It’s Florida week, Bulldog Nation. That means it’s time to delve into the origins of my Gator hate. Like many of you reading this, I could easily write twenty thousand words on why hating the University of Florida is my birthright.
I could write paragraph upon paragraph on growing up during the reign of Spurrier. I loathed him with a passion, and the 1997 victory over the twenty point favorite Gators was the first moment of pure unrestrained joy that I experienced as a UGA fan.
Until I was eleven years old I just hated Florida for beating Georgia. Then I attended my first World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in 2000, and observed real live Florida fans for the first time. I have no idea what my parents were thinking when they decided to bring an eleven year-old kid into that environment, but if the idea was to make sure I never wanted to be a guy with a fake tan who smells like cheap cologne while rolling around shirtless for ABSOLUTELY NO REASON then they succeeded. I also learned that day that jorts are a bad fashion choice for any occasion. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
After that first trip to the WLOCP, I attended the next ten in a row. I could tell you about the angry drunk middle-aged Florida fan who ran at a full sprint and tackled my friend’s girlfriend into the surface of a dark gravel parking lot as she was harmlessly celebrating after the Dawgs stomped Urban Liar and Tim Tebow in 2007. The coward’s assault left her with a bloodied chin and cuts all over her arms and legs, but she handled the situation more bravely than I or any other man I know ever could have.
I could talk about the absolute clown show that was Dan Mullen’s comments about Georgia this summer and how they ultimately blew up in his face. Then I could go on and on about other reasons why I hate the Gators, but instead I’m going to tell you a story that sums up the entire Florida fan ethos.
October 28, 2006...
My Dad, Mom and I sat around our car after the Georgia-Florida game while waiting for traffic to clear out with my Dad’s best friend, his college-aged son and the same son’s roommate. As we were hanging out talking amongst ourselves a group of Florida students came strolling by.
Before we go on, it’s important that I mention that my Mother is a saint. She has been attending Georgia Football games for forty years now, and always ends up in a friendly chat with an opposing fan whenever one is around. With only one exception, she has never said a cross word to an opposing fan.
The exception occurred on this night in the parking lot in 2006. As the UF students walked past, one of the girls turned towards us, flipped up both of her middle fingers and said “F-bomb you, Georgia fans!”
We were all stunned, but my Mom responded in a calm tone with, “I’m your Mother’s age. Would you say that word to your Mother?”
The drunk Florida girl chirped back with, “If my Mom was a Georgia fan I would.”
At this point my Mom was well past the point of feeling disrespected, and matter of factly said, “Well then you’re white trash.”
The girl started screaming a string of different obscenities, and angrily stormed into our tailgate with about a dozen of her friends in tow, most of them male. My Dad of course stepped between the group and my Mother as the approaching Florida students made all sorts of threats of physical harm to all of us there.
As all of this yelling back and forth escalated, most of our group was trying to tell the Florida kids to calm down and move along. It became clear that they weren’t going to do that, so my Dad’s buddy, a towering man, stepped into the fracas and took the most aggressive of the young Gators by the shoulders and matter of factly picked him up and sat him down on the ground. It was stunning how quickly and easily this kid had been sat down, and the entire scene fell silent as everyone kind of just turned and stared in awe at my Dad’s friend.
While he had everyone’s attention, Dad’s friend pointed down to the kid on the ground and uttered these immortal words...
“Son, I kicked your Daddy’s ass down here thirty years ago, and if you’re not careful I’m going to kick your ass tonight.”
To the kids credit, he realized that he had gotten himself into a situation he didn’t want to be in, and smartly took the opportunity to leave it. The group apologized for creating the trouble, and slithered back to the bowels of North-Central Florida where they belong.
...And that’s when I knew I hated Florida.
So, that Florida fan ethos I told you about? A big group of classless loudmouths with poor manners who can’t hold their alcohol, and support one another on their quest towards the lowest lows of human behavior until realizing their rightful place in the rivalry is on the ground beneath Georgia.
Do the right thing, hate Florida.