It’s Georgia-Florida week, so it’s time to trot out an array of unprovable assertions. Step on down, Jeff Schultz:
The numbers are dizzying: three consecutive losses, 11 of 13, 18 of 21.Schultz presents a binary proposition: Georgia’s lack of success in Jacksonville can either be the result of talent or mental strength. It can’t be a combination of the two. More importantly, it can’t be primarily the result of a totally obvious, more likely explanation: for the most part, Florida have had better teams! Maybe Georgia players, instead of getting PTSD the moment they cross the border into Florida, are up against superior opponets? Whether that is the result of Florida having better players, better coaches, or a combination thereof, is a matter for debate. Again, it’s probably a mix.
Vince Dooley went 17-7-1. His 25-game winning percentage: .700. Since then, Ray Goff (1-6), Donnan (1-4) and Richt (2-8) have gone 4-18. Their 22-game percentage: .182.
How can players and coaches not think of that history, even if they weren’t here for most of it?Some players weren’t even born yet. Murray? He actually was born Nov. 10, 1990 — the day Steve Spurrier’s Gators tortured Goff’s Dogs, 38-7. That’s when this 21-game stretch started. So it’s all Murray’s fault.
When one signature program loses 18 of 21 games to another, it’s not just about talent. At some point, it’s between the ears.
Georgia’s starting quarterbacks in the past three meetings have thrown nine interceptions. Florida’s, one. The Dogs have committed 12 turnovers. Florida, one.
That not about athleticism. That’s one team being calm and the other having a meltdown.
So, Jeff, let’s test my little hypothesis since I'm operating in the world of facts and you are in the ether. Let’s look at CollegeFootballReference.com to see every year since 1990 in which Georgia has either finished with a better SEC record than Florida (excluding the Cocktail Party) or had a better SRS rating. Here is the complete list:
In contrast, Georgia had an inferior record and SRS rating in 1997 and had the same record (excluding the Cocktail Party) and an inferior SRS rating in 2007. So really, Georgia fans can point to all of three games over a 21-year period where they had a better team and should have beaten Florida, but didn’t: 1992 (although in retrospect, Spurrier versus Goff was a huge equalizer), and the two Zook disasters in 2002 and 2003. Georgia was better overall in 2005, but not without DJ Shockley. Florida fans can point to 1997 and 2007 as years in which their teams were at least comparable, if not marginally better than Georgia and they lost both games. (A simple question for Georgia fans: how much of your fond memories of the strengths of the ‘97 and ‘07 teams are bound up in the wins in Jacksonville? After the Florida game, the ‘97 team was solidly beaten at home by Auburn and then required a last-second touchdown to beat Georgia Tech. The ‘07 team came on like gangbusters at the end of the season, but was mediocre for the first six games.) So Georgia should be, what, 5-16 against Florida since 1990? 6-15, maybe? Would we all feel better about the game is that was the tally instead of 3-18?
Since 1990, Florida has finished first in the SEC nine times. They have won the East ten times, or slightly more than 50% of all available titles. They have played in 11 major bowl games. They have three national titles. In the same time period, Georgia has won two SEC titles, three divisional titles, and no national titles. Georgia has played in three major bowl games. Schultz’s mistake is starting from the premise that Florida and Georgia are both “signature programs,” implying some sort of equality. Georgia has the potential to be equal to Florida, especially if Florida State and Miami pose credible recruiting threats to the Gators in-state, but that potential has not been realized over the past 21 years. That, more than some imaginary mental block, is the reason why Georgia has struggled in Jacksonville.
The good news, then, is that Georgia is a better team than Florida in 2011 (Georgia is almost five points better in SRS and about 5.5 points better according to the Sagarin Predictor) and the margin isn’t close if Jeff Brantley is either out or limited. If Georgia loses this year, then we may have to examine what’s going on upstairs with this team, as probability is pointing in the Dawgs' favor.**
* – Here’s the title reference for those of you who aren’t married to psychologists who interned at Penn.
** - Come to think of it, the most precise way to determine what Georgia's record should have been against Florida over the past 21 years would be to come up with retroactive point spreads using SRS (and Sagarin for the years for which it is available) and then assign percentages to the games.