We say, "the Georgia Puppies up North." They say, "the Alliga-turds down South." We as college football fans debate quite often who are our biggest rivals. Well, from this Gator fan, I would say, it's the Georgia Bulldogs.
FSU has played itself into irrelevance. Gaining Greg Reid and losing Preston Parker still makes them irrelevant.
Tennessee and Lane Kiffin are slowly approaching.
But for now, Dawg fans, the disdain for you is still immeasurable.
To have the Dawgs start 2008-2009 as the preseason No. 1 and their eventual fall from grace was poetic. The story that evolved right before Gator fans' eyes was better than any story depicted in this decade.
And then, to add the best icing that has ever been created, the Gators embarrass the Dawgs in Jacksonville, win the SEC East, go on to take the SEC Championship right out of Saban's hands in the fourth quarter, and win their second National Championship in two years.
Make no mistake, the rivalry is heated. We are referred to as the "Jort-Wearing Gators Down South," the Crocodiles," and the list goes on. If it was not heated enough, Mark Richt and his Dawgs made it more heated.
I don't care about the record 16-19 losses in that time span. When they jumped around in the end zone like they owned it, and then beat us in every phase of the game, our hate for each other reached an all-time high. The fact is, they beat us and embarrassed us.
There had to be a plan to pay them back. This is college football, but it's all Gator fans thought about. There were other big rivalry wins early against Miami and LSU, but nothing mattered more than the Georgia-Florida game on Nov. 1.
We bought T-shirts that read, "That Dawg Bandwagon is so full, but wait 'til November 1st, and there will be plenty of room!"
We beat them soundly. In every phase of the game. We forced four turnovers, intercepting Matthew Stafford's powerful arm three times. We forced a fumble from their Herschel Walker wannabe. We made their defense argue with each other as Percy Harvin was in the end zone alone for a touchdown.
And with the game in hand, we called timeout so that Emmanuel Moody could have some more time to gain useless yardage.
We hate each other so much we can't exist in the same stadium together. Subsequently, Dawg fans left early.
We left Dawg fans with one argument—Stafford is better than Tim Tebow and will have a better NFL career. Well, Dawg fans, you can have that one. Your prized possession left town without giving you squat. No SEC Championship, no signature win, and only one BCS win. I think I will take Tebow over Stafford.
The bi-product of being a huge college fan and being so passionate is that we look for our team and its players to succeed. We in Gator Nation feel that that was accomplished in both 2006 and 2008. Dawg fans, take your pick.
You Dawgs were left to debate whether Willie Martinez should go, and you were left to debate whether Knowshon Moreno and Stafford would leave for the NFL, whether Rodney Garner was going to Auburn and then Tennessee. You were left to watch the plane at the airport and see if Garner would get on it, for God's sake.
All the while, we were game planning and plotting our tailgating efforts in Miami.
In the end, you were left to gather together and watch the championship game and cheer against us. No SEC loyalty here. I agree—I was a Michigan State fan for a day, too.
Yes, this rivalry is heated. We hate each other. We throw stuffed dogs and alligators out in the middle of traffic before the game and evoke the biggest cheers. We sell T-shirts saying. "Tebow was Te-bone" and "We don't know Knowshon and we do know S**t."
If you ask a Dawg fan right now, they would probably say, Mark Richt is a better coach. I say, he better get over the 10-3 hump and show more emotions on the sideline. He better get control of that penalty-laden team that led the conference in yellow flags. He better get rid of CWM before the season starts, or there will be a new website looking to 'Free Willy.'"
So while others around the country are debating Michigan-Ohio State or USC-UCLA, I say, we have some good ole down-home hate cooking here.
We can't wait for the season to start again. We can't wait for Jacksonville and the invasion of red and black and the God awful bark that you hear from men, women, and children. We can't wait to hear that "Gator Bait" chant that is as country as two brown eggs. We can't wait to wear our National Championship gear.
We will never support each other, SEC or not. We will never like each other, no matter who has the edge in winning. If you ask a Dawg fan right now, they will say, "we lead in the win column collectively."
I say, who remembers or cares about that far back? We have beaten the Dawgs more than anyone else in the country in the past 20 years.
We are programs headed in two different directions. The Bulldogs are trying to recover, while the Gators are reloading.
It seems Joe Cox has a little more personality. Well, good luck—your team will need it since your defense lost its persona as the toughest in the SEC, and your coach doesn't have one.