The year was 1999
People were using a thing called Napster to intentionally listen to Ricky Martin, some of those people had beepers, we knew far more about Bill Clinton than we ever wanted to and the Georgia Bulldogs were in the middle of the Jim Donnan era.
Despite the empirical evidence on the field in Jacksonville every season, Georgia fans were spending the off-season doing what we had done for most of the last decade- telling ourselves big fat lies.
“This is the year we turn things around against the Gators!”
“Quincy Carter is going to take us to the SEC Championship!”
“Jim Donnan is building a monster!”
Those were horribly stupid things for a person to think, and it was downright irresponsible to speak any of them out loud. We did it anyways.
Even as a ten year-old, I knew that Steve Spurrier waited in Jacksonville. I knew that the inevitable pain of losing accompanied him. Despite my tender age, I also knew that Georgia had hurt Stephen Orr Spurrier very badly when he was playing college football and his sole purpose in life was to torture UGA at every moment possible. He went 11-1 against us. The eleven sucked, but the one was pretty awesome to be honest.
When it came to the Florida series being a Georgia fan was an exercise in self-delusion. We would fool ourselves by looking at little things like a signed recruit or a coaching change in a vacuum, and claiming they were victories over our rival. We wrongly believed these little random wins would lead to actual wins on the field. Thankfully, Twitter and text messaging didn’t exist, and the receipts that would have forced us to be accountable for all that stupidity have mostly been lost to time.
Let’s Fast-Forward to Today
Kirby Smart’s tenure at Georgia has been filled with lots of wonderful things. Among them...
- 2017 SEC Championship
- 2017 Rose Bowl Championship
- 3 Consecutive SEC East Titles
- 4 Consecutive Top-3 Recruiting Classes
The last few years have featured a plethora of good.
However, Kirby Smart’s greatest achievement as the University of Georgia’s Head Coach is that he has completely flipped the psychological dynamic of the Georgia-Florida series.
You can argue that other achievements of Smart’s have done more to improve the overall health of Georgia Football. That’s fine, but Kirby adding the minds of Dan Mullen and the Gator fanbase to his real-estate portfolio has been incredibly enjoyable to watch.
It’d be wrong of me if I didn’t thank the Florida fans here.
Florida fans, watching you flail around and pathetically grasp for a reason to believe that Dan Mullen is “closing the gap” and Georgia’s program is “a house of cards” after getting your asses handed to you on the field and recruiting trail for three seasons in a row is truly a joy to watch. Most of all, it’s fun to see Gator fans take every piece of news about their team and ask themselves what it means in relation to Georgia.
They say joy is doubled when it’s shared. With that spirit in mind, let’s go to the Twitter Machine and see what Florida fans have been up to recently...
Here to remind you that in their first 2 seasons at their current programs...— ᶜ ᵃ ᵐ (@ColonelCam) January 18, 2020
-Kirby Smart and Dan Mullen accumulated the same amount of wins
-Dan Mullen had 2 NY6 bowl victories to Kirby's 1
-Dan inherited a 4-7 team, Kirby inherited the #6 team per 247 Talent Composite
Did you also know that the NY6 has been around for only five years? Do Gator fans have any idea what Mark Richt could’ve done if a NY6 berth was the reward for finishing third in the conference every season when he was around? TWO WHOLE HANDS WORTH OF NON-PLAYOFF GAME RINGS FOLKS. Gator fans have some points here. Above all this tweet really makes you wonder what would happen if that Mullen guy faced Kirby Smart on a neutral field every season.
Let’s move forward...
Georgia lands 5-star quarterback Brock Vandagriff. With the transfer of Jamie Newman and now Vandagriff... I wonder if Carson Beck leaves Georgia. https://t.co/6BeADiYX9K— IAKOW Recruiting (@IAKOWRecruiting) January 21, 2020
“Ah yes, my rival beat out my team for the #1 quarterback in a future class. This is excellent news because now my rival might not start the quarterback that they beat my team out for in a earlier class. Perhaps if his talent is proven to be inferior to my rivals other quarterback my team will get a chance to get him again.”
Folks, this is an incredible play out of the second-place playbook. Let’s see if Florida can top Florida’s stupidity...
That's a very interesting data sample you've shared. I wonder what it looks like when graphed. pic.twitter.com/hgXmIXTKKk— ⭕️ (@liammatherson5) January 22, 2020
YES THEY CAN!
Nothing makes me happier than knowing a Florida fan mapped out the score of his team’s losses to Georgia over the last three years, looked at the decreasing margin of victory and looked at it as a win despite the... losses. FOLKS! This is the same type of crap logic we used to employ. “Oh it’s getting better. We’re closing the gap on the Gators.”
Has this gentleman checked the rosters and incoming recruits for 2020?
Most importantly, have Florida fans thought about the offense we fielded in Jacksonville this year?
When your HC is the OC and your rival is on their 3rd OC in 3 years pic.twitter.com/c0ndEz1EYp— The. LOGO. (@JusGettinBetter) January 21, 2020
Florida fans, if you didn’t beat us with a Senior-laden defense 4v. Bvbv we boldly employed James Coley’s “Open-Space-Is-For-Losers Clogged-Toilet Zone-Draw Attack” then you are probably screwed. Todd Grantham managed to get himself burned a couple times by the second-worst UGA offense of my life. We didn’t hire a Schottenheimer this off-season so things are bound to get better. Are you sure us being on our third straight offensive coordinator is actually a good thing? Think hard and remember you employ a Todd Grantham before you answer...
Let’s Look at the Future
When it comes to this rivalry, Kirby Smart was born in the darkness. He was molded by it when Steve Spurrier came to Athens in 1996. I remember going against a coach who hated us that much every season. I can tell you from personal experience that this is going to get much, much worse before it gets better for you, Gators. It is merely November, and there is a long winter ahead. That isn’t the worst part...
The worst part is that every year will be an exercise in self-flagellation. You’ll ignore all the obvious signs of impending doom. You’ll latch onto little things like us giving you a 5-star linebacker or Mike Bianchi’s annual article that wrongly predicts you’re going to get back to the top of the SEC. You’ll have the most painful thing- hope. You’ll feel it wash out of you when the inevitable loss hits you in Jacksonville. Fandom is stupid. So despite what’s best for your emotional and physical health, you will find a reason to believe things will be different the next year.
While you torture yourselves with Twitter conspiracies and grasp for straws of belief we’ll be sitting back laughing gratefully while enjoying our ownership of the rivalry. We remember what it was like to be you, and we are quite happy to watch it from the other side.
It’s Freaky Friday and you’re living in our 1999. Sing it with me, Gators.