Being a college football pundit is all about having a short memory. If a team scores a huge upset in a big game, they're instantly a fantastic group of youngsters with a real shot at moving into the BCS rankings, even though they had to block a last-second field goal attempt to squeak by Wetumpka A&M the week before. And it's perfectly acceptable to pronounce a given team The Greatest Ever -- the 2005 USC Trojans, just by way of example -- before the season is even over.
Being a college football fan, on the other hand, means having a memory that's a lot longer.
You have to be able to remember stuff your team did -- or, in some cases, had done to them -- years if not decades ago, and we've already established that in SEC country, competitive grudge-holding is a marathon, not a sprint. You may not fully grasp why your team's fans especially despise those of another team, but if they've been playing for more than a century, there's probably a damn good reason they do.
Therefore this week's question is: With which rival do Bulldog fans have the longest-running bad blood?
Longevity alone doesn't make a rivalry heated, of course. The number of Georgia-Tennessee games played throughout history is minute in comparison to the number of Georgia-Vanderbilt games, but we all know which of those division rivals Bulldog Nation spends more time and energy hating. But in many ways bad blood is like fine wine: The more it ages, the more time it has to soak up the influences of its environment -- in this case, everything from historic games to memorable pranks and, in some cases, changes that were occurring in our very society at the time.
Georgia's five longest-running rivals are:
South Carolina. First meeting, 1894; 63 games; Georgia leads 46-15-2. It speaks to the historic nature of this rivalry that the Dawgs and 'Cocks weren't even conference rivals until 1992, yet they already had a lengthy record of animosity toward one another. That animosity obviously swung in Georgia's favor more often than not, as you can see by the lopsided series record, but Georgia's dominance has done nothing to stem the flow of bile running in both directions.
Alabama. First meeting, 1895; 65 games; Georgia trails 25-36-4. The Tide are one of the few rivals against whom Georgia is at a marked disadvantage in the all-time record, mostly because of Bear Bryant (who held a 9-3 record against UGA during his Bama tenure). But it's still a very big deal anytime the Tide and Dawgs get together, whether it's the "man enough" game from 2002 or the shocking 2008 blowout signaling that Nick Saban had definitively placed Alabama back on the college football map.
Florida. First meeting, 1904; 89 games; Georgia leads 47-40-2. Yes, college football did exist before 1990 -- contrary to the belief of most UF fans -- and the Dawgs and Gators despised each other long before then, too. The Gators are probably just upset that they had to play six games to score a single point against their rivals to the north (Georgia won the first five matchups by an aggregate score of 184-0).
Georgia Tech. First meeting, 1893; 102 games; Georgia leads 61-37-5. There's a reason the words "hate" and "old" both appear in the unofficial name of the UGA-GT rivalry. Long before the first DragonCon was held, long before the computer was even invented, Dawg fans were slagging Techies as socially inept losers while Tech fans were looking upon Bulldog Nation as a bunch of obnoxious rednecks. If that's not what a college rivalry is all about, tell me what is.
Auburn. First meeting, 1892; 124 games; Georgia trails 52-54-8. You could make the case that "bad blood" is a fairly recent development, prompted more by Nick Fairley's MMA moves in last year's game than anything else, for Georgia-Auburn previously had a reputation as one of the friendlier rivalries in the otherwise vindictive SEC. But there's no denying that said rivalry goes back a long way -- longer, in fact, than any in the conference, and longer than all but six rivalries in all of Division I-A.
This is a close one, but while Georgia-Auburn may hold the edge in terms of the number of games played, I'm going to have to go with Georgia Tech for sheer hate.
Georgia and Auburn fans make fun of one another, call each other "cheater" and "redneck" and all the rest, but Georgia and Georgia Tech fans down-and-out loathe one another -- and have ever since the very first game between the two schools, when UGA fans pelted Tech's players with rocks after Tech won. Actually, it goes back even before Tech fielded a football team to begin with -- in 1892, when Georgia and Auburn played their first football game, Tech students were invited to the game (held at Piedmont Park in Atlanta) to cheer for Auburn.
This would begin a tradition that stands to this day, whereby Techies attempt to compensate for their inability to beat Georgia by living vicariously through any team that has a chance in hell of beating the Dawgs.