Ode to the Cocktail Party

For those of you who sneer about Georgia traveling to Jacksonville every year to play its annual rivalry game against Florida, I suggest you read this excellent tribute by Joe Vitale at CFN.

The SEC border clash between the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators is one of the great spectacles in all of sports. Pulling out of Saint Simons Island and Jekyll Island, the Bulldog faithful head south down I-95 towards River City. Driving down US Route 1, car loads of Georgia fans cross the St. John’s River over the Hart Bridge, with its green girders reminiscent of the old Gator Bowl. Reaching the crest of the bridge, the red and black and blue and orange clad fans come into view. RVs as far as the eye can see, school flags flying in the breeze, tents dotting the landscape, thousands of people tailgating, music blasting and the mesquite aroma of countless BBQs create the most festive atmosphere in college football.

Not only for the fans of both schools, but the atmosphere is electric for the players. They are amazed by the size of the crowds around the stadium. Including Sanford Stadium and Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, most college campus stadiums are situated in compact spaces and have a limited amount of open space. EverBank Stadium is surrounded by open fields and large parking lots, so the players are witnessing many more fans congregated in one spot than they are usually accustomed.

“I remember coming over the bridge and seeing tailgates set up everywhere, people walking around, and the festivities going on,” former Georgia center Ben Jones once said. “I’m like, ‘Wow! It’s 12 o’clock in the afternoon. How long have they been out here doing this?”

Ben, if they’re doing it right, at least since the sun came up.

The series dates to 1904, but Florida doesn’t count that first game, as it occurred before the modern establishment of the university by the Florida legislature in 1905. The first game was played in Macon between Georgia and the Florida Agriculture College, one of four predecessor colleges of Florida, based in Lake City.

However, it shouldn’t be Georgia’s fault that a majority of Floridians remained uneducated for 120 years after the establishment of the University of Georgia. Legendary Georgia sports historian Dan Magill summed it up best when he so eloquently stated, “That’s where Florida was back then. We can’t help it if they got run out of Lake City.”

It’s time for Georgia to do a little more running out this year.  Get after their asses, boys.

75 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football

75 responses to “Ode to the Cocktail Party

  1. Other than the statement about the Hart Bridge (you would be driving up not down to cross the river) the article is spot on.

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  2. D as in Dawg

    Born and raised in Lake City. That old college campus is a VA Hospital. It’s been a tough life as a Dawg deep in Gator Country. I hate orange and blue. Let’s return things to the normal order in JAX. Let’s dominate from start to finish. Let’s beat them convincingly and embarrassingly. I will be there to witness it. On two, ready, break!

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  3. Russ

    Yeah, baby! I’m ready, put me in!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Russ

    Great article, but the author misspelled “EverBark”.

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    • Cojones

      Thank you. Now will you put up the letter “r” and correct the scoreboard ? It’s a simple roll and paste with an extended handle on the roller.

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  5. Bigshot

    And we lose year after year even when we have the best team.

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    • Sanford222view

      Football didn’t start in 1990.

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      • Macallanlover

        To some of our cowering fans who let Florida fans dictate how they think and perceive CFB, it did begin in 1990. Throw out the Spurrier/Goff match ups, admittedly a boom period for Florida, and you see a rivalry that UGA leads comfortably with an uptick towards Florida. Dawgs win next week and the last eight games are 4-4.

        Bow down to Florida if you wish but I won’t. Our players weren’t even born until the late nineties, they are worried about voodoo. No reason why UGA fans don’t turn that FU logic back on them, the nineties aren’t relevant to modern times. Good rivalry, in a unique setting, where the team which plays best usually wins. I expect that to be the Dawgs this year, and the margin should be comfortable. UGA stetches it’s lead in the series, and begins a streak of its own.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Macallanlover

          Correct—-Aren’t worried about voodoo. We match up very well, players are getting healthier, coaches are on it, they ain’t skeered; Dawgs win.

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  6. 3rdandGrantham

    Rather convenient for him to wax poetic about the cocktail party when he’s not an invested fan who has had to suffer through now decades worth of disappointment. From the outside, sure, it’s certainly a spectactle. But for those attached in some fashion, it’s been mostly misery. Kind of like rival fans who mocked our firing of CMR, who clearly felt no pain of all those disappointing losses and palace intrigue and general malaise within the program.

    Oh, and besides, Jacksonville is the host city, not SSI or the like. And with all due respect, Jville is a dump with little redeeming qualities.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welp, I’m an invested fan who has had to suffer through now decades worth of disappointment.

      If you think it sucks losing in Jax, try watching Spurrier hang half a hundred in Athens with a trick play.

      Blaming Georgia’s lousy track record against the Gators on stadium location is a loser’s mentality.

      Liked by 3 people

      • “Blaming Georgia’s lousy track record against the Gators on stadium location is a loser’s mentality.”

        Ding, ding, ding … Gator fans wanted the game out of Jacksonville before 1990. Hell, even Ray Goff beat them his 1st year down there in 1989. In the 90s, we lost because Florida had generally better players (1992 and 97 excepted). In the 00s, we lost because we didn’t make plays and then Urban Meyer. In the 10s, we were turning it with Murray and then threw up on our shoes in ’14. If location is so important in a neutral site game, why has Oklahoma generally dominated the Red River Shootout since Bob Stoops came to Norman? Generally better coaching and better players. Kirby seems to be taking care of it.

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        • In the 90s, Florida had better players on the field and Steve Spurrier on the sideline.

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        • 3rdandGrantham

          As stated below, I’m not blaming all our troubles on Jax – only an idiot would think the result would have been different in years where UF clearly had the better team/coach. But again it certainly can’t help matters is my main point.

          You can’t compare the Texas/OU clash to UGA/UF – that’s an absurd comparison. After all, Dallas is exactly 3 hours from both Norman and Austin – the game takes place literally halfway between both campuses – whereas Jax is many hundreds of miles from Athens, and about 70 from Gainesville. Not to mention the stark weather differences between Gainesville/Jax and Athens as well, whereas again Dallas plays a neutral role.

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          • The team flies to Jacksonville. With the flight direct from Athens, it’s virtually the same travel as from Gainesville. Even from Atlanta, it took an additional hour or 2 to bus to ATL. If the weather and the travel were such a big difference maker, we would have never dominated the series as we did before 1990.

            I get it that Florida may have a very slight edge due to the game being played in Jacksonville (it’s not a full 3 point advantage you would see for a home field), but the coaching and players have had a whole lot more to do with it than the conditions.

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            • 3rdandGrantham

              “but the coaching and players have had a whole lot more to do with it than the conditions.”

              Again, I agree 100% and have stated as such here and many times previously. I am, however, saying that the location is a factor that benefits UF.

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                • Dawg in Lutz

                  disagree on the location benefiting Florida. The Gaytors have just dominated the line of scrimmage and made plays when the Dawgs didn’t make plays. UGA needs to go to Jax and destroy them at the LOS. that will give us the result we want to see.

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                • Otto

                  Agreed. Further UF did to UGA what they did to everyone else and would have done the same in Athens. It isn’t an excuse for the losses, the program was not performing to the level we should expect.

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          • Otto

            UGA flies to Jax from Athens, UF packs up in buses and rides to Jax. The travel time is basically the same. I had rather be on a plane than in a bus next to a 300lbs lineman. Jax is an advantage to UGA.

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            • Cojones

              Yeah, but we still have to ride from the airport. Now, if the seating arrangement has an O lineman next to a small RB… … … .

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      • 3rdandGrantham

        I’ve never blamed the yearly battle in Jax as the sole reason why we’ve failed so many times there over the years, or even intimated as such. But, the location and proximity between both schools certainly can’t help matters, but instead only hurt them. Just as CKS is constantly looking for any little competitive advantage he can find, regardless of how trivial it all might seem to us, continuing to play in Jax yearly does us no favors.

        And besides, its largely due to money as the reason why we continue to play there yearly, yet we continue to put ourselves at a competitive disadvantage due again to the almighty dollar. Worst case this series should move to a Jax/Atl type of setup, alternating years being played in the new MB stadium. Otherwise, it should simply move to a home and home series.

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        • 3rdandGrantham

          BTW and FWIW, from what I’ve been told by very reliable sources, CKS does not like playing down there yearly whatsoever and strongly feels it gives UF an edge, but he’ll of course never admit as such publicly.

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          • Kirby may get a lot of things his way due to the leverage he has on the AD, but this will be one he’s going to have to get over and figure it out. He participated in the winning formula in ’97. Win the line of scrimmage, run the ball with authority and be opportunistic on defense.

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        • UGA'13

          But…but then what’s my excuse for dressing up in costume and getting slammed on the beach in October?

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      • Russ

        Exactly. Field is the same size, fan base is split 50/50. If the players can’t get fired up to play there, then check their pulse as they’re likely dead.

        We still own the series lead, even though we have to make the torturous trip down there. We are 3-3 in this decade, and 4-6 over the last ten years. Some of y’all need to quit worrying about the Florida Boogeyman.

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      • atlasshrugged55

        Having played in 3 of the GA/FL games, there’s no better game environment. It’s absolutely incredible to ride the team bus over the St John’s & see the spectacle from the bank of the river to the stadium. Going from the bus to the locker room had you ready to run through a wall.

        Our record since 1989 has nothing to do w/ the game location, it’s electric & the players feel it. It’s time to quit making excuses & go play like we want it more than UF.

        Liked by 4 people

      • Otto

        Of UF’s rivals in the Eas,t UGA has the best record, and of UF’s annual SEC rivals only LSU has a better record.

        Keep the game in Jax. It is like no other.

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        • If this is so great, then why do you think someone like Ole Miss doesn’t jump at playing LSU at a neutral site in NOLA every year? Is a long weekend in Jax more fun than New Orleans? They could make the money right, so why won’t anyone do it?

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    • PTC DAWG

      I suggest you stay home for this one.

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  7. Spike

    I’m taping my ankles and putting my eye black on.. Get After Their Ass, Indeed!

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  8. Let’s talk about how great things were 30 years ago. The Georgia Way

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  9. Hillbilly Dawg

    Maybe every 5 years roll in an Atlanta game…but other than that, I stillsee this as a “Jimmies and Joes” game. Just gotta go out and GATA.

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  10. Hillbilly Dawg

    I thought Floridians were still uneducated.

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    • Cojones

      Yeah, but even the FU players get the idea when a 5-yr old gives them the finger when their bus pulls into the stadium.

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  11. dawgman3000

    Being a lifelong resident of beautiful south GA, this game always means more to me than the others. I make my living traveling across the border daily, right through the heart of gator land (Gainesville) and it has been rough losing to them as much as we have. The Tebow years really sucked as I encountered arrogant gator fans regularly. This season, the big lizard faithful are a little more humble as they’re program have issues and they see that Kirby is bringing a new breed across the border to the St. John’s river. Many UF fans are expecting a trip to the woodshed. Kirby, please do me and all dawg fans a favor and make sure they get a nice tour of it.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. KershDawg

    The original neutral site game. Had no idea it dated back to 1933 though. Such a storied rivalry and environment unlike any other. There is no better feeling that walking out of that stadium with a win.

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  13. paul

    My experience, and I know I’m old, is that when we owned the game in Jacksonville (read: the Dooley years) it was the Florida fans who complained about the venue. Whoever is losing is looking for excuses. The game gets played in Jacksonville because there are thousands of fans in south Georgia who can’t regularly make the trip to Athens. Many are large donors. Throw in the financial incentives from the city of Jacksonville and you get a better haul than you get at home without the effort required to stage a game on campus. It doesn’t hurt that a lot of students as well as a fair number of fans from metro Atlanta enjoy a long weekend at the beach around Halloween. When the money stops making sense, the game will be moved. It’s as simple as that. Until then, find something else to b!tch about.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Gene Simmons

    Simple solution: Win this one so often that the UF fans are once again clamoring to have it moved! That’s how we’ll know the culture has changed.
    GATA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. 79DawgatWork

    Seeing them shut down the Hart Bridge while the team buses descend into the madness below truly is a spectacle!!! Still do not understand all the dislike for Jacksonville from the haters and losers, blaming a “neutral venue” for losing cuts the other way half the time…

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  16. bigshot

    If UGA wants to play a kick-off classic game, then this game has to be moved. Which is more advantageous in recruiting? I believe it is the kick-off classics.

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    • If UGA wants to play a kick-off classic game, then this game has to be moved.

      UGA is playing one in a couple of years, without moving the Cocktail Party.

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      • PTC DAWG

        And we played in one a few years ago..also managed to work in a home/home with ND in the interim. Good work, I say.

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      • bigshot

        I’m aware of that. They are playing UVA, on Labor Day. They played UNC last year. It also takes away a home game, which I believe is not fair to the fans or the city of Athens. I am well aware of UGA’s history in this game. I know UGA won this game with regularity in the past. I’m 64 years old, so I am not a Johnny- come-lately. I also remember Doug Dickey saying, “you go the whole game thinking you have won and look up on the scoreboard at the end of the game and see you have lost.” I believe the game needs to be moved.

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    • Cojones

      Athens merchants would appreciate it every other year, but how could it continue to be called the WLOCP along with the added feeling of freedom in that fiesta atmosphere of the beach?

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      • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

        I live in Athens, and the difficulties with a home-and-home game is that: 1) Athens won’t do crap to make the experience better for fans (Jax will) 2) It mean we have to go to Gainesville every other year, 3) Neither school can get a Chamber of Commerce involved like Jax does to make it a better experience.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Otto

          Agreed, It’d be nice to see it turned into an event the “home” team could host recruits at every other year. Only the Red River game comes close in atmosphere, and the game would be great to host South Georgia and Florida recruits.

          I have been to the Iron Bowl, Tiger Bowl, UT/S. Car on Halloween night, all of UGA’s rival games (most home and away haven’t been to Clemson), and the WLOCP is something special.

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  17. southernlawyer11

    As somebody who hasn’t been to the WLOCP in years, I’m a prime candidate to clamor for its change. I used to be in the move it to home-and-home camp…..but then you read an article from a general / national college football website and you remember why you do this:

    BECAUSE it makes you feel proud to have something so unique that almost nobody else has……ask any Georgia or Florida fan who has a ton of friends at other SEC schools—every fan of the other SEC schools is perpetually intrigued, bordering hard on jealousy, by the mystique of this game. Spring Break with a football game !?, they ask. People really go on Wednesday?!, they ask. People really take boats to the game?!, they ask.

    Moving this game would be like tearing down one of the original buildings on north campus. That building may be a pain in the _$$ at times, but you know getting rid of it would be a horrendous mistake. As far as I’m concerned, this game should be on a DON’T TOUCH list, much like a building on the national register of historic places.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Russ

      Well said. The only game I’ve heard of that might come close is Texas-OU and the Red River Shootout in Dallas with the Texas State Fair. I married into a Longhorn family so I watch every year. I’m going one year just to experience the atmosphere. And I don’t see how it can match the WLOCP.

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      • But it doesn’t have to compare itself to the cocktail party……..it has no beaches or boats, but it can hold its head high by maintaining that attachment to an otherwise dying slice of Americana……..the hallowed state fair of texas. And its because of that it should NEVER EVER be moved.

        These things are bigger than the games, or even the Universities themselves. They are uniquely AMERICAN TRADITIONS, as corny as I may sound.

        Liked by 1 person

    • This is a point I’ve made before. The WLOCP is a rare, almost unique, tradition. They ought to be selling that game day experience to recruits.

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      • PTC DAWG

        With the bloated coaching staffs, I think they could pull it off. Problem is getting them inside the stadium, the place isn’t huge,l and many years ticket demand is off the charts.

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      • …..yes, and ^^that is one area where Kirby needs to push on the Administration HARDDDD. As I understand it, we have an agreement with Florida that there will be no formal recruiting in conjunction with that game. Now, if there is anything unjustly in Florida’s favor surrounding the Jax game, it is that agreement. Of course they don’t want us having a big recruiting weekend 70 miles from their campus. But we need to tell them to stick that contract where the sun don’t shine next time it comes up for renewal.

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      • If Georgia and Florida moved this game from Jacksonville, you would absolutely have 10 other SEC fanbases (sans mizzou and a&m) shaking their heads in frustration at how stupid we are. Just sayin’…. a little perspective from those who see our grass as pretty damn green.

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  18. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    We can win this game wherever it is played. As a single event it’s hard to top, year in and year out. Jacksonville pays each school well and works hard in other ways. It is the most fan (tailgate) friendly place I have ever been to. Ben Jones is quoted in the article at seeing the sea of fans and wondering how long they have been there? It depends: many in the RV city start coming in on Tuesday or Wednesday. People in cars like my folks (mostly organized by my cousin Nick and his henchmen) show up at 8:30 AM. They make camp quickly and start partying. It is intended to be a breakfast-lunch-and-dinner day. Across the drive from him is a large group of UGA fans from Augusta. The city (I guess) places numerous trash receptacles in the lots and circulates a number of folks in golf carts in case someone gets ill, or has some other problem that needs attention. It’s just a great scene. Those that want to move it need to quit whining, imo. Only puppies whine.

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  19. The Dawg abides

    The author got most of it right, but lost credibility with the unforgivable misuse of the term BBQ.

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  20. Grew up in Savannah, went every single year. Jax is a shithole. Time to go home and home.

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  21. Ginny

    I live in Ponte Vedra Beach. Win or lose, this is my favorite weekend of the year. Ain’t nothing else like it. The one drawback to the Dawgs domination this season is that ticket prices were higher than I have seen in years past. Hopefully that means Gator fans are jumping off the bandwagon and we’ll see mostly red at Everbank. One can dream at least…

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    • Debby Balcer

      Count me in as one who loves the atmosphere in Jax. It is a unique game. My husband graduated from OU and goes with me to all the GA games and really feels the Cocktail Party is an experience not to be missed. Counting the days until we head to Jacksonville.

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  22. GruvenDawg

    For those of you clamoring for the game to move, perhaps you should hit up our AD and conference on the BS scheduling favoritism prior to the WLOCP game…

    I tried to select a large enough sample size for an analysis (1977-2016, 40 years). UGA vs UF is 16-24, with the majority of those wins (10) coming prior to 1990. To me the drought in Jacksonville was caused by two primary reasons.

    Hall of fame head ball Coach Steve Spurrier (11-1, 1990-2001)
    Scheduling (bye week favoritism provided to UF before the UGA game)

    I am not saying that scheduling is the cause of UGA’s decline in Jacksonville since 1990, but it sure didn’t help when trying to beat SOS. I am much more confident with Kirby and the fact that scheduling for both schools are at least on equal footing going into the game with both having a bye the week prior (so far through 2018)

    Over the last 40 years UF had a bye week before UGA without UGA also having a bye 14 times
    UGA record (1-13)

    Over the last 40 years UF had a bye week before UGA with UGA also having a bye 5 times
    UGA record (2-3)* (Potentially 3-3 after this year)

    Over the last 40 years UGA had a bye week before UF without UF also having a bye 5 times
    UGA record (3-2)

    Over the last 40 years neither UGA nor UF had a bye week before the game 16 times
    UGA record (11-5)
    * Most of these games UGA had a cupcake and UF played Auburn the week prior

    UGA bye weeks before UF game = 10
    UF bye weeks before UGA = 19

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