A Game For The Ages: Georgia-Florida Commentary

4-4

4-3

Weird numbers you say?

How about some more?

7-0

8-0

Yes, they have to do with football and anyone with even a passing interest in college football could easily discern what they mean. The first two sets of numbers depict the season record for both Florida and Georgia this year as they get set for this Saturday’s rivalry game. To many out there who would call themselves football fans they may be confused as to why this game would be important with such paltry numbers by both sides. A short trip down memory lane should serve to remind them of the other two sets of numbers.

The year was 1966 and Florida, led by their hotshot quarterback, Steve Spurrier, came into this game ready to clinch their first SEC title. Spurrier was on his way to winning the Heisman and the Georgia game almost seemed an afterthought. Alas, victory was not to be his as he threw three interceptions and Georgia went on to win the game. Spurrier lost his chance to win a championship as a player and Florida did not win their first championship until twenty- five years later in the third year with their new coach, Steve Spurrier. As a coach Spurrier certainly sought and received his revenge as his teams beat Georgia in eleven out of twelve games.

The year was 2002 and with Spurrier gone the Bulldog nation felt as if there was a chance they could finally win a game against Florida. Georgia entered the game ranked #4 in the nation and sporting an 8-0 record. Florida entered the game at 5-3 with the enigmatic Ron Zook in charge. Florida won the game and Georgia finished the season winning the SEC but unable to play for the national title due to their one loss.

Nothing tells the story of Gator fans “issues” more than the fact that most are absolutely uninterested in discussing the series as a whole. Instead they choose to look at the past 19 years in which Florida has won an impressive 16 games. They accuse the Georgia fans who point to the decades of the 70’s and 80’s as living in the past and unwilling to face reality. They talk of Tebow and Grossman (!?) forgetting that during the three games that Herschel played against Florida that he tallied up over 600 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns, never losing.

As they meet again this Saturday each fan – Bulldog and Gator – have some thoughts churning in their mind. As a slight diversion I thought we would peek into each of their minds and see what is happening. I am especially able to do this due to the fact that I spent 19 years living in the very heart of Gator country and was surrounded by their fans and understand the peculiar psychology that makes up a Gator fan.  As a Bulldog supporter and a resident of Georgia for the past 12 years I am able to glimpse into the makeup of the Bulldog faithful.

Florida thoughts:

“Whew, at least if we lose this year we can claim it wasn’t really a bad loss. Everyone already knows our team stinks – we lost to Mississippi State.”

“We can always tell those old Bulldog fans that Tebow was great and you just can’t replace a legend …as long as they don’t remember how good we said we were going to be with Brantley.”

“How many have we won in a row?”

“Will God listen if I pray for the Gators?”

“If I’m not Catholic can I say a Hail Mary?”

“What shirt did I wear last year?”

“You know the Bulldog fans are going to bring up the overall record, again. What can I say? I don’t know how to count to 48.”

“We never lose in the Swamp. We should play this game in the Swamp. Wait … isn’t that where we played LSU and Miss State?”

“If we lose can we just skip the South Carolina game?”

“I really don’t care this year, we’re rebuilding.”

“I really don’t care this year; football is such a small part of my life.”

“I really don’t care this year, Urban has been sick and he’ll be back next year with a vengeance.”

“I really don’t care this year, I really don’t care this year, I really don’t care this year.”

Georgia thoughts:

“Whew, at least if we lose this year nobody will make fun of us – we lost to Colorado.”

“What!?! Florida lost to Mississippi State … there goes the Colorado excuse.”

“It would be nice to have one player like Herschel again.”

“When is God going to shut up those Gator fans.”

“How many Gator fans are praying this week?”

“Can we play the Gators in the Swamp this year?”

“How many field goals is Mark Richt going to kick on Saturday?”

“Wow, we would have only needed 3 field goals against Florida two weeks ago.”

“It’s going to be a stinky season if we can’t beat Florida; as usual, Tech isn’t even on the map anymore.”

“Can we play Florida twice instead of playing Auburn – they have the same colors.”

My thoughts:

Once again this is all said in fun – from a Georgia perspective. As this Saturday’s game rolls around other duties and needs will once again prohibit me from watching the game but there is no doubt where my desire lies. However, as a fan of the real team from Florida, Florida State, I also have another game to look forward to in a month. It is my desire that everyone has an enjoyable Saturday and that the Bulldogs win by 50.

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