After the hated Gators won back-to-back N.C.A.A. tournament titles in basketball and sandwiched a national championship in football in between, a frisson of fear ran through Bulldog Nation as the Georgia faithful fretted over the gathering storm in Gainesville. Were we on the verge of entering an era of total athletic dominance by our Florida overlords?
I, for one, had my doubts about the supposed superiority of the Gator athletic program, so I took it as an extremely positive sign when Georgia decisively beat top-ranked Florida for the national gymnastics championship. Doug Gillett expressed it best:
This brings me to the N.C.A.A. men's tennis tournament. Earlier this evening, top-ranked Georgia claimed a 4-0 victory over No. 19 Florida to advance to the quarterfinals. The Bulldogs ran their record to 29-0 by beating both Auburn and the Gators in consecutive rounds.
Naturally, I hope the Georgia men's tennis team finishes the season undefeated and claims the national championship, just as I hope our second-ranked women's tennis team wins its match with William & Mary tomorrow night and thereafter wins it all, our top-ranked men's golf team wins the N.C.A.A. East Regional and goes on to take the tournament title, and our women's golf team uses its second-place finish at the N.C.A.A. Central Regional to springboard a national title run.
The more immediate achievement, though, was the win over Florida. The Red and Black did not acquit themselves well against the Gators either on the basketball court or on the baseball diamond; under the circumstances, the 'Dawgs did passably well against the Big Lizards in football, although they still lost the game.
Few would argue that N.C.A.A. championships in men's tennis or in women's gymnastics are as consequential as national titles in men's basketball or in football, but Sunday Morning Quarterback is right that any sport worth playing is a sport in which it is worthwhile to win a championship. Even in the less publicly prominent sports, however, an athletic program earns points towards the Directors' Cup and wins over a rival institution in a national title-determining setting are important in demonstrating which is the top sports department in the conference. No, Florida is not returning to its historic mediocrity . . . we're just better.
It was a nice run, Gators, but it's done. We'll see y'all in Jacksonville.