Culture difference between Georgia Football and Florida shine bright after game

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Now that the dust had settled over the Georgia Football team’s win over Florida on Saturday, we have a chance to see the cultures of two programs that could not be more different.

Call me a dork if you like, but if there is one thing I believe, it’s that nothing is more important to a team than it’s culture. The biggest reason that I support Kirby Smart so strongly isn’t because I think he’s a coaching genius. It’s because I see him focusing on what I believe is going to be the most important part of building a Georgia Football dynasty. I recently read a fantastic book by former NFL personal guy and now Ringer contributor Michael Lombardi all about how the best of the best built their dynasties in the league and the first chapter is pretty telling; ‘Culture beats everything’. That chapter has a quote from Bill Walsh, the man who built the San Francisco 49ers and created the passing league we see today:

"Champions behave like champions before they’re champions."

It’s a simple quote, but I think it perfectly sums up the key point Lombardi makes in his book. In the NFL, everyone is talented, but the cultures that organizations build are what truly separates the likes of New England and their 5 super bowls from Cleveland and their dumpster fire. Bill Belicheck doesn’t have magical powers, he simply focuses on things that others don’t and because of that, he keeps on winning.

Now you might be asking what this book all about the NFL has to do with our beloved Dawgs? Well the victory over Florida this past weekend showed me two very different cultures and that gave me a great deal of comfort as a Dawg fan. Yes, these are not professional football players, but one team came into the game with a professional attitude and the other quite simply did not. One was jumping and hollering on the sideline, acting like they had already won the game when they were in fact only up by one point and the other stayed focused and methodical. Just by typing those sentences out, it’s not hard to figure out which side won the game.

After the matchup, the talking continued. Several Florida players claimed that they were in fact the better team, they just didn’t play well. One even said that they hadn’t practiced very hard this past week, as if that was an acceptable excuse. It’s like the genuinely believed they were just going to stroll into the stadium and destroy their biggest rival without putting in any work. They didn’t even realize that this was an indictment of them and their preparation, instead seeing it as a valid excuse for failing to deliver in the most watched game of the year on CBS.

Watching Dan Mullen after the game, it was staggering to see him follow that same pattern. He didn’t give any credit to the team that had just beaten them. He claimed it was impossible to win without his two starting CB’s, blamed the officials for a bad call and basically spouted the same rubbish that came from his players. Mullen even went as far as to boast about how his freshman QB Emory Jones played better than Justin Fields who he hadn’t noticed did not see the field because Jake Fromm was too busy carving up Florida’s defense. When I saw that, it became pretty clear what the problem with Florida is and it isn’t guys like CeCe Jefferson. It’s a head coach who unlike Kirby Smart two weeks ago, showed no understanding of his teams failings.

This rivalry between Smart and Mullen is just getting started. Both will have long tenures at their current teams and I’m sure that at some point, Mullen and Florida will get a win in this matchup. However, unless there are significant changes in the mentality in Gainesville, I cannot see that becoming the norm. Their fans can harp on about this being a moral victory all they like. The fact is that Georgia was able to win by 19 points while still not playing particularly well. Hanging around for 2 and a bit quarters shouldn’t be called a victory for Florida. That’s the same line the likes of Vanderbilt and Kentucky have used for years.

Does anyone inside that Florida building believe that their team behaved like champions this past weekend? Do champions talk trash but not practice very hard? Do they eye gouge opposing players because they’re losing? Do they throw hissy fits at officials when they get a bad call? All of the answers to anyone with a brain is no and yet most Florida fans are proud of their team this morning. They saw enough to think that they’re going to overcome the Bulldogs next season. All I saw was an example of how they are going to continue to be disappointed so long as these two coaches remain where they are.

The opposite was true for Georgia. They have the youngest team in the SEC and it shows at times. They’re still searching for the leadership they had a year ago and they remain deficient in some key position groups. It’s not like Georgia isn’t struggling with some injuries as well. But dammit if they didn’t nut up this weekend after getting humbled in Death Valley. The Dawgs worked their tails off for two weeks while the Gators talked trash and apparently goofed off. They overcame mistakes in the game itself and consistently beat Florida on 3rd downs when it mattered. They kept their cool while Florida was losing theirs and spoiling for a fight.

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That’s what champions do. They keep their heads down and grind. They focus on themselves and getting better each and every week and most importantly, they believe in the program and their teammates. When you just look at the culture of the teams, it’s hard to imagine two programs that are more different right now than the Dawgs and the Gators. So let Florida make their excuses this morning to explain away this defeat because there really is only one very simple reason that the Dawgs will continue to win these games going forward. Culture beats everything and after Saturday, I think we all know which program has the winner in that department.