No Handshakes for Dawgs and Boys

ATHENS – After a grueling month of hitting each other during practice, exchanging pleasantries with the opposition before Saturday's game isn't exactly the ideal way to kick off the season, several Georgia players said, but they're willing to do it if Oklahoma State is.

The American Football Coaches Association requested that all teams shake hands before their first game in order to promote sportsmanship, but Cowboys' head coach Mike Gundy expressed some concerns about potential fights between the teams. That's a sentiment Georgia quarterback Joe Cox can understand.

"I think it could definitely happen, especially between teams that have bad blood," Cox said. "If you have that many guys going to midfield to shake hands, somebody's going to say something they shouldn't say probably. I think it could get out of hand and the whole team is on the field."

That was Gundy's worry when he told reporters he was unsure whether he supported the plan. Georgia head coach Mark Richt said he would have his players participate if Gundy agreed – it's up to the head coach of the home team to decide, Richt said – but he would also remind his players what is at stake should a problem escalate.

"I'd like to have all of our guys who traveled be able to participate in the game, and if you get in a fight, you're out, you're done," Richt said. "That in itself, I would think, would keep things cool."

Keeping things cool is part of the problem, Cox said.

While Cox said he's not against the idea, he would prefer his players be as focused and intense as possible before kickoff. The handshakes only distract from that.

"If I was a coach and I was trying to get my team really focused on physically beating somebody in a physically demanding game, I wouldn't want to go do a full-team handshake before the game," he said.

While Richt said the gesture is fine for the opening game, he wouldn't be in favor of continuing the tradition throughout the season as more rivalry games are played.

Oklahoma State and Georgia certainly aren't traditional rivals – as will be the case with many of the opening-week games – but the two teams did play just two years ago, and Cox said he has no doubt there are still some bitter feelings about the outcome in the Cowboys' locker room.

"Everybody knows how they were talking after the game, saying they didn't come ready to play and thought they were outplayed and outcoached, and nobody wants to play again and have the same feeling after the game," Cox said. "So they're going to be focused and fired up and I'm sure the last thing on their mind is meeting at midfield and shaking hands before the game."


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