Friday, October 30, 2009

What I did at the Georgia-Florida game

I've been to nine Georgia-Florida games in Jacksonville.* Most of them were in my college years and shortly after, when sentences like "The cases of Stroh's are on sale, let's get a couple of those" sounded like the essence of truth and beauty.**

*There was an 10th game... 1995, at Sanford Stadium, when the Gator Bowl was under a two-year renovation and the teams played home-and-home. That was the year Steve Spurrier, up 45-17 with 5 minutes left, called a flea-flicker for a touchdown because no one had ever scored 50 on Georgia in Athens. I don't exactly weep for Spurrier when we break South Carolina's hearts every year.

**Near where we lived our senior year, there were two liquor stores across the street from each other. One had a sign that said WORLD'S COLDEST BEER. The other had a sign that said, simply, COLDER BEER. This was a philosophical conundrum along the lines of whether God could make a rock so big that he couldn't lift it. We often debated these things over extremely cold beers.

I wanted to talk about all the things that make Georgia-Florida special -- the neutral site, the 50-50 ticket split, the way the stadium is laid out in quarters (Georgia-Florida-Georgia-Florida), how a big play causes exactly half the crowd to go nuts while the other half sits there in stony silence.

But maybe the best way to talk about it is just to make a list.

At the Georgia-Florida game, I head-butted a fellow Dawg fan so hard we both fell down.

At the Georgia-Florida game, I slept in my roommate's Camaro until a security guard woke us up at sunrise.

At the Georgia-Florida game, I heard my dad say the first and only cuss word I ever heard from him. (This was at our house before the game... he looked to make sure my mom wasn't around, then said he had seen a car with a sign that said "(BLEEP) FLORIDA." Then he smiled.)

At the Georgia-Florida game, I saw a teenage girl with an arm like John Elway pelt Florida fans with wet rolls of toilet paper. I can only hope it was water.

At the Georgia-Florida game, I dragged a rubber gator from the back bumper of my car until the legs were scraped off. I assume that today I would be pulled over by PETA and caned.

At the Georgia-Florida game, I got my car keyed.

At the Georgia-Florida game, I jumped out and moved a police barricade so I could drive through, leading to the first time I ever thought I might get arrested. (OK, maybe the second.)

At the Georgia-Florida game, after a big win, I high-fived a Jacksonville cop who was directing traffic with a giant victory cigar jammed in his jaw.

At the Georgia-Florida game, I saw Ric Flair strut down the aisle in a Gator sweater with a gorgeous blonde by his side. (I think that was a couple of gorgeous blondes ago.)

At the Georgia-Florida game, I slept eight to a hotel room with guys who smelled like sweat, Wild Turkey, and creamed peas from Beach Road Chicken.*

*We LOVED Beach Road Chicken. Ate there every year the night before the game. I'm pretty sure it's gone now.

At the Georgia-Florida game, the only one they didn't boo was Herschel, and the only one we didn't boo was Emmitt.

At the Georgia-Florida game, I said some things I would now like to retract. We didn't even know Galen Hall's mama.

At the Georgia-Florida game, we would go down to the Georgia tunnel just before the teams came out, and we would pound the canvas over the tunnel as hard as we could with both hands, like insane bongo players, and then the players would gather in the tunnel and some would take their helmets off and bang the canvas from the inside, and feeling that sudden hard plastic thump under our hands was like a creature coming to life, one that we had created with our own hands and were about to set loose on the world.

At the Georgia-Florida game, after we beat the Gators the first week they had ever been ranked no. 1, I went down on the field and clawed up a handful of Gator Bowl turf. I kept it until it was nothing but brown shreds and dust. It got tossed out in a move. I wish I still had it.

-- Tommy Tomlinson


Anonymous said...

The Georgia - Florida game is the most over-hyped game in college sports...

This game lost its meaning as soon as Spurrier took over Florida...
All the dawgs do is LOSE...

And Mark Richt needs that Bible if he expects the dawgs to win...maybe FSU is a good place to go coach next...

Anonymous said...

At the Florida-Georgia I've had drunk Dawg fans bark in my face...and I haven't been to the game since I was 7. Hate to see how Dawg fans raise their young!!

Observer Sports said...

It's a series of streaks... we went 13-3 in the '80s/early '90s, FLA is on a 16-3 streak now. I don't think we're gonna win this year. But it's about time for the worm to turn.

And Anon 12:29... I had no idea Gator parents did such a good job of raising their young. Makes sense if you think about it, though -- Florida is well-known as such a polite, law-abiding place...

-- Tommy T.