This has always been my favorite Georgia football game.
That’s because our little neck of the woods here in the Golden Isles becomes a hangout spot for Bulldog Nation in the days leading up to the Border War between the Bulldogs and Gators down in Jacksonville.
Me, I had the opportunity to attend the game several times as a youngster growing up in the area and just remember how excited I was for Game Day to get here the week of the game.
That would have been in the 1980s when I really didn’t know what it was like losing to Florida down there. Vince Dooley and the boys treated me to victories back in those days.
When I got to high school at the old Brunswick High, I know we used to dress in our Georgia gear the Friday before the game that Saturday. There were a few Gator fans who walked the hallways with us Bulldawgs, but not many.
Back then, two teachers – Harry Kelly, a Florida man and English teacher, and Senor Jones, a Georgia guy and a Spanish instructor – used to have a friendly rivalry during Georgia-Florida week as their rooms were across the hallway from each other and they decorated them in the colors of the Gators and the Bulldogs.
They got the whole school stirred up in the days leading up to the game down in J’ville. On that end of the far hallway closest to the old BHS gym, Kelly was Gator chomping outside his classroom door and we woofed, woofed, woofed, when we walked by his room.
Then, when I went off college at UGA, it was always fun to come home and party with the Dogs over on St. Simons Island.
My freshman year, I came home on Wednesday. The next day, I remember Magic Johnson announced he had the HIV virus. And two days later, of course, the sixth-ranked Gators chomped the No. 23-ranked Bulldogs into tiny pieces, 45-13.
That just so happened to be Steve Spurrier’s second consecutive win over the Bulldogs as Florida’s head coach. If you know the series, you know he would go on to dominate Georgia for the rest of the 1990s and on into the 2000s.
Yeah, thanks to the Evil Genius, I didn’t experience a victory over the Gators as a UGA undergrad. All I got to do was sit through a crazy cold game in 1991, a narrow defeat in 1992, the driving rain in the 1993 Mud Bowl and the stomping in the Swamp in 1994 when the series had to be moved to the two campuses so the old Gator Bowl could be renovated for its new NFL franchise.
And yeah, the 1995 game in Athens was similar to that game in 1994 as Spurrier made sure to hang 50-plus – 52 to be exact – on the Dogs between the hedges.
That day, my date to the game twisted her ankle on the walk in. I had to take her back to the house. Her mother came from a nearby town to take her for X-rays to make sure it wasn’t broken. She was there when I returned from the game, and I think she was mad that I left her daughter hanging and went to the game.
The next day on that drive back home, I got a speeding ticket in Adrian, Ga., from a really nice state trooper who apparently wasn’t a Georgia fan and didn’t understand that I would appreciate it if he would let me slide this time as it had been kind of a rough weekend and I was just anxious to get back to Brunswick.
But hey, all was not lost. The Atlanta Braves did beat the Cleveland Indians that Saturday night to win the 1995 World Series.
Anyway, back home in the Golden Isles from that fall of 1995 until the present, I covered the game and all of the related festivities here in Glynn County, for many, many years. I’ve always just enjoyed the fact that the Georgia people came here for the game and we didn’t have to make the long drive north to mingle with the Red and Black like is usually the case.
We host this show, along with the city of Jacksonville, and they come see us for a change.
For years, the party has been at places like Brogen’s on St. Simons Island before and after the game.
And now for several years already, it has been on our SSI beaches where the annual Frat Beach get-together on Friday has become its own sometimes-out-of-control phenomenon.
Then, there has always been the Georgia-Florida Golf Classic on Jekyll Island which has been a big-time affair on the Thursday and Friday before the game. Guys like Johnny Paulk, the longtime golf pro on Jekyll, and Frank Inman, an old Georgia assistant coach, were responsible for getting that going.
And of course, people have taken buses from here to Jacksonville for years. You may have seen them picking up the folks in the Winn Dixie parking lot on St. Simons Island or Lanier Plaza on the mainland.
Well, it’s Georgia-Florida week again here in the Golden Isles, and so many yearly traditions will be renewed once again.
The actual game down in Jacksonville on Saturday has major implications, too.
All together, it should make for a fun week down here in this section of the Bulldog Nation.
Stay safe, and enjoy.
And, Go Dawgs!!!!