MONTREAL, Jan. 14, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In the results of voting announced earlier this week, the University of Florida Gators were the 2008 recipients of the annual FieldTurf/Howie Long Award as the "NCAA Team of the Year." The Gators posted a 12-1 record, captured the Southeastern Conference championship and won the national championship at South Florida's Dolphin Stadium.

The FieldTurf/Howie Long Awards are named after Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive lineman Howie Long. An eight-time Pro Bowl selection, Long played for the Raiders from 1981-93. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.

Texas Tech Head Coach Mike Leach won the FieldTurf/Howie Long Award for "Coach of the Year." At the NFL level, the Tennessee Titans won the FieldTurf/ Howie Long Award for "Team of the Year," with Titans Head Coach Jeff Fisher capturing that honor for "Coach of the Year."

Under the leadership of fourth-year Head Coach Urban Meyer, Florida is playing for its second national title in the past three seasons. The Gators have been led by an explosive offense paced by the leadership of 2007 Heisman Trophy QB Tim Tebow and the explosiveness of WR Percy Harvin, along with a stingy defense fronted by All-America LB Brandon Spikes.

"We are honored to be the recipient of the FieldTurf/Howie Long Award," said Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer. "It is a tribute to our players and assistant coaches who are truly invested in what they do."

"The Florida Gators are unquestionably one of the elite and most consistent programs in all of college football, so it is no surprise that UF has captured this prestigious award," said FieldTurf Tarkett CEO Joe Fields. "To navigate through the rugged Southeastern Conference and find their way again to a national championship victory is a tremendous testament to Coach Meyer and all the assistant coaches and support staff at the University of Florida. The competition for this year's FieldTurf/Howie Long Award at the Division I level was as intense as it has ever been, so we offer hearty congratulations to (UF Athletic Director) Jeremy Foley and the entire Gator Nation."

By a wide margin, FieldTurf is the industry leader in artificial turf. FieldTurf is the choice at the NCAA Division I level with 38 stadiums and 32 practice fields. Additionally, 21 of the NFL's 32 teams currently utilize FieldTurf at their stadium and/or practice facility. In the latest NFLPA survey of all of the league's players, FieldTurf consistently ranked among the league's top surfaces. The FieldTurf at Qwest Field in Seattle was ranked ahead of 18 of the NFL's 19 stadium grass surfaces.

For additional information on FieldTurf and the FieldTurf/Howie Long Awards, please visit

FieldTurf Tarkett 
Jason Smollett