cocktail party

The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party

Florida Georgia
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"The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" is a common name for the annual college football game between the University of Florida Gators and the University of Georgia Bulldogs, one of the great rivalries in college football; it is officially known as the "Florida-Georgia/Georgia-Florida Game" (switching every year). The game is held annually at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida, usually on the last Saturday in October. The designated home team alternates from year to year, with ticket distribution split evenly between the two schools. In past years, fans from Florida and Georgia were assigned seats grouped in alternating sections of the stadium, and the contrasting colors worn by the fans created a "beach ball" visual effect in the stands. Recently the seating arrangement has split the stadium lengthwise and fans sit on the side corresponding to the sideline their team occupies.

The game was first held in Jacksonville in 1915 in the teams' second meeting. The game has been held in Jacksonville every year since 1933, except for 1994 and 1995, when the contest was held on the respective schools' campus stadiums due to the rebuilding of Jacksonville Municipal Stadium for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.

While Jacksonville is technically a neutral site, it is located only 73 miles from Gainesville, home of the Gators. Athens, Georgia, home of the Bulldogs, is 342 miles to the north. The crowd in the stadium is generally split 50-50 between the two schools' fans. The majority of the tailgating takes place on the Jacksonville Landing, a riverfront plaza facing the St. Johns River. The Landing is packed with thousands of revelers each year, making it a great but crowded nightspot.

Following the 2007 contest, Georgia held a 46-37-2 advantage in the all-time series. However, Florida has gone 15-3 in the game since 1990 (Georgia winning in 1997, 2004 and 2007) to follow a similar 15-5 domination by Georgia through the 70s and 80s. There is a disagreement in regard to the overall series record. University of Florida records indicate the series record with Georgia stands at 46-37-2 in UGA’s favor. Georgia’s records indicate a 47-37-2 lead, which includes a 52-0 Bulldog win in a game played in Macon, Ga., in 1904. However, Florida did not field an official team until 1906.

Due to sensitivity about consumption of alcohol by college students, the game is no longer called "The World's Largest Cocktail Party," and is now officially known as the Florida-Georgia/Georgia-Florida game (depending on which team is the home team in a given year). Additionally, in May 2006, the Southeastern Conference asked the three networks which broadcast SEC football games not to use the moniker "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party," as it conveys a message regarding consumption of alcohol that the schools do not desire. Despite these efforts, 3 people have died in UF/UGA related partying downtown since the 2004 game.

Memorable games

As with most rivalries, there have been a number of close games over the years, often generating controversy and anguish over how the game ended for one of the teams involved. Like the series itself, most of the early memorable games favored the Bulldogs, with more recent ones favoring the Gators. Among the most memorable:

1966: Heisman curse?

The Gators entered the game 7-0 on the season and vying for their first ever SEC title. The Gators' quarterback, Steve Spurrier, had just locked up the Heisman trophy the previous week after a stellar performance vs Auburn and now had a chance to beat the Bulldogs for the first time in his playing career. But it was not to be. The outcome was never in doubt, as Spurrier threw three interceptions in a 27-10 Gator loss.

1970: The Rip, Strip, and Grip

All-American DE Jack Youngblood made a big difference pulling off one of the greatest plays in Florida history in a 24-17 Florida victory. With Georgia ahead 17-10, and the ball at the Gator two-yard line, Youngblood stood up Georgia back Ricky Lake short of the goal, forced a fumble and fell on the football. "They ran a lead play to my side, and I cut it off," Youngblood said "I'm standing there holding the ballcarrier and I take the ball away from him, and gave it back to our offense." John Reaves and Carlos Alvarez took it from there, connecting for two touchdown passes in the final 5:13 to rally the Florida Gators to victory.

1975: Appleby to Washington

Florida came into the game ranked #7 with a 6-1 record, while Georgia was 5-2 and ranked #19. The Gators' explosive offense was led by RB Tony Green, and he didn't disappoint as he ran for an early one yard touchdown to put the Gators ahead 7-0. Georgia was able to get on the board with a field goal, and the score was Florida 7, Georgia 3 as time was winding down in the fourth quarter. The "Junkyard Dawgs" defense was fantastic, as they allowed yards between the 20s but nothing in the red zone. The Bulldogs set up at their own 25 with 3:10 remaining, and Coach Vince Dooley did something he rarely did: He called a trick play. Richard Appleby took a reverse to the right, but instead of running it as he did earlier in the game, he threw it downfield to a wide open Gene Washington for an improbable 75 yard touchdown. The Gators' final field goal attempt never had a chance, as the snap was rolled to the holder. Georgia won 10-7.

1976: Fourth and Dumb

The #10 Gators were 6-1 and once again came into the Georgia game seeking to secure their elusive first SEC title. Florida jumped out to a 27-13 halftime advantage and seemed to have the game in hand until the Bulldogs scored early in the 3rd quarter to cut the lead to 27-20.

Then, faced with 4th and 1 at his own 29 yard line, Florida coach Doug Dickey decided to go for the first down. Gator running back Earl Carr was stopped short. The Bulldogs seized the momentum and never looked back: they would go on to score three touchdowns and roll to a 41-27 win.

1980: Run, Lindsay, Run

Losing to the underdog Gators with their perfect season and #2 ranking in jeopardy, the Bulldogs pulled off one of the most famous plays in college football history.

Georgia was down 21-20 with time running out, facing a 3rd and long from their own 8 yard line. After scrambling around in his own endzone, Bulldog quarterback Buck Belue found wide receiver Lindsay Scott open in the middle of the field near the Georgia 25-yard-line. Scott darted through Florida's secondary and outran everyone down the sideline, scoring the game-winning touchdown with only seconds left on the clock.

Long-time Georgia radio announcer Larry Munson's legendary call of the play (which still gives old fans of both schools the shivers, though for opposite reasons) gave the game its name:

Florida in a stand-up five, they may or may not blitz. Buck back, third down on the eight. In trouble, he got a block behind him. Gotta throw on the run. Complete to the 25. To the 30, Lindsay Scott 35, 40, Lindsay Scott 45, 50, 45, 40. …. Run Lindsay, 25, 20, 15, 10, Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott.

The improbable 26-21 victory kept alive Georgia's successful quest for a national title.

1984: Bell to Nattiel

After suffering many a heartbreaking defeat to the Bulldogs with a conference championship at stake, Florida again entered the contest undefeated in the SEC.

The Gators dominated early, building a 17-0 lead by early in the 2nd half. But the Bulldogs seemed to come alive in the 3rd quarter, mounting a long drive that reminded uneasy Florida fans of many infamous chokes against the 'Dawgs in the past. However, Georgia's drive died in the shadow of the Florida goal line when they were stuffed on 4th down, checking the Bulldogs momentarily but pinning Florida back deep in their own territory.

On the second play following the change of possession, Florida quarterback Kerwin Bell dropped back into his own end zone and lofted a long pass to streaking receiver Ricky Nattiel, who went 96 yards for a touchdown. The Bulldog momentum was snuffed out and the Gators went on to a convincing 27-0 victory, eventually completing an undefeated conference schedule for the first time in school history.

1985: A Return to Form

For the 2nd year in a row, the Gators entered the contest on a roll, coming off an emotional win at Auburn and ranked #1 in the nation for the first time ever.

However, this was not 1984 all over again. As they had done so many times in the past, the Bulldogs spoiled Florida's season, trouncing the Gators 24-3 behind the running of freshmen Keith Henderson and Tim Worley, who each rushed for well over 100 yards.

1993: The Timeout

The Gators led by a touchdown on a rainy day in Jacksonville, but Georgia mounted a late drive deep into Florida territory. Bulldog quarterback Eric Zeier completed what appeared to be the game-tying touchdown to Jerry Jerman with 5 seconds remaining. However, officials ruled that Florida cornerback Anthone Lott had called a timeout just before the ball was snapped, forcing the Bulldogs to play the down again. Lott was called for pass interference on the ensuing play, giving Georgia one last (untimed) chance to score. Zeier's final pass fell incomplete, and the Gators escaped with a 33-26 win.

1995: Half a Hundred Between the Hedges

With renovations to Jacksonville's old Gator Bowl Stadium underway, this traditional neutral-site showdown was held on the schools' campuses for the first time in over 60 years in 1994 and 1995. After winning big in Gainesville the previous season, the undefeated Gators hoped to repeat the feat in Athens against a struggling Bulldog team led by soon-to-be fired coach Ray Goff.

The Gators did win again in relatively easy fashion. However, the contest was made memorable by Florida's Steve Spurrier, who often sought retribution as the Gator head coach for the many frustrating defeats he'd suffered against Georgia as the Gator QB (see 1966 UF-UGA game).

The Gators led 45-17 with 5 minutes to go in the 4th quarter when Spurrier called a flea-flicker pass for a touchdown. After the game, Spurrier admitted that he had wanted to be the first opponent to hang "half a hundred" on the Bulldogs in their own stadium because "we heard no one had ever done that before. The record of 52 points scored on Georgia between the hedges still stands.

2002: Role Reversal

With the departure of Steve Spurrier from Florida to the NFL after the 2001 season, many Georgia fans were thrilled to see the "Ol' Ball Coach" go, as he had posted an 11-1 record against their Bulldogs during his tenure.

Georgia was a heavy favorite entering the contest with a perfect 8-0 record and a were ranked number 4 in the country. Florida, meanwhile, limped into the game at 5-3 and unranked for the first time in over a decade, struggling under new head coach Ron Zook. However, in a stunning reversal of many earlier upsets in the series, the Gators shocked the Bulldogs 20-13.

The loss was the only blemish on Georgia's record that season. Although they went on to win the SEC championship, the defeat at the hands of their hated rival cost the Bulldogs a shot to play for a national title.

2007: The Celebration

In a move that served to rally the underdog Bulldogs and add fuel to the rivalry, the 2007 game will be remembered for "The Celebration", in which the entire Georgia team left the sideline after their first touchdown. Although this did prove to pump the team up, Georgia was penalized with two personal fouls and was forced to kick off deep in their own field. Georgia coach Mark Richt admitted that he ordered his team to draw a personal foul after their first touchdown or they would be subject to extra conditioning drills. The celebration drew two personal foul penalties and threw the entire stadium into an uproar. The risky move paid off for Richt, whose team fed off the pre-planned shot in the arm and Knowshon Moreno's 188 yards rushing in a 42-30 victory. This game could also be known for big plays and a lot of points, as it was the first time in series history that both teams have ever scored 30 or more in the same game.

Florida-Georgia Game Hall of Fame Members (through 2007)

FLORIDA: Carlos Alvarez, Reidel Anthony, Kerwin Bell, Howell Boney, Joe Brodsky, Norm Carlson, Rick Casares, Wes Chandler, Chris Doering, Jimmy Dunn, Larry Dupree, Jeremy Foley, Don Gaffney, Ray Graves, Galen Hall, Ike Hilliard, Chuck Hunsinger, Doug Johnson, Charlie LaPradd, Buford Long, Shane Matthews, Lee McGriff, Ricky Nattiel, John Reaves, Errict Rhett, Steve Spurrier, Richard Trapp, Danny Wuerffel, Jack Youngblood.

GEORGIA: Richard Appleby, Buck Belue, Charley Britt, Kevin Butler, Wally Butts, Mike Cavan, Vince Dooley, Robert Edwards, Bob Etter, Ray Goff, Cy Grant, Rodney Hampton, Terry Hoage, Dan Magill, Kevin McLee, Willie McClendon, Larry Munson, George Patton, John Rauch, Matt Robinson, Erk Russell, Jake Scott, Lindsay Scott, Frank Sinkwich, Bill Stanfill, Tommy Thurson, Charley Trippi, Herschel Walker, Tim Worley.

University of Georgia fall break controversy

In 2000, the University of Georgia changed their fall break to coincide with the date of the game. Reportedly, this was intended to reduce absences and alarming traffic fatality trends related to students traveling to Jacksonville for the game, a 342 mile trip which would, without the break, need to be made in one night. There have been two subsequent attempts, in 2003 and 2004, to change fall break to a different weekend. Both were withdrawn after overwhelming complaints from the student body.

In 2005, UGA provost Arnett Mace, upset over the widespread cancelling of classes on the Wednesday prior to the Thursday-Friday break, asked all deans and department heads to report to him on how many classes had been cancelled in violation of University policy. While it has led to ridicule by some, such as one dean's comparing Mace to Dean Wormer from Animal House, the move will likely lead to a renewed examination of the future of fall break. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) Starting in the fall of 2008, a newly accepted compromise between UGA Student Government members and faculty in the University Council will go into effect which will shorten fall break to just the Friday before the game off, but increase Thanksgiving break from three days to an entire week. (Student Government Report - UGA)

See also

References

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