Saturday, October 29, 2005

It's Florida-Georgia Weekend!

Jacksonville may be an NFL city now but it's college football that still reigns supreme, especially when it comes to the Florida-Georgia game.

If you are a Gator fan it is the Florida-Georgia game; a "Dawg," the Georgia-Florida game. Sportscasters simply refer to it as "The World's Biggest Outdoor Cocktail Party."

The teams come to Jacksonville, historically the neutral site required for the decades-old classic, because neither team nor its fans can agree on anything including how many years they've played each other.

As the game approaches, the populace is no longer demographically black or white, male or female but clearly divided between the orange and blue of the Florida Gators (or "The Gators" and anyone rooting against Georgia) and the red and black of the Georgia Bulldogs (or "Dawgs," "The Dawgs," "The Junkyard Dawgs," and everyone rooting against Florida).

Beginning days ahead of each game when the recreational vehicles begin to surround the Gator Bowl (Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, rebuilt for Jacksonville Jaguars and renamed Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, then re-renamed Alltel Stadium — but no one calls it that today) and lasting until Sunday, the day after the game, college football further cements its importance.

This year's game, last year's game, the game 25 or 40 years ago. That's all anyone talks about, fights about, and brags or cries about. People and vehicles of all shapes and sizes are festooned in team colors. Hotels, restaurants, and stores are filled with people who speak only to two phrases: "Go Gators! Beat them Dawgs!" or "Go Dawgs! Beat them Gators!"

By Saturday night when the game is over, one team will double their vocabulary by adding, "Wait 'til next year!"

On Sunday morning, fans awake from a night celebrating a win and as important, a year's worth of bragging rights; or a night spent drowning their sorrows because not only did their team lose, they have a year ahead of the other team's brutal bragging to endure.

And then all the visitors leave for home to make plans for their return next year.

A few years ago Hubby's Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Shirley, both in their 70s, visited from upstate New York. Their arrival coincided with Florida-Georgia weekend. For four days they were confronted with, and more and more lost and confused by, an entire city gone mad yelling only "Go Gators!" or "Go Dawgs!"

So Hubby and I bought each of them a Gator T-shirt.

Their eyes glazed. They walked tall and strong. Their entire vocabulary shortened to only two words, "Go Gators!"

No longer were they mere visitors. They had discovered what we found years before: in the world of football whether college or pro, there is nothing like Northeast Florida and Florida-Georgia.

Oops. Gotta go. Game's coming on . . .



Florida Gators 14
Georgia Bulldogs 10


Anonymous Dave the wave said...

Go Gators! I've been reading blogs for awhile. Just recently started looking for a Jax blog. Am so glad I found ya. Go Gators!

5:19 PM  
Anonymous William Oliver said...

Oh well. There's always next season. We Dawgs just felt sorry for the problems y'all been having, and figured you could use a little pick me up, you see...


6:52 PM  
Blogger doyle said...

Welcome to ACC, Dave. Lotsa J-ville bloggers around. Feel free to ransack the list of Florida Bloggers in my sidebar.

Billo, you and I need to talk. Seriously. Like maybe it's the DAWGS that are once again saying, "Wait 'til next year."?

I do mean that kindly, as I'm sure you know. I well remember when the Gators went winless for an entire season.

But I mean . . . really. What is it? Fourteen out of the last sixteen years that the Gators have won?

But please. Let us put our differences away.

Some of my best friends are "Dawgs." Best neighbors, too.

Despite our differences, we've ALWAYS able to join together when it comes to dissing . . .


9:08 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Georgia Tech beat Clemson, and Georgia lost.

If I hadn't been sick, my weekend would have been perfect.

10:58 AM  

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