I had lunch with a good friend yesterday and at one point the conversation turned to Will Muschamp and the Cocktail Party. My thoughts were that, sure, he wants to win the game because of what’s at stake, but he doesn’t seem to approach it with the same arrogance that Corch and Spurrier did (before you ask, I have no label for Zooker’s approach). Muschamp doesn’t seem to have the chip on the shoulder that possessed Meyer and the OBC. Both took Georgia personally.
Will is a Georgia grad and even if he’s loyal to his employer, he’s not ever going to be consumed in the same way as his predecessors were. I don’t see him calling time outs in the fourth quarter to rub a massive lead in or calling junk plays late in the game to set a new scoring record in Sanford Stadium. He’s fiery, sure, but he’s not a dick.
That’s why you get the tepid stuff reported above. It’ll make for some nice locker room material, I’m sure, but it comes across as rote.
And that’s why I think there’s a real opportunity this year to change the psychology of the series. I know there are many of you who think Florida’s dominance is about the locale, the bye week, the weather or the plane trip, but for me, it’s much more basic than those. The Gators have been in Georgia’s head ever since Spurrier managed to plant them there. Richt’s got to exorcise that demon this October. It won’t be easy – the Dawgs haven’t won back to back games against Florida since 1989 – but it’s doable.
One reason it’s doable is because of Muschamp. I believe that. Another reason is the way the Dawgs won last year. Despite a horrible special teams performance and an Aaron Murray who disappeared for much of the second half, they managed to overcome a large first half deficit and control the game down the stretch. And they capped it with a gutsy call that for me stands as the kind of play you must have the balls to call in a series like this. (Dial ‘er up to the 1:19:03 mark.)
It was a win with meat on it. It was the kind of win that should help get Georgia – the players and the coaches – out of the old mindset. This time, it’s not a game they should go to merely hoping to win. It’s a game they should believe they can win. But I don’t think you cement that attitude unless you can win again this fall.
And that’s why it’s Georgia’s biggest game of the year.
True, South Carolina is the bigger short-term threat to a defense of the East title. However, Florida has too many resources at its disposal not to return eventually to the place it’s occupied over the past two decades. But if Georgia is ready to quit getting out of the Gators’ way, that doesn’t mean Florida will dominate the East. It’s time to flip the series. The Party starts now.