It’s still nearly six months before the Florida-Georgia rivalry will be renewed for the 98th time in November, and already the Gators and the Dawgs are baring their teeth on social media.
The genesis of this hilarious Twitter tussle began last Thursday when Florida fans began mockingly referring to Georgia’s “14K Day” and tweeting out the number “14,000.” You’re probably thinking, ‘What is 14k Day?’ Well, it’s the anniversary of the last time Georgia won a national championship.
That’s right, Georgia’s last national championship was won with a 17-10 victory over Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1981 — exactly 14,000 days prior to last Thursday. If you want to gain a greater perspective into the antiquity of Georgia’s last natty, then consider five events of 1981 that happened after the Dawgs beat Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl that year:
(1) Lady Diana married Prince Charles; (2) NASA launched the very first Space Shuttle mission; (3) Raiders of the Lost Ark debuted at movie theaters; (4) Bette Davis Eyes became the No. 1 song; and (5) Steve Spurrier — the Gators’ legendary Dawg catcher — was still two years away from getting his first head-coaching job.
The inclination is to tell UF fans to settle down and check the scoreboard during the last two seasons in which the Dawgs pounded the Gators by scores of 42-7 (Jim McElwain’s final game) and 36-17 (Dan Mullen’s first Cocktail Party). However, it would be hypocritical of me to chastise Gator fans for pointing out how embarrassingly long it’s been since the Dawgs ruled college football.
The fact is I’ve always thought Georgia was the most overrated program in college football and I still do. And the Gator-concocted 14K Day drives that point home even further.
I’ve written it before and I will reiterate it here:
Georgia fans have way too high of an opinion of their program. The Bulldogs have won one national title in the modern era and that came nearly 40 years ago in 1980. And the only reason it happened then is because of two lightning-in-a-bottle twists of fate: The Bulldogs were fortunate enough to sign arguably the greatest player in college football history (see Herschel Walker) and they were lucky enough to take advantage of one of the biggest fluke plays in college football history (see Lindsay Scott’s catch-and-run against Florida during the national-championship season).
I once wrote that without Herschel Walker and Lindsay Scott, Georgia would be closer in history and tradition to South Carolina than it is to Florida. I’ll admit now that’s probably taking it a bit too far and, therefore, I’d like to amend that statement to say this: Without Walker and Scott, Georgia would be closer in history and tradition to Wisconsin than Florida. For most of its history, Georgia has been a good, solid program; just not an elite program.
Five SEC teams — Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Florida and Tennessee — have won national championships since the Bulldogs last won theirs. The Dawgs have one national championship in modern history; the Gators have three. The Gators have won eight SEC titles in the last 30 years; the Dawgs have won three.
Any college football historian will tell you that Spurrier changed the direction of the Florida-Georgia rivalry when he won 11 games against the Dawgs during his 12 years as UF’s head coach.
The question is this: Will Kirby Smart become Georgia’s version of Spurrier? Just as Spurrier woke up the sleeping giant at his alma mater and turned the Gators into a national power, Smart may be on the verge of doing the same at his alma mater. In three seasons at Georgia, Smart has won one SEC Championship, two Eastern Division titles and played for one national championship.
Smart is off to a good start, but he’s never going to dominate the league like Spurrier once did or even like the iconic Vince Dooley did when he won or tied for six SEC titles during his 25 years as head coach at Georgia.
Plus, it doesn’t help that Smart may have met his match in Mullen, who turned UF’s program around in one season and is starting to challenge Smart’s superiority on the recruiting trail.
Georgia’s program is certainly ahead of Florida at this very moment, but will it last?
Or will we be in this same position 38 years into the future — on Aug. 30, 2057 — with Gator fans taunting Dawg fans on 28K Day?