It is my understanding that some of you who read this blog are Georgia Tech fans. Thus it is that congratulations go out for what I understand is a historic accomplishment. I am informed that this weekend’s win over Florida State is the first time that Georgia Tech has beaten Florida State since 1975.
At least somebody from the state of Georgia beat a team from the state of Florida this weekend. And as the events of this Saturday played out, it became abundantly clear that I would have to accept this as a substitute for what I really wanted to see.
From the very moment that Georgia’s 2008 schedule came out, it was quite clear that the Florida game would be a challenge. With this game coming on the heels of what would surely be an emotionally charged contest with LSU in Baton Rouge, one would have to wonder if Georgia would have anything left in the tank.
And anyone who saw that bench-clearing tickle-pile thingy back in 2007 had to know that Florida would be motivated for revenge this time around. Urban Meyer was so bent out of shape as a result of it that in that little book of his which came out at the start of the 2008 season he spoke of it in the third person: “It will forever be in the mind of Urban Meyer and in the mind of our football team. We’ll handle it, and it’s going to be a big deal.”
But what happened this weekend could not be explained by any of these. If the margin of victory had been one, two, or even three touchdowns, it would be easy enough to attribute a Georgia loss to being out of gas after playing their hearts out against LSU or to Florida being jacked up about the tickle pile thingy last year.
No, what happened this weekend was simply a case of a team–a respectable team, no doubt, but nonetheless a team with severe and profound deficiencies–proving for the second consecutive time this season that it was not worthy to even be on the same football field with a top 10 opponent. Alabama showed us this a month ago. Florida removed all doubt.
Speed kills, as the old adage says. And it was the thoroughly superior speed of Florida at every position, along with a generous helping of Georgia miscues, that killed Georgia and left a bloody, mangled, mutilated corpse exposed on the banks of the St. John’s River for all the world to see. Every time there was a play to be made, on either side of the ball, there was a Florida player there to make it, followed by a whole stream of Georgia players gaping and gawking in awe and wonder and utter disbelief, just like the Coyote whenever the Road Runner puts on that big burst of speed and leaves him there with his eyeballs popping out and his jaw dropping out of his mouth.
And the Georgia players weren’t helping matters either. There was a penalty that wiped out an interception which would have stilted at least some of Florida’s momentum. Blair Walsh, our alleged placekicker extraordinaire, clanked two field goal attempts into the uprights. And Matthew Stafford reverted to the form which we all came to know and love back when he was a freshman, in which his most effective receivers just happened to be wearing the uniforms of the opposing team.
Those of you who were under the woeful delusion that the tickle pile thingy last year restored any semblance of equality to this rivalry: Find yourselves violently disabused of all such notions in extraordinarily graphic fashion. Because all Florida did this weekend was serve notice to Georgia and to all the watching world that nothing has changed, that things are no different now than they ever were at any point in the course of Florida’s complete and utter dominance over Georgia the previous two decades.
Much better Georgia teams than this one have lost to much worse Florida teams than this. Witness the 2002 fiasco in which Georgia took its best team ever since Herschel Walker to Jacksonville and still managed to get beat by an 8-5 team struggling to find its way under a first-year head coach. So this weekend’s outcome should have come as no surprise to anyone. But this was much worse than that. This was worse than anything Steve Spurrier ever did to Ray Goof during his time at Georgia. And it was only because Jim Donnan lost to Florida by 40 points in his first year at Georgia that this does not rank as the all-time worst beatdown that Florida has ever administered to Georgia.
And to think that we began the season talking about a national championship for Georgia. What were we thinking? I’ll have a generous helping of whatever it was that we were smoking when we came up with the idea that this would be a national championship caliber team.
National championship you say? Don’t even talk to me about that anymore. First things first, as they say. Before Georgia can even dare to think of uttering the words “national championship”, it must first prove that it can take care of business against its routine conference rivals. Such proof is sorely lacking in the case of Florida.
National championship caliber teams do not allow themselves to be used as doormats by anyone. And certainly not in the way that Georgia has allowed itself to be used as Florida’s perennial doormat for the last two decades. Can you imagine Southern Cal dropping 16 of their last 19 to Oregon or Oregon State? Penn State dropping 16 of their last 19 to Ohio State? Texas dropping 16 of their last 19 to Oklahoma? LSU, who won two of the last five national championships, dropping 16 of 19 to Tulane, Arkansas, or Ole Miss? Florida, which has won two national championships in the last decade and is now working on a third, dropping 16 of 19 to Florida State or Miami? Alabama during the days of Bear Bryant dropping 16 of 19 to anyone? Didn’t think so.
Florida and Georgia are both comparable programs. There is not the gaping, gawking, yawning disparity that you would find, say, between LSU and Tulane, or between Notre Dame and Navy, or between Tennessee and Vanderbilt (okay, this may be a bad example). Both Florida and Georgia are strong programs with solid winning traditions. Both are in the upper echelon of one of the most prominent and powerful conferences in all of college football. So it is completely and utterly inexcusable that this rivalry should be as one-sided as it has been in the last two decades.
As Georgia fans we frequently say, “Once a Dawg, always a Dawg. How sweet it is!” But there is nothing sweet whatsoever about being Florida’s perennial doormat for the last two decades. Two decades is a reasonable (I think) amount of time for me to put up with all that Georgia has asked me to put up with from them with regard to this Florida thing. As a matter of fact, I believe that I have been quite generous in allowing Georgia two decades to get it together with respect to Florida.
Thus as a condition of my continued allegiance to Georgia, I demand concrete proof that Georgia is committed to doing what it needs to do to become competitive against Florida once again. Specifically, the proof which I require is this: Two wins over Florida in the next three years.
Should Georgia pull this off, then they would be 4-4 against Florida going all the way back to 2004. Parity in this series is a reasonable thing to ask, don’t you think?
But if Georgia fails at this, then I shall renounce my status as a Georgia fan. I will find someone else to cheer for, someone who does not allow themselves to be used as anyone else’s doormat–let alone Florida’s.