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The Georgia football-Florida rivalry is only going to intensify with Kirby Smart and Dan Mullen
On the first day of Florida’s spring practice session, Dan Mullen was already thinking about Kirby Smart and Georgia. The Gators and Bulldogs don’t play for almost 8 months, but that didn’t stop Mullen from taking a swipe at Georgia football.
Mullen was speaking on transfers when he took what seemed to be a pretty clear shot at the way Georgia handled its situation with quarterback Justin Fields, who transferred from the Georgia after just one season.
“I’d think we did a poor job recruiting if guys were coming in and then immediately walking out the door because it was something different than what they thought it would be and we lied to them during recruiting, or we sold them on a dream that wasn’t true,” Mullen said.
This is just the latest instance in a rivalry that’s gotten very intense since the start of 2019. In January, Georgia hired away Charlton Warren from Florida to become the new defensive backs coach. Florida then landed a commitment from Kaiir Elam, a top Georgia target on National Signing Day. The Bulldogs responded by getting 4-star 2020 quarterback Carson Beck, someone many assumed was going to commit to the Gators before Georgia got involved.
Georgia-Florida has always been an intense rivalry. From “Run, Lindsay Run” to one of Steve Spurrier’s many jabs, these two have plenty of iconic rivalry moments. But under Smart and Mullen — two coaches who figure to stay at Georgia and Florida for the foreseeable future — we could see a coaching rivalry that could blow Jim Harbaugh-Pete Carroll out of the water.
These two really don’t seem to like each other. When the Bulldogs took on Mullen and Mississippi State in 2017, Georgia opened the game with a flea flicker. When Mullen faced off against Smart in 2018, he ran the exact same play to open the game. The only difference was that Jake Fromm completed his pass for a touchdown, while Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks missed on his.
Mullen’s comments on Monday aren’t the first time he’s publicly taken a swipe at Georgia. Before ever coaching in a Georgia-Florida game, Mullen took a shot at the Bulldogs when he compared Georgia reaching and winning the 2017 SEC Championship Game to a blind squirrel finding an acorn.
Smart and Mullen are polar opposites. Smart is a well-regarded defensive mind, while Mullen rose to prominence for his offense. Mullen has branded himself as a hip coach, as he’s shown up to SEC Media days wearing Yeezy’s. Smart is almost always all business, with the exception of the occasional dodgeball game.
Then there is player development and recruiting. Mullen has become known for finding diamonds in the rough, and not signing a ton of high-profile players. Smart on the other hand is regarded as the best recruiter in the country. He’s the only coach in the college football to sign a top three class in each of the past three seasons. The differences in recruiting is very clear when comparing the number of five-star prospects between the two programs.
Georgia will have 15 composite 5-star recruits on its 2019 roster. Florida will have none. If you expand it to 5-star recruits across all recruiting services, The Bulldogs have 22 5-star prospects on its roster. The Gators have just two.
Mullen and Smart just have fundamental differences in how they view the game of football. Those differences are only going to become more stark as the two become more entrenched at their current schools. The longer Smart and Mullen remain at Georgia and Florida, the more intense this rivalry is going to become.
Rarely have we seen Smart celebrate a victory as publicly as he did after beating Florida in 2018. Given how this rivalry has become only more fierce, you can bet Smart and a lot of Georgia fans are counting down the days — 235 — until Georgia and Florida meet again.
National analyst identifies Georgia football as a best bet to go over 2019 win total
In other news on Monday, BetOnline released win totals for the 2019 season. Georgia was given an over/under of 10.5, with the money favoring the Bulldogs hitting the over.
Bruce Feldman of the Athletic, one of the most respected voices in all of college football, thinks the Bulldogs are one of the safer bets to go over their win total in 2019.
“This is a loaded team led by a very experienced QB in Jake Fromm. The offensive line should be terrific, and the Dawgs have a terrific kicker. The schedule isn’t daunting, either,” Feldman wrote. “Aside from the home game against the Irish, the only team that I think will be close to the top 10 is Florida, and the Gators have to replace four starting offensive linemen. The Auburn game is on the road, but the Tigers are breaking in a new QB.”
Georgia was tied with Oklahoma for the third highest win total among all college football teams. Only Clemson and Alabama came in with greater win totals, as those two schools both had their win total set at 11.
As for some of Georgia’s 2019 opponents, Notre Dame has the highest mark at 9.5. Florida is next with 9, followed by Auburn at 8. Texas A&M, who Georgia plays on Nov. 23, comes in at 7.5.
Georgia has gone 11-1 in each of the past two seasons, so its shown it has no problem topping 10.5. Should the Bulldogs hit the over again, there’s going to be a very good chance the Bulldogs are playing in the SEC Championship game once again.
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