Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ah, the Weekend - My First Georgia Florida Game

All the sun in the world.
As a Freshman at Georgia, all you ever hear about Georgia-Florida week is "when will your tests be that week?" At least that is the way it used to be. With any luck, your professors would cancel classes on Friday and not schedule any tests or papers after Tuesday. That way, you could hit Wednesday classes, if you cared about things such as that, then ease on down the road. I ended up with the dreaded Thursday afternoon test. Didn't matter, I was staying at my parents in SE Georgia, then going to the game on Saturday and spending Saturday night down there. I hit highway 15 southbound and down about 5:30 with a Guthrie's box (extra fries, no slaw, thank you) and a sweet tea. It seemed like I was the last one out of Tombstone.

I had prior opportunities to go to Georgia Florida, but had passed them up to either work or participate in extra-curricular activities. I was on a roof in '85, putting shingles on a house my folks had bought for my grandfather to live in. In '84, I was on the way down when someone got sick on a team for a competition, so I subbed. Earlier games were similar, with the exception of the '80 game, which my father went to with work friends. Being older and wiser, I now know that he wanted to cut the fool with his buddies without a 12 year old around. I totally respect that.

So, it is 1986, I arrive and see the majesty that is the Gator Bowl for the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. What a sight: red and black seated section by section next to orange and blue. The stadium seemed organic, alive, a being itself. The huge scaffold stands echoing and swaying underneath and above with 82K plus drunks. I loved it!

The Gators had won three in a row that season to get back to 4-4 coming into the game. The Dawgs had looked pretty good, putting together a 6-2 record, with the losses coming to eventual ACC Champ Clemson by three on a last second FG and to eventual SEC Champ LSU in the Bayou. This seemed like a pretty easy win, by all rights. The Gator's star receiver had injured his shoulder and would probably not play much. Kerwin Bell looked fabulous at times, but was much better known for his 80's porn 'stache at this point in the season.

Can I show you a car?

Regretfully, Rickey Nattiel only needed one hand to catch three touchdown passes. Literally, he one handed three different TD passes. Gators won 31-19.

So that began my love affair with this game. Oh, I definitely had a crush on it before 1986, but once I experienced it, I couldn't look back. Glad it will stay in Jacksonville in the future.

So today, let's not, as PWD puts it, nut up over crossing into the Jacksonville city limits and go put it on the Gators.


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