Over at Saurian Sagacity, Mergz takes a look at the Georgia-Florida series – more specifically, at each fan base’s attempts to define the ebb and flow of the series.
… When it comes to something that should be as obvious as a win-loss record, it is apparent nothing is obvious when the Gators and Dawgs are involved.
But I have to give coach Richt, and Georgia fans, credit for finally trying to change the narrative of this series. The “2 of the past 4” meme is taking hold on Georgia Blogs and message boards, and it seems to be gaining traction. And it shows a definite change in their thinking.
As a Florida fan, I can admit the previous narrative regarding the series record was, well – somewhat artificial. But Georgia fans bought it, and that was all that mattered.
I’m not sure what we “bought”. 2-15 is, after all, 2-15. And whether we like admitting it or not, there was a funky miasma around the games during that stretch. It didn’t seem to matter who was coaching Georgia, who was coaching Florida (the Zooker is still 2-1 against Richt), who put more talent on the field or which team had more at stake, the result the vast majority of the time was the same.
But let’s face it: towering over this retrospective is one Steven Orr Spurrier. The Dawgs were 1-11 against Spurrier-coached Gator teams. Since Spurrier’s departure for greener pastures, here’s how the two programs have fared overall (courtesy of Middle Dawg @ DawgRun.com message board):
2002 13-1 (SEC Champs) (#3 AP/Coaches Polls)
2003 11-3 (SECCG) (#6 Final Polls)
2004 10-2 (Lost Tiebreaker for Atlanta) (#7 Final Polls)
2005 10-3 SEC Champs (#10 AP/Coaches Polls)
2006 9-4 (#23 Final AP Polls)
2007 11-2 (Lost Tiebreaker for Atlanta) #2/#3 Final AP/Coaches Polls
2002 8-5 (#24 Coaches Poll)
2003 8-5 (#24/#25 AP/Coaches Polls)
2004 7-5 (#25 Coaches)
2005 9-3 (#12/#16 AP/Coaches Polls)
2006 13-1 (SEC/National Champs)
2007 9-4 (#13/#16 AP/Coaches Polls)
Cumulatively speaking that’s 64-15 vs. 54-23. Georgia finished with a better record in five of those six seasons. Georgia has five top ten finishes in that time; Florida has one. Georgia has three SECCG appearances, with two titles, to Florida’s one (to be fair, that one comes with a MNC).
Yet, head to head in that period, it’s Florida 4, Georgia 2. Now, granted and as sad as it may seem, that’s a huge step up from the record during the Spurrier era, but it’s not exactly what you’d expect given the overall accomplishments of the two programs in the last six seasons. So how to explain the disparity?
Keep in mind in considering that question that it’s not just a disparity of results in the WLOCP I’m referring to here; there’s a disparity of perception about the programs, as well. Just ask Stewart Mandel and his friends from Montana. Or the members of the media covering the conference at Media Days who voted the Gators the overwhelming favorite to win the SEC East.
Because of that, I think this whole “three out of eighteen” versus “two out of the last four” debate has more merit on a wider basis than Mergz may be willing to credit. It’s one thing to look at a given meeting between these two schools and automatically chalk Florida up on the plus side, as the old mindset might very well dictate. It’s another to look at the last four games that the Dawgs and Gators have played and contemplate that the series may be entering a new phase, with new givens. Particularly in light of last year’s game – not because of The Celebration (surprise!), but because Georgia dominated a Florida team that for the first time in his tenure fully reflected the vision of Urban Meyer.
Which is why I find the “Tebow wasn’t 100%” line such a lame excuse (not that Mergz has ever made that argument). First, how is it any different from what Georgia faced in the ’05 game with an injured Shockley? More importantly, it’s part of the game, particularly the one Meyer has deliberately chosen to play by running an offense that risks so much physical contact to its quarterback. It’s the hand that Meyer dealt; Georgia simply beat his flush with a full house last year.
So here we are today. Both teams are highly regarded. With a little bit of luck and perseverance, there’s a decent chance this year’s WLOCP may be the most hyped in the series’ history – which is saying a lot when you think about it. I’m not making any predictions at present, but given the two schools’ track record since Spurrier’s departure, I do think that a Georgia win this year is likely to bring with it a reevaluation of the relative strengths of the two programs by their fans and the media.
As I’ve said before, because of that, it’s the biggest game the Dawgs and Gators have played since early in the Spurrier era.