Florida and Georgia play this weekend in Jacksonville in one of the most unique environments in college football. Half of the stadium is red, half is blue, and there’s a distinct line between them.
This game has almost always been played at a neutral site, though some talk has arisen every now and then about moving it back to the campuses. There hasn’t been much discussion along those lines in recent years though. Why you ask?
Well, the Jaguars coming to Jacksonville in the 1990s allowed the teams to play on the schools’ campuses for the first time since the 1930s. The reason is because the old Gator Bowl had to be renovated into an NFL-caliber stadium. The results?
1994, in Gainesville: Florida 52 – Georgia 14
1995, in Athens: Florida 52 – Georgia 17
So much for that talk. Florida becoming the first team ever to score 50 in Athens put a real quick end to the discussion from the northern side of the rivalry. So, it will be played on the banks of the St. Johns River in Jacksonville instead.
By the way, do you know why the St. Johns River flows north? Because Georgia sucks.
Bulldogs like to talk history in the series. Usually that history they tell has a big gap between Herschel and Knowshon, but whatever. Let’s talk history. They’re very proud of the fact that Georgia has the lead in the all-time series of 46-37-2.
That’s nice, but they don’t tell you that a good chunk of those wins came in the leather helmet days. In college football’s modern era, which began in 1946, Florida owns the lead 33-28-1. If you’re counting along at home, that means 18 of Georgia’s wins came before the game as we know it fully crystallized.
Despite the UGA win last season, Florida has still won 15 of the last 18 in the series, a dominating streak by any standards. Bulldogs usually retort “but it’s 2-2 in the last four,” completely ignoring the fact the first of those wins came against a team whose coach was fired the week of the game. Nope, no extenuating circumstances there.
They probably do this out of a love of their current coach, Mark Richt. He’s a stand up guy and I really can’t complain about much he’s done. He wasn’t even the mastermind of last year’s celebration incident; that honor goes to his dopey players who somehow took a simple directive about acting excited after the first touchdown way off the deep end.
You see, Mark Richt is the only head coach in Georgia history to have a losing record against three different Florida head coaches. He was 0-1 against Steve Spurrier, 1-2 against Ron Zook, and he’s 1-2 against Urban Meyer. He also lost out on a chance for a national title in 2002 by taking his only loss to Florida and watching undefeated Miami and Ohio State play for it all. In other words, he was far more of a thorn in Florida’s side as an assistant at FSU than he’s been as Georgia’s head coach.
When this weekend comes and the two schools’ faithful descend on Duval County, I will be there among them. I will be consciously avoiding anything red and/or black because there’s only so much inane barking by human beings I can stand without losing my faith in humanity. That, and relentless talk of Gators wearing jeans shorts, despite the fact I will be wearing long pants and it’s a tired old line from over a decade ago that they have yet to muster up the creativity to replace.
I expect to see a great game from way, way up there (row CC of the upper deck), and who knows? Maybe the listening and comprehension skills of Georgia’s players will have advanced far enough that they won’t again do something flagrant that is in no way what their coaches intended for them to do.
Then again, Georgia could also write a real fight song instead of ripping off an old folk song. Which is to say, don’t hold your breath on it. The smart ones have already got out…