From Dontavius Jackson’s presser to announce his verbal commitment to Georgia:
(PHOTO COURTESY POUYA DIANAT / AJC)
If you’re looking for a handy, dandy chart of the contending schools’ chances to emerge from the SEC East and go to the SECCG, The State has one here, although it should be noted that Vanderbilt isn’t included, and the Commodores haven’t been mathematically eliminated from the race.
What’s obvious is that Georgia has no margin for error at all. There isn’t a single [ed. note – three or four team] tiebreaker scenario that resolves itself in the Dawgs’ favor.
Upon initial reflection, I thought The Celebration was a brilliant move on Mark Richt’s part because it got Georgia’s players out of the funk they’d been in for much of the previous three games. As the game went on, I was even more impressed because I saw the effect it had on Florida’s players, too.
But after reading this overwrought letter posted for public consumption by one Franz Beard, who is the managing editor of Gator Country, a Florida online site (h/t Best of the SEC Blogs), my attitude is beginning to border on flat-out awe.
When this guy writes “I shake to think what might have happened”, I don’t doubt it. My bet is that he was still shaking with righteous indignation when he wrote the letter. Listen carefully and you can hear his voice quiver.
… I’ve been at Florida-Georgia games since 1962 and I know the hair-trigger emotions both on the field and in the stands. One ill-timed remark, one bump of a Georgia player into a Florida player and we could have very easily had an on the field incident that would have made Miami-Florida International look like something you see on Sesame Street. It is only by God’s grace and the restraint of the Florida coaches, who prevented the UF team from charging the field by their quick, positive response, that there was no incident on the field.
I’ve got to tell you, I had no idea of the grave danger I was in at that moment.
But skip that – my point here isn’t to mock what Franz Beard wrote (BestofSEC does a fine job of that all on his lonesome). It’s to note that Mark Richt and Georgia football are in their heads. All of that Gator superiority we’ve come to know and love have vanished from this guy’s mindset. It’s all ghosts now. Three out of the last eighteen? Gone. Visor Boy? Gone. Danny the All-American? Gone. At this point, Franz may not even remember that his team won the last MNC, so consumed is he with wrath over Richt’s perfidy.
And this from a guy who runs what I presume to be a popular Gator fan site and shares a conviction about Florida football with a large following. He’s representative, in other words.
This ain’t going away anytime soon, folks. It’s going to eat at the Gator Nation at least until next year’s WLOCP. And with that one little gesture, Mark Richt has managed to destroy the psychological status quo of this series that Spurrier built and had grown over the better part of two decades. Easy, comfortable arrogance has been replaced with a burning desire to even the score.
The worm has turned. What do you think Urban Meyer is going to hear at every Gator Club breakfast, lunch and dinner meeting he attends in the offseason next year? He’s gonna hear the same incessant complaint that every Georgia coach has been forced to suffer through for nigh on about twenty years: Coach, you gotta beat Georgia this year. You just gotta.
And so I ask one more time: just how smart is Mark Richt? Did he actually see this coming? Because if he did, all I can say is, man, I can’t wait to see what he has up his sleeve for next year’s game.
UPDATE: For all my Gator commenters in denial, here’s more of what I’m referring to. Feel free to keep insisting otherwise, though.
Ah, hell, I said I wouldn’t revisit the subject, but I can’t help it.
Please note this great moment in sportsmanship in 2007, as the Florida Gators get their pregame on by stomping on the Tiger logo on LSU’s home field:
Gator fans, I share your outrage. Shall we move on now?
With two thirds of the season in, there are a couple of things we can see about the SEC this year: (1) the difference in quality some thought they saw in separating the Southeastern Conference from the remaining BCS conferences is not as apparent at the top, at least with regard to the Pac-10 and, arguably, the Big 12; and (2) the quality of the SEC at the middle and lower parts of the conference, on the other hand, is apparent.
The result of these two factors has been one of the most competitive, exciting conference races I can remember. No team in the SEC East as I type this has been mathematically eliminated from going to Atlanta. The West isn’t quite as bunched up, but it still boasts three teams that have a shot at the SECCG.
In a season that’s seen Kentucky go from beating the #1 team in the country and being ranked as high as #7 to getting blown out by Mississippi State at home a couple of weeks later, I feel a little queasy ranking the teams, but I’ll give it a shot nevertheless.
Good, But Not Elite
The Rest Of The Ranked
The Few, The Proud, The Unranked
Bringing Up The Rear
I guarantee you the first thing that went through Meyer’s mind when he saw what was happening was, “Aw crap. I wish I had thought of that first.”
UPDATE: Tater Tot agrees. (But check out Tuberville’s courageous fence straddling.)
It’s hardly a point worth mentioning, but I’ll mention it anyway. Class, or the lack thereof, manifests itself in many ways.
You tell me how this looks:
After Florida wins, usually between seven and 10 players are made available to the media, whether at home, on the road or at a neutral site.
After Saturday’s game only three Gators (quarterback Tim Tebow, linebacker Brandon Spikes and safety Tony Joiner) were brought into the interview room with Joiner and Spikes staying less than five minutes combined. The excuse given was the players needed to catch the team bus.
Last year after Florida’s victory against Georgia, numerous players — starters and backups — stuck around for interviews for close to an hour. The bus waited.
Despite having a much longer trip home, Georgia players and coach Mark Richt were still speaking to reporters more than 90 minutes after the contest had ended.