Ryan Chartrand

Many say it’s sweeter the second time around.

I would say that many people in Gainesville, Fla., would have to agree.

We all learned two things in Monday night’s national championship game. First, Florida is the most dominant college basketball team this country has seen since Duke repeated, and Greg Oden looks like he could be a grandpa. On a more serious note, Oden put on a performance that showed everyone he isn’t all hype.

The University of Florida has to be loving life right now. It is the two-time defending national champion in basketball, holds the BCS championship trophy in football and has smoking hot cheerleaders. The Gators have owned that school known as “The Ohio State University” in both championship games this year.

I couldn’t be happier that a team that I don’t have any affiliation with won. This team represents everything that is good about college sports. If you are a college basketball fan, you couldn’t help but love this team. This team hopefully can show all young basketball players it’s not always about getting paid.

First, all five starters returned after winning the championship in 2006, something about as common as Angelina Jolie actually having her own child. Over the last several years, there has been a simple formula for championship teams. It goes: you have good freshmen and/or sophomores that dominate the tournament and then bolt for the NBA.

Not Florida.

This team decided it wanted to do something special, something as a team. Players such as Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer all turned down millions to return because they actually enjoyed school (maybe my generation does have hope).

These guys couldn’t have played harder or with more enthusiasm. It just jumps out when you watch them play. Not only were they better than everyone, they wanted it more. If someone wasn’t playing well, someone was there to pick him up.

The Gators epitomize what sports are all about: teamwork, winning, and love of the game.

The one thing that was questionable was just how good Oden is going to be, but after Monday night all the haters were turned into believers. If an NBA team was drafting to make senior citizens feel like they can still play at a high level, then Oden would be the pick.

Oden showed every NBA team that not only can he can play at a high level (he schooled two lottery picks), but also that he can make an immediate impact defensively. He finally had a game where you were yelling at the TV for him to keep getting the ball.

Every time he touched it down low, the Buckeyes scored. But like most college teams, they lived and died by the 3-pointer, and in Ohio State’s case, it was the latter. They blew it by not getting the ball to him more.

I would love to watch Oden come back and dominate college basketball for one more year, but let’s be honest – he’s gone.

He would be out of his mind to turn down the No. 1 pick in the draft, and the enormous shoe deal he is bound to score.

That would be like ESPN.com offering me a four-year, $12 million deal to write “Johnny in the Box” on their site. Then Dell would sign me to an eight-year, $80 million contract just to use its computers when I wrote my column.

I mean, school’s fun and all, but it looks like the grass is a little greener on the other side. And I’m talking 100-dollar bill green.

Oden, it was fun watching you play in college, but its time to go play with people your own age. Except I forgot that everyone your age is retired.

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