Kirby Smart has been a part of the Georgia-Florida rivalry as a player and now as a head coach. He tells his players what they do against the Gators will long be talked about.
Once their playing days are over, Georgia football players will have a lot of memories: playing for the first time Between the Hedges, going in front of more than 100,000 opposing fans heckling them for 60 minutes, and all those big wins pulled out in dramatic fashion.
Head coach Kirby Smart says his players will also long be defined by one particular thing: the Florida game.
“I’ve told our players that it’s one of those things where you’ll talk about what you did in that game,” Smart said during the SEC coaches teleconference. “How did you do against Florida? What was your record? How did your senior class do? How did you do in your last opportunity?”
This group of seniors will have a chance to even up their record at 2-2 against the rival Gators and go out a winner after two straight losses.
Smart, who played for Georgia from 1995-98, still remembers his battles against Florida in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
“I remember the huge win for Georgia and Coach Donnan’s staff and our team. I also remember the downside of getting drubbed pretty bad at home. I was, unfortunately, the kickoff return guy. And when you’re the kickoff return guy and they score 50-something points, you have to cover a lot of returns and wake up pretty sore the next day.”
For the newcomers to the rivalry, Smart said they won’t fully understand the impact it has on the universities, players, coaches, and everyone else involved until they experience it firsthand.
“It’s unique, because you only hear about it. You don’t really know about it until you see it, you live it. It’s pretty different. It’s really cool.”