A Controversial Beginning To A Bitter Rivalry

One of the more unusual aspects of the rivalry between the University of Georgia and the University of Florida is that the two schools do not agree on when the rivalry actually began or even how many victories each school has. 

The University of Georgia claims that the first football game between the two schools took place on Saturday, October 15, 1904.  On that day, Coach Charles Barnard’s team met a team representing the University of Florida in Macon, GA and defeated it 52-0.  The University of Florida maintains that the team which played Georgia that day did not represent the modern University of Florida (which was established in Gainesville by the Florida legislature one year later), but one of its predecessor institutions located in Lake City, FL, a school which had previously been known as the Florida Agricultural College. 

1904 University of Georgia football team

The 1904 University of Georgia football team

The Athens Banner (a predecessor to today’s Athens Banner-Herald) mentioned on October 14th that:

The University of Georgia football team accompanied by Coach Barnard and Col. E.L. Griggs, leaves this afternoon over the Central of Georgia Railway for Macon, where they will meet the University of Florida eleven for their game.

Based on this, one could argue that whichever school or city the team came from, it was representing itself as playing for the University of Florida.

From the Florida perspective, their modern University certainly was not in existence in its current form in 1904 and would not field its first team until 1906.  Certainly, the argument that the team on the field did not represent the current iteration of the University of Florida is valid from their perspective.

As it stands, the University of Georgia recognizes the 1904 game as a valid game played between itself and the University of Florida and counts that win as part of their total wins in the series, for a total of 52 victories with the 2019 contest yet to be played.  The University of Florida only recognizes that UGA has 51 wins.

The first game that is recognized as valid by both Universities took place on November 6, 1915, in Jacksonville, FL (site of the current ‘World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party’ since 1933).  The University of Georgia won that meeting 37-0.  The University of Florida wouldn’t score on the University of Georgia until it lost a 32-9 contest in 1926.  Florida wouldn't win its first game in the series until it recorded a 26-6 victory over UGA in a game played in Savannah on November 10, 1928.

A Controversial Beginning To A Bitter Rivalry