Believe it or not, there was a time when UGA owned Florida

Those were the days: Tim Worley against the No. 1 Gators in 1985. (Photo from www.dawgbone.net)

A Dawg day: Tim Worley scores against No. 1 Florida in 1985. (Photo from www.dawgbone.net)

This will come as scant consolation to Georgia fans, but Florida folks were once like you. The Gators would arrive in Jacksonville fearing the worst, and they’d get it.

Here’s how completely this rivalry has turned: Vince Dooley, the best coach in Georgia history, worked against four different Gators coaches over a quarter-century and had a winning record against each; Mark Richt, the second-best coach in Georgia history, has worked against three different Florida coaches over the past decade and has a losing record against each.

From 1964 through 1989, Georgia beat Florida 18 times (and tied once) in 26 meetings. In the 21 games since, Florida has won 18 times. The Bulldogs can’t even rent the game they used to own. The series flipped when Dooley retired as coach after the 1988 season and Steve Spurrier took the Gators in 1990, but even after Spurrier left for the NFL after the 2001 season nothing much has changed.

Which isn’t to say what we’ve witnessed is unfamiliar. On the contrary, the feeling of dread that has descended on Georgia was once expressed rather poignantly by eminent Gators. The year was 1984. Florida arrived in Jacksonville with maybe its best team ever — although Charley Pell, its coach, had stepped down after three games amid an NCAA investigation — but no real confidence that it could beat Georgia.

Because Florida would always lose to Georgia. Bulldogs backers recall Belue-to-Scott as the greatest play in the history of collegiate football; Gators fans remember that the Florida defender with the best angle fell as Lindsay Scott turned upfield. Other Gators lowlights: Bill Stanfill rising from a sick bed to sack Spurrier, who would win the Heisman; Richard Appleby, a Bulldogs receiver, throwing an 80-yard touchdown pass off an end-around; Florida coach Doug Dickey failing on a gamble that became known as “fourth-and-dumb”; Georgia driving 99 yards behind John Lastinger to the touchdown that beat Florida 10-9.

That excruciating drive came in 1983 and was fresh on the minds of Gators this correspondent interviewed in November ‘84. Said Spurrier, then coach of the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits: “Twelve or so times we’ve played Georgia with the SEC on the line, and they were either better or tougher or luckier than we’ve been. Probably Georgia just expects to win big games more than Florida does.”

Said Ray Graves, the Gators’ coach from 1960 through 1969: “After all the strange plays Georgia has pulled off, with guys falling down and guys knocking each other down, there’s always a feeling that a team can start believing in a jinx. You keep losing and losing, and you say, ‘Ah, we’ll get you next year,’ and then the other side says, ‘Yeah, that’s what your grandpa said, too.’ ”

A Georgia fan born in early 1990 has reached adulthood knowing only three Bulldogs victories over Florida: In 1997 under Jim Donnan, when Robert Edwards ran wild; in 2004 under Richt, when Florida coach Ron Zook had already been rendered a lame duck, and again in 2007, the year Richt’s players danced in the end zone after their first touchdown.

Of Richt’s eight losses to the Gators, half have come when he appeared to have the more talented team. A true oddity: Richt has taken Georgia to the SEC championship game three times, but beat Florida in none of those seasons.

OK, who wins?

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Speaking 27 years ago, the former Gator Cris Collinsworth said: “Something would always happen to us to make us turn around and say, ‘Wait a minute – is there really a jinx?’ ”

Today Georgia will play as a favorite, having won its past five games. Florida, by way of contrast, has lost three in a row. But similar dynamics prevailed last year: Georgia had won three straight and Florida had lost three straight, and the Gators won in overtime.

Recent history in this series has driven this correspondent into a default position: I’ll believe Georgia can beat Florida only after I see Georgia beat Florida. Which, believe it or not, was a different correspondent’s position regarding a different team back in 1984.

Said Hubert Mizell, then of the St. Petersburg Times: “I’ve seen so many weird things happen in that [Georgia] game that if Florida led by 28 points going into the fourth quarter, I’d call it 50-50.”

For the record, Florida beat Georgia 27-0 in 1984, breaking a six-game losing streak against the Bulldogs. Was Gators domination finally at hand? Nope. Florida entered the 1985 game ranked No. 1 in the nation for the first time in its history. It lost to Georgia 24-3.

By Mark Bradley

260 comments Add your comment

Mr. Teacher

October 28th, 2011
11:37 am

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2011
11:40 am

Kudos, Mr. Teacher.

Rickster

October 28th, 2011
11:40 am

DANG! Second.

Rickster

October 28th, 2011
11:42 am

Probably Georgia just expects to win big games more than Florida does.”

Not any more.

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2011
11:46 am

Those quotes are weird, are they not?

Dink

October 28th, 2011
11:46 am

MB, thanks for the shout out to Lastinger. Of course it reminds me of another memory… What time is it in Texas?

Smyrna Resident

October 28th, 2011
11:47 am

I believe Tim Worley was recently arrested in our fair city for DUI, failure to use a turn signal, failure to comply with the orders of a police officer and making threatening gestures to police officers (while on police cruiser dash cam).

Apparently, many of Coach Richt’s players still play homage to #38 with their own arrests.

Ah, the TRADITION of Bulldog Football….

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2011
11:47 am

Ten to nine.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

October 28th, 2011
11:48 am

Great blog MB! Incredible just how things have turned in the rivalry in 25 years. I tend to toe the line you do. I will believe we will be Florida when it actually happens and then only after confirming it with 3 sources. It is simply that hard to believe.

Dontavius Supremo

October 28th, 2011
11:51 am

That was before the population of Florida outstripped Georgia by hundreds and hundreds of thousands. Look at all of the college programs that exist in Florida now. However, you know what they say about the tides of fortune.

Herschel Talker

October 28th, 2011
11:53 am

MB:

“I’ll believe Georgia can beat Florida only after I see Georgia beat Florida.”

So what say you on the game tomorrow? Who wins?

HT

cantondawg

October 28th, 2011
11:53 am

Smyrna Resident,

Tim Worley was arrested over 3 years ago. I’m a personal friend of his and he has turned his life around completely and is doing very well. It’s pathetic when you want to degrade someone without actually knowing the person or how they’ve changed…

cantondawg

October 28th, 2011
11:58 am

I believe that HT is actually Kirby “Benedict” Smart trying to weasel his way into the head coaching job….Kirby you’ll never get a chance after that BS stunt you pulled leading us on to become DC and then staying at Bama at the last minute…

P-Man

October 28th, 2011
11:58 am

I remember when we went to Jacksonville, beat Florida, then came home. No big deal. Now, it’s in our heads, just like it was for Florida, that something bad is going to happen, that maybe there’s a jinx. I don’t belive that, but then again, I ain’t playing, so it doesn’t matter what I believe…

Abnerish

October 28th, 2011
11:58 am

‘Yeah, that’s what your grandpa said, too.’ Priceless.

Mtn Dawg

October 28th, 2011
11:59 am

Ah yes. It’s nice to have that institutional memory, Mark, to put things in perspective. I predict the tide is getting ready to turn. BTW, the one and only UGA-FLA game I’ve attended was in 1980. There’s no describing that, although some good attempts have been made.

Thanks Mark.

1eyedJack

October 28th, 2011
12:02 pm

Last year I spent all day Sunday curled up in a fetal position.

PMC

October 28th, 2011
12:02 pm

sure they weren’t wearing leather helmets back then?

Dawgmess

October 28th, 2011
12:02 pm

I’m not sure what Smyrna Resident was attempting to contribute to this discussion.

sogadog

October 28th, 2011
12:05 pm

I attended the 1984 and 1985 games. The Gator fans tore down the goal posts in 84 and the Dawg fans returned the favor in 1985. Jacksonville police let the Gator fans run wild in 84, but in 85, they clobbered a number of Dawg fans with billy sticks. My buddy proudly wore a large black and blue goose egg on his forehead on the drive back to Athens courtesy of a Jacksonville officer. A cold Budweiser applied to a goose egg will bring the swelling down.

Shug

October 28th, 2011
12:07 pm

My eyes mist when I think of THE WORLD’S BIGGEST COCKTAIL PARTY. Everybody in the car, it’s time to roll!

blazer

October 28th, 2011
12:09 pm

let hope it stays just like it is now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Larry Munson jr

October 28th, 2011
12:18 pm

I’d say Wally Butts was the second best coach

outkasted

October 28th, 2011
12:18 pm

like i’ve continually said the tide will turn again and it starts this year…..just one more day!!!

Todd G.

October 28th, 2011
12:20 pm

In my next performance, I will be biting the head off of a live baby gator during my pregame pep talk to our outstanding defense. That will motivate them to play even rougher than we did against Vanderbilt. Nuck, nuck nuck.

Parkland Dawg

October 28th, 2011
12:22 pm

The 1984 game was my senior year at Georgia, and I was at the game. The 99 yard drive started after we intercepted the Gators at our one yard line. The big play in that drive was a 3rd down pass to our TE, Clarence Kay. After he was tackled, Florida linebacker Wilbur Marshall piled on with a late hit. Stupid play cost Florida the game, and the Dawgs went on to win. I know our boys can win this thing tomorrow, but I’m a nervous wreck right now. GATA Georgia!

pj

October 28th, 2011
12:23 pm

I moved to Athens in 1984 and for the next 6 years I just assumed we would beat the Gators. I remember listening Munson as we beat them 24-3 and Kerwin Bell got his arse handed to him. Fast forward to present day – this is the only game that ALWAYS gives me that pessemistic, sinking feeling heading into it. Psychology is way bigger than some people give it credit for – and the Gators have all of it on their side. I’m hopeful for us this year, but that “dread” in my heart still lurks.

Beast from the East

October 28th, 2011
12:27 pm

“Believe it or not, there was a time when UGA owned Florida”

Mark,
There was also a time when gas was 99 cents a gallon, cellphones weighed about 5 pounds, the internet was still waiting to be invented by Al Gore and Verne Lundquist had a clue as to what was going on during a footbll game. Alas, those are all distant memories.
Go Gators!

James Adams

October 28th, 2011
12:30 pm

Mark Richt is the best football coach Georgia has ever had. The SEC wasn’t nearly as complete as it has been over the last two decades. Very top-heavy in Dooley’s days.

layinlow

October 28th, 2011
12:32 pm

Sogadog, love that story. Must a been a heck of a weekend.

Dawgfan

October 28th, 2011
12:35 pm

We lost in 2005 because Shockley did not play. Joe T tried but just could not fill the void.

Hunkerdown

October 28th, 2011
12:37 pm

Who can tell me the line on the game? Go Dfawgs!

GT

October 28th, 2011
12:37 pm

Spurrier is hated for being so honest and beating Georgia at Florida. When he asked the question, ,how can Georgia be so high in the national recruiting polls every year and not be that good. Bobby Ross ask the same question years later when his Tech team was favored over Georgia but never quiet took it to Georgia like Spurrier. Neither of of Georgia or the Spurrier Florida were classy winners, Georgia still even makes an ass of themselves beating the small potatoes like Vandy. But with Miami and FSU in the state, I always felt Florida had bigger fish to fry and were not as please with themselves if they couldn’t beat the teams in its state as Georgia was beating Florida.

I can’t think of a year where Georgia should win more than this year. Florida is about as weak as I have ever seen them. Georgia has that dream team recruiting class. Maybe the reports of this talent is fictional. Maybe hype sells newspapers and Georgia is nothing but hype. We will know in a few hours, but if they don’t win this game I can’t wait to hear what Spurrier has to say. Maybe he will be kind because he is already beating them with another under talented team.

Beast from the East

October 28th, 2011
12:38 pm

Dawgfan,
Still making excuses for a game played 6 years ago? All teams face injuries. That’s why they allow 85 players on the roster.

GTBob

October 28th, 2011
12:39 pm

Mark Richt is the best football coach Georgia has ever had.

If this is the case then you guys really need to examine coaches better in the future before hiring.

bjohndawg

October 28th, 2011
12:39 pm

Lastinger had a lot of 10-9 games.

Dawg77

October 28th, 2011
12:41 pm

UGA owned Florida in the 70-s and 80’s. It’s absolutely stunning that they have won 17 out of 20. It mirrors our record with Georgia Tech over the last 20 years. Georgia Tech will never be as talented as UGA, but we will always be as talented or have better talent than Florida.

GT

October 28th, 2011
12:42 pm

Vince Dooley was the only coach Tech hated at Georgia. Hate is the highest respect a opponent can pay another team or coach. Dooley was by far the greatest coach Georgia ever had. Georgia hates Spurrier for good reason. He owns ya.

Spaceman Spiff

October 28th, 2011
12:42 pm

@ GT

I guess it is a good thing that we own the technerds!

Joe Cox

October 28th, 2011
12:43 pm

man i love the dogs.

San Diego Dawg

October 28th, 2011
12:44 pm

I hope our players don’t feel this way, but put your money on the Gators. It’s just stupid to do anything else until we prove we can win. Tomorrow will be the first GA/FL game I haven’t watched in probably 30 years. Hopefully, this will shake things up a bit. Go Dawgs!

JTH

October 28th, 2011
12:45 pm

We used to have a saying around here before the evil BCS came around;

Gator meat is Sugar sweet.

Save your job Richt. Reverse the jinx.

Herschel Talker

October 28th, 2011
12:45 pm

GTBob at 12:39:

Well said. Richt is indeed the best coach we’ve had, but that’s only because we’re comparing him to dog poop. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

FIRE MARK RICHT!!! WE NEED US A WINNER TO LEAD US TO THE PROMISED LAND!!!

HT

GT

October 28th, 2011
12:49 pm

When is the last time you beat Florida and the win streak with Tech? This team coming out of Athens now days doesn’t own anybody. The pure joy yall had beating Vandy was to me a team on the ropes looking for something to cheer about anywhere any how. And then this paper acting like you have done something beating the four weakest teams in the SEC and now playing a Florida team that is practically diseased and making it sound like your train is really moving. The only thing that amazing me more than the homer hype you get is who did you pay to get this schedule and who in the SEC has an easier schedule than Georgia? You don’t play anybody. The one team you did play beat you at your place.

Dogs Smell

October 28th, 2011
12:50 pm

Even with Florida down they will beat this ga team………again.

Gator Stomp

October 28th, 2011
12:52 pm

You will all pay for the Gator Stomp for the 4th year in a row. i-95 will be the trail of tears for you, yet again.

Brucerugby79

October 28th, 2011
12:55 pm

Great Job Mark ! one of my favorites was 76 losing at halftime we knew we had them—Time for the worm to turn–GO DOGS !!!!

My third leg

October 28th, 2011
12:57 pm

florida is bad

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

October 28th, 2011
12:58 pm

The Georgia State Patrol will be out in force this weekend and not so many of the players (and now the coaches) should be worried about going to jail. I heard the Florida State Patrol is working with GSP to make the highways safe from drunk drivers. That is probably a good idea and they can keep their eyes open for stolen cars while they are at it. The players are going to be on a bus so I don’t think not having a valid drivers license is going to mean all that much for them. I heard Coach Grantham has hired a limo and he’s coming in like the godfather. That should strike some fear. That and the doughnuts.

My third leg

October 28th, 2011
12:59 pm

HEY MARK CAN YOU IMPLEMENT A LIKE BUTTON ON HERE SIMLAR TO FACEBOOK?