The dueling insults story is easily the most predictable aspect of coverage this week leading up to Saturday’s Georgia-Florida game.
Mark Richt thought his 2007 team was flat, so he challenged them to get an excessive celebration penalty after their first score against the Gators that year. The whole team danced in the end zone and Georgia went on to win the game. The special attention SEC officials have given the Dogs since then has made some question Richt’s move, but at the time many hailed it as a great motivational ploy.
Urban Meyer didn’t think so. He told the world that it was a “bad deal” and would be “forever in the mind of Urban Meyer” (why is it humorless prigs always like to refer to themselves in the third person?). So he used it as a motivational tool all during the offseason, and in 2008 his Gators took it out on the Dogs.
That wasn’t enough for Meyer, of course, so he childishly extended the game with a couple of unnecessary timeouts, just to rub some salt in the wound and thumb his nose at Richt.
And nobody is surprised to read that Georgia has pictures of Meyer calling timeout and the score of last year’s game posted in its locker room and weight room.
A.J. Green says the pictures are “motivation for me” because the timeouts were “a sign of disrespect. So I’m going to play my heart out.”
Meanwhile, the Gators are still trying to milk some motivation out of the 2007 dance, with defensive tackle Terron Sanders telling the Orlando Sentinel it was “a sign of disrespect” and “a slap in the face. We can’t just let it be a one-year thing where we feel like we took care of it. We always have to look back at it as disrespect.”
What’s ridiculous is that programs of the caliber of Georgia and Florida need to look for signs of “disrespect” and motivational gimmicks in order to get their players up for the annual showdown in Jacksonville.
Why is all this posturing and bulletin-board stuff necessary? Would A.J. not play his heart out if the Gators hadn’t disrespected the Dogs last year? Of course, not. He plays his heart out every week.
But especially in a game like this, that should be the norm for all the players on both sides.
As Richt said in his Tuesday press briefing, “I don’t think this game needs anything extra from the past to get anybody excited to play.” If anyone on either team doesn’t “respect” the other program, you have to question whether they even belong on the field.
After all, this is Georgia-Florida, a storied rivalry. The crowd is split 50/50 so the noise is almost constant. In most years, the game decides the SEC East. The two programs battle over the same recruits in each other’s territory. That ought to be enough to get the players pumped to the max for this game without the coaches having to resort to the old “remember what they did last year” bit or on-field stunts or cheap-shot attempts at showing up the other team.
It’s the Dogs and Gators, so shut up and play!