But the two schools took a giant step together in the last year in agreeing that both the Gators and Bulldogs will wear home jerseys in Jacksonville for their annual fight along the St. Johns River.
That the two rivals may even quibble over who first suggested that the teams wear dark jerseys this year seems about right for this rivalry.
“I think if you look back on it, one time (Florida AD) Jeremy (Foley) had commented that somebody had recommended that to them, and they proposed it. I’m not going to argue about who get credit or not,” Georgia AD Greg McGarity said.
“The best thing to say is that both schools agree.”
That doesn’t happen often.
Still, five days before Georgia’s 23-20 win over the Gators last season, Georgia historian Mark Maxwell went to McGarity with an idea to go back in time. Maxwell suggested that the Gators and Dawgs both wear their home jerseys in Jacksonville. After all, from 1939 to 1959 and several years after that, both Georgia and Florida wore home, or “dark” jerseys at the old Gator Bowl, where the two schools have met for all but two years since 1933.
“We thought it would be something that would add a lot color to the game. Both schools thought it would be a good idea, and the SEC approved it, and here we are,” McGarity said. “We are going back in time.”
Maxwell, who McGarity describes as a “kind of the keeper of the University of Georgia historical things for football” sent McGarity examples of what the two programs looked like when both teams dressed in dark uniforms, a practice that happened as late as 1970 according to the AD.
“We were looking back at some old pictures of the game, and at the end of the day we talked to (Foley) and asked him if he wanted to do it,” McGarity said. “Florida thought it would be a neat idea because it was part of the tradition of the game.”
“There was a time when Florida was in white and Georgia was in red,” McGarity said of some games from 1969 to 1973. “I guess that’s just what the schools decided to do back in the early 1970s. Then in 1974 it reverted to your traditional home team wearing dark.”
From that stage forward, the odd years have found the Gators in dark, usually blue, uniforms and Georgia in white. Even years were the opposite, with the Bulldogs always in red and the Gators in white. So the move to both teams in dark home jerseys did take some planning and permission asking on the part of both programs.
“This had to be planned and coordinated,” McGarity said.
It wasn’t something that could be done on the Tueday leading up to the game, McGarity acknowledged - “Not at all.”
There was a time when the road team wearing dark, or home, jerseys was prohibited by NCAA rules. Showing up in dark uniforms as the road team would result in the loss of a timeout. That was the case in 2008 when USC arrived at the Rose Bowl to play rival UCLA in their home maroon jerseys.
USC was penalized a timeout… the Bruins called a timeout after the Trojans were penalized a “violation of any equipment rules.” The game moved on. The NCAA Football Rules Committee then changed the rule requiring opposing teams to wear jerseys of contrasting color in early 2009. Now teams can request to wear dark, or home, jerseys on the road. But they must first get permission from the conference. In the case of LSU and Georgia Tech, who both now wear home white jerseys, the road team wears dark, but that's a rare case with those two programs.
On the field, the Bulldogs and Gators will have to navigate their way through both teams wearing dark uniforms for the first time in 44 years. None of the Georgia players think it will be a big deal
“I don't think it will be that bad,” Georgia offensive lineman Kolton Houston said. “Red and blue, I don't think, will mix in that much. But it is funny we're wearing both home team colors.”
“I think blue and red are different enough” receiver Michael Bennett said. “I think it's going to be really cool with both of us wearing home jerseys this year.”
“That is kind of weird,” running back Brendan Douglas said of the uniform situation. “I just found that out last week. I didn't really know about it, but that's kind of strange. I guess we'll be able to tell the difference. I don't think it will be a problem. I think we'll be able to tell the difference.”
Click the image below to see photos of the Dawgs vs. the Gators over the years through the lens of Dawg Post.