In case you hadn’t noticed it’s Georgia week. Otherwise known as Florida-Georgia week. It’s the week of the game formerly known as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party“. For obvious reasons both schools are trying to downplay the long-time moniker hoping to reduce the excessive alcohol imbibing and the subsequent alcohol related incidents and arrests that had marred this game for many years. You are forgiven, however, if you hadn’t noticed that it’s Georgia week.
For the first time in a long time there is a quiet calmness on the Gator side this year. Fans seem somewhat subdued compared to years past, almost a business as usual approach. Not so much out of fear or apprehension that we’ve seen so often, but more due to a quiet confidence this team has instilled in the fan base. Business as usual. As long as I can remember this week has been filled with tons of vitriol, tasteless jokes, and downright Bulldog hatred on the part of fans. While there has been some of the usual Gator message board Dwag fodder (Dwag the official Gator spelling of the popular Georgia fans moniker) it’s still not quite the same this year. That automatically begs the question of why? This week not only is the favorite stop on the schedule of old Gators everywhere, this year it’s for an SEC East title, and it’s the revenge game for last year’s debacle won by UGA on the strength of two 4th down td passes thrown by Aaron Murray. So why does it seem so quiet on the Gator side of the stadium?
For starters, the Gator football team is deafeningly quiet this year. No bulletin board material about revenge for last year’s game. No wild responses to a Georgia players tweet about rushing the field on Saturday after the first Georgia TD ala 2007’s Gator stomp game. No statements about how much these guys hate Georgia and their mothers. Nothing. Sportswriters ask the usual questions about the rivalry, the potential for winning an East title, what this game means to them and they get the same responses from the head coach on down: it’s just another game. They all count the same. Our approach is the same from week to week. Really? Not one ounce of hatred? Not one smirk that belies the calm, candid answers to the rivalry questions? Coachspeak? Nope, I have a feeling these guys really believe that mantra. It’s business as usual.
Next, from a fanbase that began the season much like they ended it last year: whining, crying, moaning, and groaning; the steady, calm, straightforward play this team has exhibited through the season has finally rubbed off on them. I get the feeling the players, who are completely vested in Will Muschamp‘s philosophy, have a calm confidence going into each game that they will be prepared completely to win the game. At this point in the season the fans have bought into that confidence. Any natural born apprehension they may have melts away in the knowledge that they have seen it all this year. Early deficits, turnovers, penalties, long drives, dropped passes have all befallen this team particularly in the first 30 minutes of games. They’ve been shut down, put down, seen everything but a hoedown and they’ve overcome it all week after week after week. This week seemingly should be no different. At least that is the mood of Gator Nation right now. It’s business as usual.
Sadly, I feel the game has lost it’s luster to some of the younger Gators who grew up watching the Gators dominate this series. For us older Gators who remember the Dwags dominating this series in the 70’s and 80’s this game will always be personal. Like Spurrier, there will always be a bad taste in our mouths when the name Georgia or Bulldogs is mentioned. This ain’t the civil war, this is the cold war. The Bulldogs are communists. Better dead than red. But alas most younger Gators no more understand that statement than understand the proper hatred a true Gator should have for the Bulldogs. The Gators have so dominated this series since the Ole Ball Coach brought his brand of Georgia hate and quick witted quirps back into this matchup that a lot of fans probably don’t even see this as a rivalry anymore. After all you have to win more than once every five years for it to be a rivalry right? Hopefully in that regard it will be business as usual.
The best part for me is that the last time the Dwags won two in a row in this series Skid Row was cranking from cassette decks. Remember those? If you don’t then you probably don’t remember the Gators losing in consecutive years in this series either. Hopefully this will not be the year they break through in that regard. My gut feeling is that they will not. I’m feeling that quiet confidence that the team and Gator Nation exudes and I think the Gators will survive any gut checks the Dwags may come out throwing and then pull away in the second half as they have all year. After all, it’s business as usual.
Yup, it’s Georgia week, The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, time to hate the black and red and tell every joke that involves bulldogs and inbreeding but for these Gators young and old, head coach to strength coach it’s simply Business as Usual.