshh, It's not even a question," the University of Florida alum said. "Gator Boys."

Like so many other proud Gator fans, Noah will be cheering on Tim Tebow and company on Saturday when they face off against Alabama in the SEC Championship in Atlanta.

"I don't know what the score's going to be, but we're going to pull it out," Noah said. "A tough situation with [Carlos] Dunlap out, but I think we're going to get it done, man. This is what we've been waiting for a long time. The last 12 wins don't mean nothing. It's all about playing in those lights, man. And I think that Tebow and [Brandon] Spikes and everybody, I think they're all ready to play in the game."

Here are a few more Gator-related thoughts from one of the most recognizable Florida alums in the country:

Nick Friedell: How do you follow the games, especially a game like Saturday's, when you've got a game?

Joakim Noah: Well it [stinks], you know? But I am playing professional basketball and it's a business and it's just the way it is. I'll find out what the score is during the game.

NF: What is your favorite Tebow memory?

JN: My favorite Tebow memory ... I just miss going to The Swamp. And just watching those guys kick [butt]. My favorite Tebow memory would have to be ... I'll always remember his freshman year, like one of the first times he came into the game, I think it was against Kentucky, actually. And he made like a 50-yard run or something. And I was at The Swamp when he made that run his rookie year. And there was just so much hype about him, but he just came in and kicked [butt].

I loved his freshman year when it would be like third and inches or something and they'd put Tebow in the game and he would just always pick up that first down. I remember we had trouble with that the year before. We always had trouble picking up that first down. For me, when it was like third and inches with Tebow, you might as well just put it in the books, man. It's going to be a first down. So to me, those were my favorite memories from Tebow, just picking up those first downs on third and inches or third and one or third and two. He always found a way to get it. He was scrappy out there.

NF: Could he play basketball if he wanted to?

JN: I think he could play anything he wants. People always say that Tebow won't be a pro quarterback and there's a lot of doubters, but I think that his character's going to get him through so much. And I think he's going to become a very good quarterback in the NFL when he's done with anything. Because of his character and what he's made of. He's not going to let go. He's going to just keep fighting until he reaches his ultimate goal. I think that character means a lot in sports and I think that people underestimate that a lot. And I think that he got it.