A century is a long time to hold a grudge, but Georgia and Florida have managed it rather easily.
On Nov. 2, the Bulldogs and the Gators will kick off at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Since the first matchup in 1915, the rivalry has grown into one of the fiercest in sports, but how did it all get started? Turns out, neither team can agree.
Georgia claims the first meeting between the two was in Macon, Georgia, in 1904. The Bulldogs won that game 52-0, but the University of Florida Athletic Association doesn’t recognize it. The Florida team that took the field that day was actually from the Florida Agricultural College in Lake City, Florida, and it would be another year before the state legislature established what is now the University of Florida.
The first meeting between the two that both schools recognize was held in 1915. Like present day, that game was a conference matchup, but this was long before the formation of the Southeastern Conference.
Georgia and Florida were both members of the Southeastern Intercollegiate Athletic Association at the time. Current SEC schools Alabama, Auburn, Vanderbilt and others were also in the conference that season, but the SIAA also featured small programs such as Transylvania University and Centre University, both in Kentucky.
Head coaches were a bit different back then, too. William Alexander Cunningham was the head football coach at Georgia in 1915 and also became the school’s head basketball coach the following year. Then, college football took a break in 1917 and 1918 due to World War I. Cunningham enlisted in the Army and served in both world wars.
Cunningham’s Georgia squad was 3-2-1 headed into the Nov. 6, 1915, matchup against Florida. Leading the Bulldogs was team captain John “Tiny” Henderson. In an age where nearly everyone had a nickname, his was especially fitting. Henderson played offensive tackle at just 210 pounds.
On the other sideline, Florida boasted star quarterback Ashley Wakefield “Rammy” Ramsdell. A four-sport athlete, Ramsdell is the oldest quarterback in the Florida Hall of Fame, as well as the first ever scholarship athlete in the school’s history.
But Ramsdell was held in check by the Bulldogs that day, and Georgia shut out the Gators 37-0.
Over a century later, the Florida-Georgia game has become one of the marquee rivalries in all of college football, and the specifics of the 1915 game have been blurred by the passage of time.