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The success gap between Georgia and Florida sports is widening

Cy Brown

Welcome to your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes every Monday through Friday. Today, we look at a couple of 5-star QBs who could end up in Athens and the widening gap in success between UGA and Florida’s athletic programs.

Florida sports is leaving Georgia in the dust

Much to the chagrin and annoyance of Georgia fans, the Florida baseball team won the national championship this week with a two-game sweep of LSU in the College World Series finals. With the title, the Gators joined Ohio State, UCLA and Michigan as the only programs to have national championships in baseball, men’s basketball and football.

It’s just the latest sign of a growing gap between Georgia and Florida sports that’s only widened in the seven years since Greg McGarity left his post as associate athletic director at Florida to come to Athens and replace Damon Evans as UGA’s athletic director.

Since the move in 2010, Florida has boat-raced Georgia in national success and prominence. The Gators have 15 national titles since McGarity left. Georgia has four since he arrived.

To put the current gap between Florida’s and Georgia’s athletic programs in proper context, the Bulldogs have only won one more national title during McGarity’s entire tenure as athletic director than the Gators won this year (men’s track and field, women’s tennis and baseball). And even Florida programs not winning titles are still incredibly successful.

This gulf between the two athletic departments goes deeper than just national titles and top rankings, though. The Gators dominated the Bulldogs in head-to-head matchups in six of the most important sports on campus. That includes football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and gymnastics.

That’s another reason why Florida’s ascendency over Georgia this year stings so much. The Gators are excelling in sports the Bulldogs took so much pride in previously. It was less than a decade ago that Georgia found itself in the CWS final, only to lose to Fresno State. Now, Georgia baseball has sunk into ignominy while the Gators won the whole damn thing. Florida won the women’s tennis title this year, too. Although Georgia certainly isn’t bad in that sport, it still hurts when you consider the Bulldogs seemed to have just as good of a chance in the NCAA Tournament and have a rich history that includes five national titles in the sport.

Then there’s gymnastics. Georgia was the pre-eminent power in college gymnastics since the sports’ inception, but the Gym Dogs are a shell of their former selves since Suzanne Yoculan Leebern retired. Florida’s helped fill that gap, though, with national titles in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Since McGarity departed in 2010, Florida has gone from having really good college sports to having one of the best in America. Some Georgia fans will point to McGarity’s absence as the reason. Addition by subtraction and all that. Personally, I don’t buy that, simply because I don’t think any No. 2 guy can have a big enough effect to have held them back while he was at the school.

But there are two sides to every coin, and the gulf between these programs isn’t just Florida getting better. It’s also Georgia getting worse. Call it subtraction by addition. McGarity’s talked a big game about wanting Georgia to be one of the best programs in America, but he hasn’t backed it up.

When McGarity was hired, Georgia had 38 national titles in all sports to Florida’s 24. That gap has closed to 42-39. And for Georgia, that’s counting six equestrian titles, and equestrian isn’t an NCAA sport. So, you could actually consider the gap 39-36 in favor of Florida, if you want to get technical about it. (And, I assure you, Gators fans do.)

Athletic departments, and athletic directors by extension, shouldn’t live and die by the results of one’s rival, or how two rivals fare in head-to-head competition. But when the gap is as profound as it is now, it has to count for something. UGA used to hang its hat on being one of, if not the, best athletic departments in the South. Even though the football and basketball teams weren’t always winning titles, the non-revenue sports were as strong or stronger than any other school in the region. That’s certainly not the case anymore. And it’s a punch in the gut to see that position usurped by the school’s biggest rival.

Corral-ing a 5-star QB

Jeff Sentell of DawgNation caught up with 5-star QB Matt Corral, and the Long Beach Poly product had glowing things to say about Georgia. Based on what the former USC commit told Sentell, he will be making visits to UGA, Florida and Alabama sometime in July, then making a decision after that. And it could be good news for the Dawgs.

According to 247’s Crystal Ball feature, recruiting reporters have trended toward predicting Corral will choose Georgia since mid-June. But more projections have poured in over the last two days, with four additional recruiting reporters forecasting Georgia for Corral. That brings the percentage of reporters who think Corral will eventually sign with Georgia up to a whopping 88 percent.

Just a few months ago, when it looked like Georgia had struck out with every top QB recruit in the country, I said the Dawgs would be fine without a major QB coming in this class. I still think that. But it’s looking less and less like that will be the case. If Corral doesn’t choose Georgia, there’s still a good chance fellow 5-star Justin Fields does. It just goes to show you how quickly everything can change in recruiting.

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