Florida-Georgia Reflections: The Original Kanye West Moment

Guess what, people?  It’s Florida-Georgia time again!!!!!  And you know what that means:  Time to hop into the time machine and take a blast into the past.  Might as well, because there is not much reason to expect this year’s Florida-Georgia to be worth remembering–unless you are doing some extremely potent drugs.

So back back back in the time machine we go…where we stop nobody knows!!!!!!!!!!

Unless you’ve been living under a mammoth size rock, you are no doubt well aware that singer Kanye West had a little moment (shall we say) at the MTV awards this year.  For those of you who really and truly don’t know what happened:  Watch this video.  Watch what happens at around the 0:44 mark.

In the spirit of this, we are going to blast right back to the original Kanye West moment.  The moment that was no doubt running through Kanye West’s mind when he got the inspiration to pull this little stunt.  Yes, it all started right here on a rainy Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida, right in the middle of a Florida-Georgia game.

The clock was down to less than 30 seconds left in the game.  Georgia had moved the ball right down the field, and had it first-and-goal from about the 10 yard line.  Eric Zeier completed a pass for the winning touchdown–actually what would have been the winning touchdown assuming that the subsequent 2-point conversion attempt was successful.  (There was no overtime back then.)  And then this ref stepped out and said:

“Y’know Georgia, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish dis play, but Florida has one o’ da best teams of all time!!!!!!!!!!  ONE O’ DA BEST TEAMS OF ALL TIME!!!!!!!!!”

(Okay, so it didn’t quite happen like that.  But you get the idea.)

The year was 1993.  Bill Clinton was in his first year in the White House.  Nirvana was on the radio.  Rush Limbaugh was on TV, and he was seething.  Evangelicals the world over (okay, not exactly) were seething with him, bitching and moaning about how the country was going to hell in a handbasket.  (Sound familiar?)  Somalia was in chaos, and American troops were doing a generally ineffective job of quelling it.  The ATF raided the Branch Davidian compound outside of Waco, Texas.  A blizzard dropped several feet of snow and shut down almost the entire Southeast.  Rodney King testified against police officers who gave him the beatdown; this touched off riots all over South Central LA.  Fermat’s Last Theorem was solved.  White House counsel Vincent Foster offed himself.  A Canadian software specialist became the first to mention Y2K.  “Don’t ask don’t tell” came down the pipe.  Lorena Bobbitt cut off her husband’s you-know-what.

And on a rainy Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida and Georgia teed it up one more time.

Yes, the weather that day was dreadful. Imagine standing in a cold shower for four hours straight.  In your shoes.  In a heavy wool suit.  With a sorry excuse for a raincoat attempting to cover it.  And then imagine that you are required to keep a smile on your face and yell and scream and generally act as if you are having the time of your life for the full four hours.  You will now begin to get the idea of what the Redcoats endured that day.

It rained heavily for almost the entire day.  The raincoats which the Redcoats wore that day were dreadfully ineffective at keeping out the rain.  (I believe they have since been replaced.  I sure hope so.)  The drainage system in the old Gator Bowl was dreadfully ineffective as well; fans that day had a raging torrent of water sweeping down the bleachers and around/over their feet.

Florida was doing very well that year, firmly en route to what would be their second officially recognized SEC championship, their second in only 3 years.  Georgia, meanwhile, was reeling from the premature defection of Garrison Hearst and Andre Hastings to the NFL.  They got off to a 1-4 start, 0-4 in SEC play, their worst conference start in three decades.  The low point was a most humiliating 20-10 loss, in Athens no less, to a dreadful Arkansas team.  But then Eric Zeier and Georgia figured some things out and managed to win some games in the back half of the season.  They beat Southern Miss and Vanderbilt by impressive margins, and beat an actually somewhat respectable Kentucky team on homecoming, to get to 4-4 heading into Jacksonville.

The game was wild and crazy in the first half.  Florida roared out to a 13-3 lead in the first quarter.  But Georgia came roaring back in the second quarter and took a 20-13 lead.  Special teams miscues–an all-too-familiar refrain throughout the duration of the Ray Goof era–gave Florida ten quick points and a 23-20 halftime lead.

There was no halftime show.  The field was too wet, so both bands played their halftime sets from the stands.

In the second half, Georgia did not do much of anything offensively.  Florida took a 30-20 lead, then a 33-23 lead.  In the fourth quarter, Georgia kicked a field goal to pull within 33-26.

Florida got the ball back, only needing a couple of first downs to be able to run out the clock and chalk up another win.  They got a couple of first downs, but then the Georgia defense stiffened.  Georgia got the ball back with less than a minute left.  Eric Zeier came flying down the field in record time, and got Georgia to first-and-goal at the 10.

Georgia scored on the next play.  The score was now 33-32.  A two-point-conversion would win the game for Georgia.  (Remember this was 1993; there was no overtime yet.)  All the Georgia fans were in complete and utter ecstasy.  That four-hour slog through the driving rain would prove to be worth it after all.

And then the ref had his little Kanye West moment.  He called the play back–get this–in order to award Florida a timeout. Replays showed (there was no instant replay at the time either) that Florida’s timeout had been called after the ball was snapped.

So Florida got their timeout.  Six Georgia points came off the board.  The score reverted to 33-26 Florida.  Georgia’s scoring threat fizzled.  Florida won the game.  Florida went on to win the SEC championship.  Georgia went on to finish with a 5-6 record, ineligible for postseason play.

And Georgia fans headed back home to attempt to dry out from all the madness.

And now it’s time for us to jump back into the time machine and head back to the present.

Who knows?  Maybe Georgia will actually manage to kinda sorta hang in there, like they did in 1993.  And if Kanye West doesn’t decide to show up and do his thing, Georgia may actually have a chance to win this one.