Let's get one thing straight: I hate Florida. It's not just a simple dislike, a harmonious discord, or even a deep, latent enmity. I hate Florida with the fire of a thousand suns being stoked by the fire of an additional thousand suns. In a world where my choices were to cheer for Florida or go blind, I'd start learning Braille. Most of the time, however, I am (relatively) civil while expressing this intense Gator hatred.
For one week a year, though, I allow my hate to come out of the closet and be displayed in its raw, naked form. This is that week.
Some people are engaging in statistical analysis of the matchup (or even sketchy statistical analysis with an agenda... which surely has never been done before). Some people are simply trying to ignore the buildup, so as to not lose productivity at work. Balderdash, I say. I'm giving in and embracing my irrational, uncompromising hatred of everything that is the Florida Gators.
Tonight, I give you reasons number 25-21 for why I hate the Florida Gators, and you should, too.
Gator Hater Reason #25: Their program is openly accepting of men with loose morals.
I had to word this phrase carefully, because many of us don't mind women with loose morals. When it comes to men, however... well, that's just another story altogether, ain't it?
Some might think I'm living in a glass house here and throwing stones here, but our arrest issues have mostly been of the "emerging from an alley" variety. And on the occasion when we have had serious
Mettenberger Lemon Baker issues, Mark Richt has dealt with those issues in the severest possible way.
Urban Meyer, on the other hand, has repeatedly chosen to put winning ahead of building character in his players. Chris Rainey's barely-punished harassment of his girlfriend is just the most recent example. When Brandon Spikes gouged at Washaun Ealey's eyes last year, he "sent a strong message" by suspending him for so short a time that the player himself decided that the punishment didn't fit the crime. And when players have been arrested for fighting in nightclubs and resisting arrest, or other crimes involving violence, they get a bare minimum of punishment.
For embracing the criminole and convict culture formerly espoused by the previous two flagship football programs in Florida, the Gators have earned our hate.
Gator Hater Reason #24: They made Les Miles look like a great coach.
During the Florida/LSU Game on October 9, the once-beaten Gators found themselves in a shootout with LSU as regulation time drew to a close. Florida was leading 29-26, and stopped LSU to force a 4th & 3 from the 36 yard line. LSU lined up to attempt a 52-yard field goal, then called timeout. During the timeout, everybody in the entire viewing audience thought, "watch for that fake they ran against South Carolina." Coming out of the break, the announcers said, "remember that Miles likes to run the fake, like he did against South Carolina."
When the ball was snapped, LSU ran that fake play that they ran against South Carolina, and screwed it up. The holder didn't flip the ball correctly, and it bounced well short of the kicker, who was running feverishly down the field. The crazy college football gods intervened, however, and the pass, which was a lateral by about 6 nanometers, bounced directly into the hands of LSU's kicker. Florida looked stunned that LSU would even think about running a fake, and the Tigers gained a first down, which they then converted into the game-winning touchdown with 6 seconds left on the clock.
Now, being an LSU fan as well as a Georgia fan, I thought it was just fine that the Bayou Bengals emerged victorious. When your team plays so ineptly as to make Les Miles look like a tactical genius (oh, excuse me... riverboat gambler. I hate that term), then you've earned my hatred.
(Come to think of it, though, that fake punt was yet another example of how the Gators are starting to look more and more like the Georgia Bulldogs. That might not be such a bad thing as we approach the upcoming game.)
Gator Hater Reason #23: No one likes a Gator
A bulldog is a creature that manages to be both cute, friendly, and still have a ferocious air about him. People love Bulldogs. A gator, however is scaly, ugly, and lord help you if you get close to one, 'cause you will probably be coming away from the encounter missing an extremity or a heartbeat.
At one time, there was some talk at Florida about getting a live mascot of some kind. When they realized they'd have to do something like this, however...
...the idea was quickly scrapped.
Even fans of the Gators generally agree. When it comes to the actual live animal, the only good gator...
Gator Hater Reason #22: Their coaches just can't decide if they want to stick around or not.
In the last 3 years, the heads of both of the premier Gator programs (football and basketball) have decided to leave their post, only to change their mind and come back with their tails tucked between their legs. Billy Donovan decided to leave for the greener pastures of the Orlando Magic, only to decide that the pastures were greener in places not inhabited by hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world. Urban Meyer... well, we all know his heart-attack-no-it's-just-gas, daughter-ignoring story.
Gator Hater Reason #21: The Gator Chomp
Florida is not the only school to utilize a widely-known hand signal. FSU has the Tomahawk Chop, and the state of Texas has one for practically every school. (Gig 'em for the Aggies, Horns for Texas, Guns up for Tech, a big claw-hand for Baylor, and the
shocker Cougar Paw for Houston.)
Of all the hand signals that I've seen before, though, the "Gator Chomp" is the only one that actively encourages its practitioners to mock their opponents during its exercise. It's very practice by every fan within eyeshot of an opposing fan is demeaning, inflammatory, and just screams, "Hey! I'm obnoxious, arrogant, and proud of it!"
Well, that's about it for tonight. Some might question the voracity of my hatred this week, but in all fairness, I do come about it honestly...
God, I love my grandmother. She's a salty old girl.
More of the list will come tomorrow!