One of the best perks to being a Florida Gator is participating in the many traditions the Gator Nation has to offer. Numerous avid Gator fans will tell you the students, not the Bullgators, are the heart and foundation of some of these traditions. Well, the UF Student Government proved just this a few years ago. Football in the south is arguably the best in the nation. While we don’t like to admit it, we do cooperate with those ugly Dawgs here and there.
Three years ago, the UF and UGA student governments brainstormed ideas and created a new tradition: a rivalry trophy called the Okefenokee Oar. While working with both universities’ athletic associations, two of the NCAA’s biggest rivals found a common ground that could enhance an already heated rivalry between the teams, students, alumni and other sports fanatics.
Although Georgia is ahead in the overall record, this rivalry has clearly been dominated by Florida in the past 22 years. Prior to this weekends’ loss, the Gators were 18-3 against the Bulldogs. If any time of the year is a good one to be superstitious, I would say it’s right now: Halloween. The common phrase, “third time’s a charm,” always comes up when I think I got lucky. Unfortunately, it was a charm in favor of the Georgia Bulldogs this year, as they took control in the 3rd quarter and didn’t look back. Georgia defeated Florida 24-20 and left Gator fans in shock after the game seemed to be ours earlier that afternoon.
So this year, the Bulldogs actually pulled off a win and bragging rights. However, they also have a year-long possession of the Okefenokee Oar. The Oar is ten-feet long and has already been recognized as one of the most impressive trophies in college football, according to the press release sent out by UF Student Government.
The Oar was named after the Okefenokee Swamp, which is a region shared by Florida and Georgia. Both states claimed this “Land of the Trembling Earth” as their own. After a long history of land disputes, settlers traveled into the swamp and navigated the St. Mary’s river to establish the border separating Florida from Georgia. Many fans don’t know this history and significance of the game. It is a battle reminiscent of the struggle the land many years ago. The trophy, carved from a 1000-year-old cypress tree from the Okefenokee Swamp, symbolizes the persistence and motivation the settlers used to make it through the perilous waters.
Well, there’s a little history about the rivalry between two teams that met for the 89th time on Saturday, October 29th. After losing four conference games straight, I still support my team. You better believe I was in that stadium for the full four quarters. I didn’t leave very happy, but I did make the best of it. I somehow exited EverBank Field with all of the Georgia fans and ended up participating in their post-victory celebration.
Hey, I can say Georgia fans are a lot nicer after they beat Florida. They even recruited me to do the “dougie” with them… If you don’t know what that is, you probably don’t want to. But if you are really curious, type in “Teach Me How To Dougie” on YouTube because I don’t know if I am the best person to demonstrate that special Dawg dance. Witnessing 50 UGA fans grinding to this terrible song was almost as painful as the the infamous 2007 “celebration” in Florida’s endzone. Those two memories are ones that must be left in the past.
Until next year… Stay classy, Georgia.