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HATE WEEK 2014: The Reggie Ball Awards

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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 fueled 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, unfiltered form. This is that week.

Kevin C. Cox

Good Tuesday morning, Dawg fans.  No, we haven't heard anything new about Todd Gurley.  Yes, we're mad as hell about it, and we're not gonna take it anymore.  Except we kind of are, because we can't do nothing 'cept sit here and wait until the bureaucrats in Indianapolis put down their beers, get off their Barcaloungers, and trudge their slow, deliberate butts to the desk that's been sitting untouched since Thursday with Todd Gurley's reinstatement papers on it.

But still, we can always find new and entertaining ways to hate Florida, so that's what we're going to do.  Today, I present to you a new feature at Dawg Sports:  The Reggie Ball Awards.  Why am I naming a Georgia-themed award after a famous Georgia Tech quarterback... and during HATE WEEK for Florida?  Well, I'm glad you asked, dear reader.

Georgia fans remember Reggie Ball very fondly, you must understand.  This is the case for a couple of reasons.  First, Reggie Ball wasn't a horrible quarterback.  He was kind of like Brett Favre, who had moments of sheer brilliance, followed by moments of unrivaled boneheadedness. Ball led the Yellow Jackets to a sweep of Auburn in the home-and-home series they scheduled in 2003 and 2005, and he also led the Golden Tornado to an upset of #3 Miami in the Orange Bowl in 2005, along with an upset of #9 Virginia Tech in 2006 in Blacksburg. The Engineers even rode that 2006 wave of success to an ACC Championship game (don't ask me which division they won... I have no idea).

But second, and most importantly, Reggie Ball never beat Georgia.  Not only that, but Reggie Ball always seemed to find new and creative ways to lose to Georgia, sometimes in hilarious fashion. In the 2004 Tech game, Reggie scrambled out of the pocket on 4th & 21 on Tech's last drive of the game, only to throw the ball away deep into the sidelines.  On fourth down. Which handed the game to Georgia.  In the 2006 game, Ball not only had a pass intercepted (by Paul Oliver!) at midfield to end the game, but he had also surrendered a fumble at his own 29 yard line in the 3rd quarter that Tony Taylor had run in for the Dawgs' first touchdown. In an era for Georgia Tech that saw them field great players like Calvin Johnson and Tashard Choice, Reggie Ball was our man in Atlanta.  He always made sure that Georgia came out on top.  And for that, I salute him.

Therefore, since we're smack in the middle of HATE WEEK 2014, I'd like to single out a few Florida Gator players and squads that I believe qualify for a Reggie Ball Award in the Georgia-Florida football rivalry. Not only have these Gator squads been talented, but they've also had the good sense to lose to the Georgia Bulldogs... frequently in extremely entertaining ways (for us, at least).  Let's get to the list.

The Reggie Ball Awards for the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party go to:

1) Stephen Orr Spurrier (November 5, 1966): Not Stephen Andd Spurrier, mind you.  Stephen Orr Spurrier. The Ol' Ball Coach.  You knew you'd see him in my posts at some point this week.  Most of our memories of the man in Jacksonville are decidedly PTSD-inducing, but not during his first go-round in Gainesville.  During Spurrier's senior season in the Sunshine State, he was widely considered the Heisman Trophy favorite, and had virtually locked up the trophy after his exceptional performance in Florida's victory over Auburn on October 29, 1966.  It was a good thing for him, too, because he looked positively Reggie Ball-eque in Jacksonville on that day. The ol' Ball Quarterback managed to go just 16 of 29 for 133 yards and 3 INT's as Georgia racked up a 27-10 victory.  Of that day, Bulldog legend (and All-American) Bill Stanfill would later say the following:

Holding pigs for my dad to castrate was quite a challenge. I can't say that helped prepare me for football, but it sure did remind me an awful lot of sacking Steve Spurrier.

I can't follow that quote with anything better, Dawg fans.  I wouldn't even try.

2) The 1942 Florida Gators (November 7, 1942): It's hard to put a positive spin on a 75-0 shellacking. This was, quite simply, the best day the Red and Black has ever seen in Jacksonville.  Florida partisans like to put a psuedo-patriotic spin on the events by saying that they sent all their "good players" to World War II, and we managed to squirrel in deferments for our best players so they could play football.  Unfortunately, that excuse doesn't quite, you know... make sense, since the star of that team, Frank Sinkwich, attempted to join the Marines but was medically disqualified because of his flat feet.  (He did later join the Merchant Marines and also served on an Army Air Forces football team.)  Charley Trippi also had his football career interrupted by a stint in the Army Air Forces, after which he returned to Athens in 1945. Sounds like even in 1942, the Gators were sore losers.  Color me absolutely shocked.

3) Doug Dickey (November 6, 1976): Coming to the 1976 Cocktail Party, Georgia was ranked #7 and was a 3-point favorite. Florida was ranked #10. The Gators got off to a fast start and led the game 27-13 at halftime.  Then, the Bulldogs, led by all-SEC quarterback Ray Goff, scored in the middle of the 3rd quarter to cut the lead to 27-20.  On the ensuing Gator possession, the Saurians had a 4th down with less than a yard to go on their own 29 yard line.  Naturally, since Florida had a 7-point lead, Gator head coach Doug Dickey made the executive decision to go for the 4th down deep in their own territory. Erk Russell's defense stood up and stopped the Gators on that 4th down play, and Florida flopped spectacularly after that point, eventually losing the game, a game they had led at halftime by two touchdowns, by a score of 41-27. After the game, Coach Dickey said the following:

We were not outplayed. We were outcoached. I made some dumb calls.

As a result, this game will always be known as "Fourth and Dumb."

4) The Offensive Line of the 1985 Florida Gators (November 9, 1985): After Kerwin Bell led the Saurians to a dominating victory in this series in 1984, many of the Florida faithful hoped their fortunes had finally changed in Jacksonville. Bell continued his hot streak of play into the 1985 season, and the Florida Gators came rolling down to the St. John's River in 1985 undefeated and ranked #1 in the country for the first time in their history.

In studying tapes from previous games, however, the Georgia coaching staff had figured out that the Gator linemen lined up differently for passing downs vs. running downs.  This allowed them to anticipate the plays that Florida was going to run all day long, and the Gators just couldn't get anything going on offense as a result.  The Bulldog offense rode running backs Lars Tate, Tim Worley, and fullback Keith Henderson (who scored our first 2 TD's) to a resounding 24-3 victory; Georgia's first ever victory over a team ranked #1 in the polls.  But don't take my word for it... let Larry Munson tell you the story:

5) Will Muschamp (2011-Present): I don't have to explain this one... but it makes me so dang giddy that I will, anyway.

After Urban Meyer deprived the Gators of his company at the end of 2010, Jeremy Foley decided that he needed another "big name" hire to head the Florida football program.  As a result, he went and poached the Nick Saban disciple and Head-Coach-In-Waiting at the University of Texas... William Larry Muschamp.  At that time, Muschamp was unquestionably the hottest assistant coach in college football, and had virtually every program with an opening drooling over his services.  But big, bad Florida snagged him.

Literally one of Muschamp's first moves as the Gators head coach was to declare that he'd always been a Gator in his heart, even though most of his formative years were split between Gainesville, FL, and Rome, GA, and he walked on to the football team at UGA. I guess that even though he was a Gator in his heart, he just didn't feel like playing football there for some reason?  No, according to him, "I suffered some temporary insanity there." Yeah, that's the ticket, baby.  Don't worry about being professional or anything... just burn all those bridges you had with the Georgia program.  Surely nothing will go terribly, horribly wrong, and make you wish you hadn't said those stupid, stupid things.

You know the rest of the story to date. Coach Larry's first season in Gainesville was a mundane 7-6 affair, including Florida's first loss to Georgia in 4 years.  His second season in Gatorland was surprisingly successful, with an 11-1 regular season marred only by... Florida's first back-to-back loss to Georgia since the 1989 season. Last year was just a horrific(ally awesome) 4-8 tire fire for Muschamp, including ushering in Florida's first three-game losing streak to Georgia since the 1987-'89 WLOCP games.  And now, we come to 2014... (to be continued)

Congratulations to all these extremely deserving Reggie Ball Award winners!  I'll be back with more Gator scorn tomorrow.  Until then...

Go Dawgs!  Beat Florida!