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Georgia-South Carolina: If Not Ownership, Then a Lease with an Option to Buy

I begin this posting with an apology to Third Down Draw's Robert, a South Carolina fan who manages to be a strong Gamecock partisan without being delusional. He is a credit to a fan base that otherwise possesses the Southeastern Conference's least favorable ratio of arrogance to accomplishment and I mean no offense to Robert or to what I am sure are the many other Gamecock boosters like him, none of the rest of whom, unfortunately, I have had the privilege of encountering in my more than 20 years of attending S.E.C. football games.

As has been demonstrated on multiple occasions, South Carolina has the weakest football tradition in the S.E.C. Yes, weaker even than Vanderbilt's, inasmuch as the Commodores were a turn-of-the-century regional power under Dan McGugin and won their first bowl game on December 31, 1955 . . . more than 39 years before the Palmetto State Poultry won their first bowl game on January 2, 1995.

So you've beaten Ohio State in a bowl game. Name an S.E.C. team that hasn't, for crying out loud!

In his recent breakdown of the Bulldogs' upcoming game against South Carolina, Doug Gillett had, inter alia, this to say about the Big Chickens, accompanied by an adult language advisory:

Aside from the secondary, which should be improved over last year, what scares me is a potent one-two punch at the RB position with Cory "Back Like Cooked Crack" Boyd and Mike Davis -- and, of course, Spurrier. When presented with a shitty O-line last season, the Evil Genius eventually found ways around it, and I have no reason to think he won't eventually be able to do that this year. What little I know about the Gamecocks' O-line progression seems to indicate that they're a little better at protecting the run than the pass, not that Boyd needs that much help to begin with; if Spurrier decides to lean on the run a little more in the early going, he could have some success with that. . . .

We Bulldogs need to be thankful that traditional SEC scheduling hands us South Carolina so early in the year; if this season is anything like '06, the Gamecocks' lines will be a mess early but the team as a whole will manage some noticeable improvement as the season progresses, so we need to take advantage. Regardless, a defensive struggle seems pretty likely, as these two teams have averaged fewer than 28 points total in their six matchups during Mark Richt's tenure. But if Georgia can build an early lead, however small, on the Gamecocks, then they can pound the ball with Lumpkin and Moreno in the second half and potentially force Blake Mitchell to do something stupid. Georgia wins by a TD.

While obviously offered from the partisan perspective of a devoted 'Dawg, Doug's assessment seems fair, acknowledging the legitimacy of the challenge the Gamecocks likely will pose and recognizing the improvement in the Red and Black's division rival from Columbia.

Would a dude this cool give you anything less than the straight poop?

Naturally, that was not the part of Doug's breakdown upon which Cock & Fire's Brandon chose to focus. Instead, the Gamecock blogger concentrated on this excerpt from Doug's posting (which, admittedly, also makes you wonder whether he kisses his mother with that mouth):

Hate index, 1 being the Victoria's Secret Angels, 10 being someone who would hypothetically rape my great-grandmother: Eight and a half. We own their asses to the tune of a 44-13-2 all-time record, so it's not like they're some kind of bitter historical rival, but their constant "We're gonna whip your asses this year" shit-talking backed up by no discernible evidence gets them 4.5 points; Steve Spurrier earns the other four all by his lonesome.

To this, Brandon replied:
That our constant promises of defeating the spelling-challenged Dawgs in a given year has [sic.] not produced a victory since 2001 is undisputable; that we have somehow be [sic.] "own[ed]" is a notion clearly coming from not having watched the game over the last several years. (Or watching it through red-and-black-colored shades.)

In fact, in the Richt Era, the average score of the game has been 18.0-9.8 -- slightly more than a touchdown. Take out an aberrant 31-7 drubbing in 2003, and the average score has been 15.4-10.4. Neither of those points to being owned.

In fact, among the five straight losses was the 13-7 debacle in the mud in 2002, when the Bulldogs outscored the Gamecocks 10-7 in the fourth quarter in a game that was essentially in doubt until then; the come-from-behind 20-16 game in 2004, in which Lou Holtz decided to calll [sic.] 58 consecutive quarterback draws; and the 17-15 failure to execute in 2005, a game that South Carolina essentially lost by 10 yards on flubbed fieldgoals [sic.] and a missed two-point conversion pass that would have won the game.

If you want to use games from the early 1990s or the 1980s to prove your point, that's fine. Five words for you: Steve Spurrier versus Ray Goff.

The "discernible evidence" boils down to the statistical evidence that eventually, the bounces go back your way, the luck of the other guy runs out. It's called reversion to the mean. On the other hand, 15-of-17 -- now that's getting owned.

As listeners who tuned in to last week's edition of EDSBS Live already know, Burnt Orange Nation's Peter Bean was passing through Atlanta this weekend. Peter stayed with Every Day Should Be Saturday's Orson Swindle and Orson's lovely wife, The Conscience of a Nation, and I had the pleasure and privilege of dining in Casa Swindle on Saturday evening, where I went to meet Peter face-to-face for the first time.

Orson is a gracious host (and he grills a mean halibut), but, seeing as how both of us are rabid S.E.C. partisans from rival schools, he had to talk some smack to me about Florida's recent ownership of Georgia in Jacksonville. Although I noted the streaky nature of the series, which has always seen long stretches of dominance by one team over the other ere the pendulum swings back the other way, Orson gets to give me crap about the rivalry between our respective schools, because his team won all those games.

To reiterate, if your team wins, you get to gloat and develop an attitude; if your team loses, you get to make excuses and declare moral victories.

If you're a South Carolina fan, you have to deal with these facts:

  • Georgia has won five straight series meetings against South Carolina
  • Georgia has won eight of the last 10 series meetings against South Carolina
  • Georgia is 11-4 against South Carolina since the Gamecocks joined the Southeastern Conference
  • Georgia has won 18 of the last 25 series meetings against South Carolina
  • Since 1960, Georgia has gone 31-9-2 against South Carolina
  • Since 1908, Georgia has gone 41-11-2 against South Carolina
  • Since 1894, Georgia has gone 44-13-2 against South Carolina
  • Georgia has twice enjoyed a 10-game winning streak over South Carolina (from 1908 to 1941 and from 1966 to 1977), while South Carolina has never won more than two in a row against Georgia
  • Georgia has beaten South Carolina by margins of 18 (in 1924, 1970, 1983, and 2006), 19 (in 1995), 20 (in 1963), 21 (in 1967), 22 (in 1992), 23 (in 1908), 24 (in 1971, 1981, and 2003), 25 (in the Gamecocks' lone conference championship campaign in 1969), 26 (in 1939), 28 (in 1941), 31 (in 1940), 32 (in 1960), 37 (in 1920), 38 (in 1974), 39 (in 1911), and 40 points (in 1894), while South Carolina has never beaten Georgia by a margin of greater than 17 points
  • The all-time series scoring has Georgia ahead of South Carolina by a cumulative 1,287-697 margin
Yes, it's true that Steve Spurrier once went 11-1 against Georgia . . . at a different school during a streak that occurred almost entirely in another century. Gamecock fans no more get to claim credit for those victories over the Bulldogs than Georgia fans get to argue that the Red and Black benefit from Mark Richt's 10-6-1 record against the Gators as a graduate assistant, quarterbacks coach, and offensive coordinator at Florida State.

Unfortunately, this man's record does not count toward Georgia's total.

This is why the "five words" ("Steve Spurrier versus Ray Goff") are utterly irrelevant. Coach Goff was 1-6 against the Gators, but he was 3-2 against the Gamecocks. As long as we're making an issue of our favorite teams' respective records against Florida, though, I suppose I should point out the equally inconsequential, yet nevertheless true, fact that, since South Carolina joined the S.E.C. in 1992, Florida has gone 14-1 against the Gamecocks. If 15 out of 17 is being owned, what's 14 out of 15?

It is true, of course, that many of the series meetings between Georgia and South Carolina have been close contests, but Brandon needs to decide whether he thinks that matters. On the one hand, he argues that the average score of games during Coach Richt's tenure in Athens does not "point[] to being owned." He pays particular attention to narrow Georgia wins in 2002, 2004, and 2005 while dismissing the 2003 game as "aberrant" (read: inconvenient to his predetermined conclusion) and ignoring last year's shutout altogether.

Having declared closeness a criterion in determining whether a large number of recent losses to a single opponent constitutes being "owned," Brandon then turns right around and declares Florida's recent dominance of the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party "getting owned."

Well, which is it? The last five Georgia-Florida games have been decided by margins of seven, three, seven, four, and seven points, respectively, while the last five Georgia-South Carolina games have been decided by margins of six, 24, four, two, and 18 points, respectively. Which has been the closer series lately?

Admittedly, we did have to see a bit more of this than I would have liked.

Granted, if we go back in time a little farther, to the earlier part of the Gators' current run of success in Jacksonville, we find several flat-out blowouts, by such thoroughly deflating margins as 38-7 (1990 and 1998), 45-13 (1991), 52-14 (1994), 52-17 (1995), and 47-7 (1996). There is no arguing around such outcomes; Georgia simply got stomped by vastly superior Florida squads, period.

The Bulldogs' series with the Gamecocks has tended to be much more competitive, although there have been some fairly decisive Georgia victories along the way, by such scores as 28-6 (1992), 42-23 (1995), 31-15 (1997), 24-9 (1999), 31-7 (2003), and 18-0 (2006).

While none of those games was a 30-point thumping, the fact remains that, since 1990, Florida has beaten Georgia by more than 14 points seven times in 17 series meetings and Georgia has beaten South Carolina by more than 14 points six times in 15 series meetings.

Admittedly, there was one game during that span (in 2001) in which the Gators beat the Bulldogs by exactly 14 points (24-10) . . . but, then again, that period also contains one game (in 1998) in which the 'Dawgs beat the 'Cocks by exactly 14 points (17-3). If one series has evidenced "ownage" and the other has not, it would appear to be because the person offering that assessment is looking at the world through poultry-colored lenses.

Take 'em off your glasses, slap 'em on the grill, and feast on the flesh of the enemy.

None of this is to say that South Carolina won't be a good team this year; likely, they will, which is why I included the Gamecocks among the "others receiving votes" on my preseason BlogPoll ballot. I take the rivalry between the Classic City Canines and the Palmetto State Poultry very seriously and I anticipate a good game between the hedges on September 8.

I wouldn't use the word "owned" to describe the one-sidedness of the all-time series because that simply isn't the way I write or speak about such things. The facts, though, are the facts and Doug's characterization of the relations between the two rivals essentially is correct.

Maybe the past is just history and has no bearing on the future. Maybe the Evil Genius is poised to do in Columbia what he did in Gainesville. (For the record, Steve Superior took over a Florida program that had posted records of 6-5, 6-6, 7-5, and 7-5 in the four years just prior to his arrival and proceeded to win 19 of his first 22 games with the Gators. He then took over a South Carolina program almost exactly in the same position---the Gamecocks posted records of 9-3, 5-7, 5-7, and 6-5 in the four years just prior to Darth Visor's arrival---and guided the Gamecocks to 15 wins in his first 25 games with the East Coast U.S.C. Hmm . . . the Ol' Ball Coach took a 26-21 program to 19-3, then he took a program with a virtually identical 25-22 four-year ledger to 15-10. What's wrong with this picture?)

Maybe this is the year that the Bulldogs, who have won at least 10 games in four of the last five seasons, fall to a South Carolina squad that is bound for the second 10-win season in school history. I do not deny that it could happen, although there are good reasons for skepticism.

Regardless of this year's result, however, the fact remains that the Georgia-South Carolina series has been lopsided, in the record book if not always on the scoreboard. I appreciate the fact that Brandon is a devoted partisan of his team and he may have good reason to crow about the Gamecocks' 2007 season. In that, I wish him well, insofar as his interests do not conflict with mine.

The foregoing was a "Godfather" reference, by the way. I just threw that in there; I didn't even charge you for that one.

If he wishes to criticize what Doug Gillett has written, though, Brandon needs to decide upon his preferred method of attack and stick with it. Instead, he has elected to pursue two inconsistent approaches, one of which does not withstand scrutiny and the other of which is as irreconcilable as it is irrelevant.

If "owned" is not the proper term to describe the Bulldogs' 44 victories and two ties in 59 series meetings over the last 113 years, we will opt for another description. That the Bulldogs have dominated the Gamecocks, both recently and historically, in the manner that Doug describes, though, cannot be gainsaid.

Go 'Dawgs!