Thursday, November 4, 2010

On Arrogance and Sanctimony

The consensus among Georgia fans in the wake of Florida’s latest win is that Gator fans have risen (sunken?) to new heights (or depths) of arrogance. Moreover, accusations of sanctimony are running rampant.

The latest seems mostly to involve “choke-gate”, in which Georgia assistant Todd Grantham apparently called out to Chas Henry to “choke” while grabbing his throat. This has led to accusations of “classlessness”.

Apparently in SEC football, being called “classless” is the ultimate in insults – the veritable nuclear bomb of word exchange. Just to be clear, we are taking about who has the greatest “class” in an activity in which thousands of people drink copious amounts of alcohol, stand shoulder to shoulder in gaudily colored gear while screaming insanely at the activities of a group of late teens / early twenties who are trying to knock each others heads off.

Fun? Absolutely. Classy? Well….

I’m not sure what Georgia fans expect here. If I offer a “good game” comment, I’m being sanctimonious. If I celebrate, I’m arrogant. Silence?

As for me, I could care less about choke-gate. Donning my pop-psychiatrist hat, I tend to think that great anger about these matters is mostly a case of “projection”. I was very angry about the infamous “celebration”, but upon reflection what I was really angry about was losing the game. I was especially angry that our team failed to respond to such “classless” provocation.

In regard to arrogance, I’m a product of the Gator programs of the 1980’s. My first year in college was 1984, and my final year (law school) 1991. During that time the Gators went 4-4 against the Dawgs (I caught the first 2 years of the Spurrier era).

What did I see during that time? I saw endless references to the 1980 game and “Buck Belue to Lindsay Scott”, including one time when the sole display at the 1991 SEC Championship game by the University of Georiga was a video loop showing this play over and over again (to the laughing taunts of 2 undergrads). I was reminded, seemingly without end, that the Dawgs had an unsurpassable lead in the series, whether they won or lost the particular game at hand. I watched the gloating and taunting of Georgia fans in 1985 when they knocked Florida from it’s first ever AP number 1 ranking after one week. I saw the great Emmitt Smith weep when, in 1989, he realized he would end his career winless against Georgia, and listened to Georgia fans mock him for it. After one loss, I had a female Georgia fan dump a full beer on me at the Landing then dare me to do something to her about it because she was a “lady”.

During those years I probably gave as good as I got (and to the one guy who in 1990 who confronted me in a bathroom and taunted me with “what’s the overall series record?”, and to which I responded “Yes, that’s true, but what if you never win again?” – I’ve only been off by 3 games since then. Don’t feel so cocky now, do you?).

Not to mention, since the series has turned in our favor, Gator fans have been treated to an endless litany of comments about “jean shorts” and “mullet cuts”. I guess such things are thought to personify lack of class, but is being “classy” defined as drunkenly taunting every fan in orange & blue with “Where’s your jorts, Gator?” Some new material might be in order (I saw several Gator fans dressed in cut-off jeans and mullet wigs for Halloween – we pretty much think its funny now too). But I guess that if that's all you've got, you go with it.

If we as Gator fans are arrogant, we learned it from our former Bulldog masters. At the end of my college career, Georgia had a 43-24-2 lead in the series (1991). They had two “national titles” (1942, 1980), and 9 SEC titles. Florida, on the other hand, had just won its first recognized SEC title, and had no recognized national titles.

Twenty seasons later, the series is 46-40-2. Florida has 8 SEC titles total to Georgia’s 11. And, looming largely, are the 3 “national titles” Florida has won.

Moreover, here was Georgia and Florida football overall records as of 1991 (from SEC founding in 1933) –

Georgia: Record of 407-215-27 (0.6479), 13th among NCAA schools
Florida: Record of 340-255-23 (0.5688), 37th among NCAA schools

And as of 2009’s end -

Georgia: Record of 564-279-28 (0.6636), 12th among NCAA schools
Florida: Record of 523-303-24 (0.6294), 17th among NCAA schools

To me, it’s pretty clear what the Georgia fan’s anger is – we’ve become you.

And I think I get that. If Kentucky, who Florida has beaten 24 consecutive times, wins 18 of the next 21 games, I’m going to be angry. I’m pretty sure that every utterance or celebration by Cat fans (I have several in my family) under these circumstances would piss me off.

As to who I should be pissed off at, well that is another matter.


Tom said...

Great article.

Anonymous said...

Mergz, you're a pleasure to read. Excellent analysis and summation.


JaxDawg said...

Georgia fan here - very good article. However I will tell you that the majority of GA fans are just as upset at our administration for not attacking our inability to win our fair share against FL as we are at the FL fans for being arrogant, entitled jerks. But I recognize that every fanbase has them but Spurrier's demeanor and attitude brought the FL arrogance to a new level. And you have to remember Mergz, the joke about FL pre-Spurrier was "all the arrogance of ND with the history of Vanderbilt".

The series will shift again as it always does. These two programs (and schools) are so similar in so many ways that this imbalance of the past 20 years will eventually end. I'm not suggesting that GA will dominate FL, but I believe that we will begin to get our share of the breaks and will win more than we have.

It's an excellent rivalry game - FL has had the upper hand for 20 years but I guarantee you that the GA fanbase will pressure McGarity to do something about it and that he most certainly will. With our without our insistence.


I have a similar sentiment regarding choke-gate as you do. I think the only issue that could be made is that the "choker" is supposed to be a respected leader of a football team and the "chokee" a young man that is supposed to respect that leadership. Good for Chas Henry for making that field goal and not responding in a negative way even though he admitted he heard the comments from the coach.

Mergz said...


You're right about the series - it will shift. In many ways Florida's dominance has been somewhat of a statistical fluke with so many games won by one score or less, that truly could have gone either way(this last game would be perfect example).

The real difference over the past 20 years has been the rise of Florida football, and by that I don't mean just UF. Prior to 1983 the Florida "big 3" had zero national titles. 27 years later they have 10, or more than 1 in 3 over that time. Notably the population of the state has tripled in that time period.

The most likely shift would seem to be to a 50-50 type situation. Honestly I've been expecting that for some time now.

JaxDawg said...

good point about the state of FL and football. Bryant said it, and then Dooley, who both hoped that this state would never get its act together.

And I don't think that GA will turn this series due solely to play. It will take Meyer leaving, or more importantly Foley, for a significant shift to occur. That, combined with UGA upgrading coaches (which I believe FL fans fear b/c they know we are capable of much more) would certainly reverse our fortunes.

Trader Rick said...

No matter how cleverly you spin it, Richt's Regime continues to display a degree of arrogant and blatant classlessness that defies logic and exposes them to the college football world as bullies and buffoons..

Choke-Gate IS a serious matter, and the Georgia Head Coach's off-hand dismissal of it is shameful and embarrassing to his program. It IS a big deal-- Is "SPORTSMANSHIP" dead? Apparently it is in Athens, as shown to us time and time again..

At least when Florida displayed its last big unsportsmanlike deal, Eye-Gouge gate, some semblance of responsibility was acknowledged and remedial action taken, however minimal, by both coach and player alike..

Nick Alajajian #58 said...

I've learned over time to never argue with an idiot. They only pull you down to their level and win every time. Such is the case with "Trader Rick".