A newcomer’s guide to Georgia-Florida week

Published 5:52 pm Friday, October 30, 2015

If you have just arrived in our fair state from some alien environment like the planet Krutopia or maybe Vermont, I need to explain to you a cataclysmic event taking place on this Saturday afternoon in the city of Jacksonville, Florida, which is a suburb of Greater Metropolitan Brunswick, Georgia, much like Vermont is a suburb of Canada.

The event is the annual scrum between a group of scholar-athletes from the University of Georgia, the oldest state-chartered university in the nation, located in Athens, the Classic City of the South, and a group from the University of Florida, whose claim to fame is that their mascots, Albert and Alberta, look like walking chenille bedspreads.

Some people will tell you that Jacksonville is a neutral site for the game. These same people would probably consider North Korea a great place to host the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Frankly, I’m surprised that our young men can find the time to squeeze in a trip this weekend. What with chemistry labs, efforts to eradicate the spotted wing drosophila and comparative literature seminars, we don’ have a lot of time for games. We are first and foremost an academic institution. As most everyone on the planet Krutopia knows, the University of Georgia can lay claim to 23 Rhodes Scholars. The University of Florida? 12. But, hey, who’s counting?

Nonetheless, our scholar-athletes feel obligated to appear in the Brunswick suburb of Jacksonville or otherwise risk disappointing a large number of people who have been gathered around their RVs in the stadium parking lots since August, drinking adult beverages, barking and choking toy alligators or waving their arms stiffly and choking toy dogs. This doesn’t count the thousands of college students who will party all weekend on St. Simons Island but will miss the game because they fell asleep on the beach where they will remain until Tuesday.

For those of you from Vermont, about the only thing I can think to compare this weekend with would be your Maple Syrup Festival or the annual Bread Loaf Mountain Writers Conference at Middlebury College. It is that big.

The Georgia-Florida game is referred to as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” That is because it is. There was an effort a few years back to get rid of that sobriquet at the urging of then-UGA President Michael Adams, who wouldn’t know a good party if you gave him a barbecued chicken wing and a cold beer. Fortunately, nobody seemed to care what he thought. The last I checked, Michael Adams has departed for Malibu U., aka Pepperdine University, where they don’t have a football team and their idea of a cocktail party is piña coladas and polite conversation.

From all I know about Vermont and Krutopia, football is not a big deal at either place. The University of Vermont just has a club football team. So did my college fraternity. Plus, I don’t think they are big on outdoor cocktail parties in Vermont. Mike Adams would love Vermont.

As for Krutopia, their biggest sport is looking for sightings of our Ambassador to Outer Space, Cynthia McKinney, whose mouth orbits the solar system at super luminal velocity.

But football is very big around here, particularly this week. The upcoming contest in neutral (wink wink) Jacksonville will decide the championship of South Georgia and North Florida and the loser will have to endure a lot of yang-yang until next year.

To date, the University of Georgia’s scholar-athletes have prevailed 51 times to Florida’s 41. There have been two ties. Florida claims the record to be 50-41-2. They don’t count the game in 1904 because they say their first officially-recognized football team didn’t start play until 1906. Well, bless their hearts. Maybe we just won’t count those games when Steve Spurrier was Florida’s coach because he wasn’t a very nice person. Fair is fair.

One last thing: If a stranger comes up to you on the street this week and says “How ’bout them Dawgs?”, don’t try and correct their grammar or ask them to what dogs might they be referring. After all, this is Georgia-Florida week. Just smile and say, “Run, Lindsey, run!” That answer will earn you an adult beverage and get you treated like momma’s favorite cousin.

I trust you have found this tutorial helpful. Now, if you will excuse me, it’s is time to start the party. It’s Georgia-Florida Week! The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party! Time to let the Big Dawg eat! Go Dawgs! Woof! Woof!