I had a crazy thing happen while discussing Georgia/Florida with a student the other day. The student, a big fan of college football, made the following statement: “Florida has always been the better football program.” After I tried to disabuse him of that notion, it occurred to me that to him, Florida always HAS been the better football program.”
Think about it. He is 22. He was born the year I graduated from high school. Even if he started paying attention to college football at the tender age of 7, Florida was on their third win in a row over Georgia. The Gators won the first of their four SEC championships in a row, culminating in their national championship in 1996. Since then, the Gators have won two more SEC championships and another national championship. The Gators are perennially in the discussion for the SEC East race and more often than not in the national championship race. To this young man, the statement “Florida has always been the better football program” is a true statement.
That led me to think about the current voters in the Harris Poll, the Coaches Poll and the AP Poll. Yes, those voters are nearly all older than 22 (I didn’t take the time to look, but just perusing the Harris Poll list leads me to believe that is the case), but the writer, especially the rank and file, everyday ‘cub’ reporter in local and regional papers nation-wide are in my student’s cohort. To them Florida has nearly always had the better football program. While it is pretty easy to see that among the collective thought process, a big Florida win over LSU means more to the collective mindset than a big Georgia win over LSU. Afterall, LSU had just gotten beaten pretty badly the week before Georgia’ win over them. A similar thought process explains why Florida’s loss to Ole Miss is considered an aberration, while Georgia’s loss to Alabama is just par for the course. Likewise, a Georgia win over Florida will mean more than a Florida win over Georgia, even though Georgia is the higher ranked team.
Finally, while last year is widely considered to be a momentum changer in the series, the only way that will be true is if Georgia wins. Paul Westerdawg made the comment that Coach Richt wrote a check last year that the Dawgs would have to cash this year. JeromefromDecatur, in a guest post on Georgia Sports Blog, made the point that as a motivational tactic, it rivaled anything the Head Ball Coach ever did. Basically, Coach Richt burned the ships they came on. There is no looking back, no returning, no going back to the ‘old way’ of Georgia being Florida’s whipping boy, which is really the new way, when you think about it.