Steve Spurrier. Is there any one man the Bulldog Nation loves to hate more than the Old Ball Coach? After all, he certainly gave Dawg fans enough fits during his tenure at the University of Florida, going 11-1 against Georgia with the Gators.
Admittedly, some of the bitterness toward Spurrier had dissipated after his brief tenure in the NFL and subsequent return to the SEC with South Carolina. In fact, Georgia finally enjoyed some success against its coaching nemesis, going 4-1 against the Gamecocks in Spurrier’s first five seasons in Columbia.
But after two straight losses to the Gamecocks, plus an offseason pot shot about Georgia’s suspensions, Dawg fans are beginning to feel that old familiar hate rising up again, this time with Spurrier on the South Carolina sideline.
Combine all this with the fact that South Carolina has become competitive in the SEC, winning the East for the first time in school history in 2010, and one can see the storm brewing. What had previously been a border state, division rivalry is looking like it has the potential to morph into a bitter, fierce rivalry between the Cocks and the Dawgs.
And why not?
Georgia fans already despise Spurrier. Columbia is closer to Athens than any other SEC campus. And, for two years in a row, South Carolina and Georgia have been the favorites to compete for the SEC East crown.
For the icing on the cake, this year’s contest moves from the September SEC opener for both teams to October, where both teams could, and probably should, come into the game 5-0 and will have a few conference games under their belts.
Granted, Georgia already has its fair share of bitter rivals. There’s no doubt that Florida will be back to form soon and there’s still no love lost there for the UGA faithful. There’s still Tennessee and Auburn and Georgia Tech.
But there’s always room for one more week of pure, all-in-good-fun hatred, right?
However, unlike Georgia’s first rivalry with a Spurrier-led team, this rivalry actually promises to be competitive.
Despite a 2011 victory over a lackluster Gator squad, Florida has absolutely owned Georgia for the past few decades, which Spurrier played no small part in. South Carolina and Georgia, on the other hand, have had some epic battles following Spurrier’s arrival in Columbia in 2005.
In Spurrier’s seven games against Georgia with South Carolina, five have been decided by a touchdown or less, with the teams splitting the other two games. The Bulldogs have gone 4-3 against the Gamecocks so far in the Spurrier Era, but South Carolina has won two straight headed into 2012.
Sure, many Georgia fans have personal reasons to favor one particular rivalry game over another, but I dare say there will be a lot of calendars in the Bulldog Nation with October 6 circled this season.