Once upon a rivalry
I'm sure some Florida fans will remind me that they beat Kirby Smart in his first year as a head coach. They'll also throw around the year "1980". Both of these will happen because they see the direction of each program. They see that Dan Mullet struggles to even play checkers while Kirby is constantly screaming checkmate.
Dan Mullen has had the pleasure of facing Georgia on 2 separate occasions. 1st in 2017, a (31-3) drubbing in his last season as the head coach of Mississippi State,and once again last season in his inaugural season as the head coach of the Florida Gators. Once again,Kirby Smart and company put up over 30 points in a (36-17) route of the Gators to make it 2 in a row in Jacksonville. Pay attention because Kirby isn't finished winning.
Here's a quick video of some highlights from that matchup in Jacksonville from last season
Upon Coach Smart's arrival in Athens, it didn't take him long to point out the glaring holes in the roster. It also didn't take him long to start filling them. Recruiting has proven to be the lifeblood of major college football success and Kirby is good. Very good.
Having been hired late in the year, Kirby worked tirelessly to hold Georgia's '16 recruiting class together and try to fill in the holes that have haunted the program in the past. He did just that, landing the composite number 6 class in the nation and pulling in three 5 stars commitments. Florida failed to scratch the top 10, finishing 12th while not landing a single 5-star recruit.
2017 proved to be even better. Recruiting at UGA began to soar. Finishing 3rd overall in the composite rankings while landing (3) more 5-star recruits and continuing to fill in the gaps. Florida found themselves really SOARING in the recruiting rankings as well. Though they failed once again to land a 5-star they did take a big step up from number 12 in '16 to number 11 overall in '17.
Another step forward. The 2018 recruiting class turned out to be monumental. The UGA staff put their foot on the gas and never looked back. They finished 1st overall in the composite and were able to pull in a whopping (7) 5-stars. Those pesky Gators stumbled to 14 overall, while you guessed it, landing zero 5 star commitments. A growing trend.
2019 was a similar year for Coach Smart and Co. Ending 2nd overall in this recruiting cycle while netting five more 5-star recruits bringing the total, since Kirby's arrival, to 18. Florida did crack the top 10 finally but did it without a single 5 star once again. I suppose the Jimmy's and Joe's memo never made it across the desk in Gainesville.
As you can see this is the tale of two programs speeding in opposite directions. Coach Mullen seems content taking the approach of firing shots at The University of Georgia. While Kirby takes a methodical approach of pulling recruits out from under the noses of the entire Florida staff. We've seen it happen multiple times this spring and this week may prove to be no different.
Unless Dan Mullen is able to turn this ship around very soon this will truly be a rivalry that once was.