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Florida vs. Georgia: The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party

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Georgia-Florida rivalry

Georgia and Florida have been battling each fall since 1914.

(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
They call it “The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party."

And as great as that nickname is, the on-the-field action of the Florida-Georgia rivalry has been even better.

For nearly a century, Bulldogs and Gators have been battling in one of the SEC’s most bitter rivalries. It is a series that has produced signature plays (“Run Lindsay Run!”), stretches of dominance by each school and, most recently, one of the most controversial “motivational tactics” any coach has ever dreamed up.

Series History

Florida and Georgia first met in 1914. Through the 2007 season, Georgia held a 46-37-2 advantage in the series.

The game is traditionally played at the neutral site of Jacksonville, Florida. Georgia and Florida first played there 1915 and have met in that city each year since 1933, with tickets split evenly between the two fan bases. Only in 1994 and 1995 was the game played on the schools’ campuses instead of the neutral site, an arrangement made necessary by construction at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.

Georgia fans have been known to complain about the actual “neutrality” of Jacksonville. And it’s hard to blame them.

Besides, while Jacksonville is only about an hour’s drive from Gainesville, home of the University of Florida, the city is nearly 350 miles from Georgia’s campus in Athens, Georgia.

Streaks of Dominance

The Florida-Georgia series is unique among rivalries in that each school has enjoyed lengthy stretches of dominance.

Through much of the 1970s and 1980s, Georgia was in control, at one time winning 15 of 20. But when coach Steve Spurrier, a Florida alum, took over as coach his alma mater in 1989, he immediately made beating Georgia his top priority—then he went out and did it. So, too, have his successors.

Since 1990, under the guidance of coaches Spurrier, Ron Zook and Urban Meyer, the Gators have won 15 of 18 in the rivalry, though coach Mark Richt's Georgia teams have won two of the last four.

Excessive Celebration

Richt added some fire to an already fiery rivalry in 2007, when he pulled a highly controversial stunt that drew the ire of both Florida fans and many commentators.

In a move he said was designed to give his squad an emotional edge in the game, Richt ordered his entire team—as in, every player on the Georgia sideline—out on to the field to celebrate the team’s first touchdown. The move cost Georgia a 15-yard excessive celebration penalty, but apparently worked precisely as Richt hoped it would. The Dawgs went on to upset Florida, 42-30.

In the months after the incident, Florida coach Urban Meyer would express his displeasure about Richt’s decision, writing in his book, “Urban’s Way,” that the celebration was “a bad deal.”

Meyer wrote: “That wasn't right. It was a bad deal. And it will forever be in the mind of Urban Meyer and in the mind of our football team. ... And it's going to be a big deal."

No More Cocktails?

Florida Times-Union sports columnist Bill Kastelz was the first to call the Georgia-Florida game, “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” That was back in the 1950s, soon after Kastelz, while covering the game, spotted a drunken tailgaiter offer a drink to a policeman.

The moniker stuck. Fans from both schools seized on it and television did, too.

In 2006, however, officials from Florida, Georgia and the Southeast Conference, fearing the name might promote overindulgence in alcohol, intervened and asked that CBS, along with other television networks, no longer use the “World’s Largest Cocktail Party” phrase. The campaign was led by Georgia President Michael Adams. As his spokesman told the Associated Press that year: "We don't like the phrase. We don't use the phrase. We would prefer that nobody use the phrase."

Greatest Moment

It is known simply as “Run, Lindsay, Run.”

In 1980, Georgia was ranked No. 2 in the country and seemingly en route to a national championship showdown in the Sugar Bowl. But they found themselves trailing Florida 21-20 late in the fourth quarter. The Dawgs were backed up to their own 8-yard line. Things looked bleak.

On 3rd and long, quarterback Buck Belue scrambled wildly before finding a wide-open Lindsay Scott. Scott turned and burned, and outran the Florida secondary for a shocking 92-yard touchdown to win the game.

Georgia radio announcer Larry Munson’s call of the play—“Run Lindsay!”—is not only considered one of the signature moments in Georgia football history, but is also one of the most well-known radio calls in all of college football.

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