This week, I've been mulling over the many and varied reasons that any self-respecting Bulldog fan should hate the Florida Gators (in the absence of extenuating circumstances, of course), and have been highlighting the most poignant items. Today my penultimate entry probably only really inspires significant enmity if you're a big history buff (as I am). Nevertheless, these are my reasons for hating the Gators, not anyone else's, so here we go:
Gator Hater Reason #4: They Can't Figure Out When Their Football Program Started
(Alternate working title: They're Part of Your Team at Work, and They Screw Stuff Up So Badly That You Have to Spend All Your Day Mopping Up Behind Them And Don't Have Time To Write Your Daily Hate Week Article Over Lunch Like You Normally Do So You Can't Give an Issue Like This the T. Kyle King-esque Attention That It Deserves. My sincerest apologies.)
I have given this issue the History Learnin' treatment in the past, and I encourage you to check out that article and learn the specific details about the first football game between the University of Georgia and the University of Florida, which took place in 1904. If nothing else, you'll want to see the story with the headline, "Georgia Warriors wack away with Florida." Ah, be still my beating heart.
As my parenthetical comment above might imply, real-world concerns have kept me from whipping up a fresh batch of haterade today. I have written extensively on this topic in the past, however, and I have republished below an except of the piece I wrote for the (now-defunct) Maple Street Press back in 2011 detailing the history of the Georgia-Florida rivalry. (It was for a season preview magazine edited by then-Mayor T. Kyle King, and most of the content was contributed by the Mayor and current members of the Dawg Sports editorial staff.) I hope you enjoy learning about how and why the Florida Gators are a bunch of lying cheaters.
Georgia and Florida don't agree on much. In fact, they don't even agree as to when the rivalry between the two schools actually began. From the Georgia perspective, the story seems simple.
On October 15, 1904, the University of Georgia Red and Black (the team was still over a decade away from adopting the "Bulldogs" moniker) traveled to Macon, Georgia, to play a team that represented an institution known as "The University of Florida." At the conclusion of the game, Georgia emerged victorious by a score of 52-0.
This selfsame "University of Florida" team had previously played (and lost) two games that season against the University of Alabama and the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (later renamed Auburn University). The "University of Florida" team would go on to play (and lose) two additional games that season against Georgia Tech and Florida State College (later named Florida State University).
Perhaps it's understandable that the University of Florida would want to disavow this 1904 team that lost all five games it played by a cumulative score of 225-0. (Not that it would have been alone in the annals of zero-win seasons accumulated by UF teams.) To lend an air of legitimacy to this purge, Florida bases its claim on a legal technicality.
In 1903 and 1904, the University of Florida's campus was housed in Lake City. In 1905, the Florida Legislature merged the University of Florida with a three other much-smaller institutions, creating the brand new... (drumroll, please)... University of Florida. (Actually, it was "The University of the State of Florida," but legislators apparently realized how silly that sounded and changed the name back to its familiar form in 1909.)
The campus was relocated to its now-familiar environs in Gainesville, and the president, faculty, and student body of the "old" U of F were all relocated to Gainesville, as well. Yet, somehow, we are asked to believe that the "new" University of Florida was a completely original, distinct entity from the previous institution that had the same president, faculty, and students. Personally, I think that if it looks like a Gator, walks like a Gator, and smells like a Gator... it's a Gator.
From the University of Florida's standpoint, they didn't field a football team until 1906, and the first official game in the Georgia rivalry was on November 6, 1915, in Jacksonville, Florida. On this auspicious date, the Sunshine State Saurians managed only a marginally better score line, getting roundly beaten once again by the Red and Black 37-0.
So, no matter how you count it, the Gators are still losers. Of course, most of their current fans think their program started in 1990, with the exception of that one year in 1966 that they fielded a team and their QB Steve Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy. It's pretty impressive that a guy who played football for only one year on a team that only existed for one year won the Heisman Trophy, right? And hey, how did they do when they played Georgia that year? Well, see the first sentence of this paragraph. Yep.