It’s always great to hear from my good friend Frank Frangie. He knows this rivalry, he knows the Gators, he knows the SEC, he knows Jacksonville. Frank is the voice of the Jacksonville Jaguars, a respected talk show host and one of the most respected football minds and broadcasters in the business. I’m often asked who I’d like to do a show with regularly, Frank is at the top of the list. We’re always grateful to receive Frank’s tremendous insight as a longtime contributor to Bulldawg Illustrated.
In the first year, how is the relationship with the Gator believers and Billy Napier?
Gator fans are over the moon for Napier. The main reason is that they are convinced that he will recruit in a way that his predecessors did not. Dan Mullen didn’t exactly turn out to be a recruiter, nor did Jim McElwain. Most now believe that you need to build the recruiting mechanism similar to what Nick Saban built in Alabama and Kirby has in Georgia. There’s no telling if that will happen, but his background suggests it might. Fans are very excited about this opportunity. His approval ratings, even in this 4-3 season, are very high.
What do you think of this Florida team?
The Gators are a midfield of the SEC team. They really struggle on defense – one of the worst Gator defenses of my life – and offense is hot and cold, usually based on how well Anthony Richardson is playing. They’re 4-3, but in fairness the three teams they’ve beaten are Tennessee, Kentucky and the up-and-coming LSU. But it’s really just an average team.
What does Florida have to do to win?
This one is going to be tough. For most of the Spurrier years, I really didn’t think Georgia could ever win. They all felt like mismatches, at least to me. This is the same, only in favor of Georgia. I can’t imagine, even if things are going as well as they can for Florida, that the Gators could win. Georgia is so much better. Lots of really good players, trained really well. They are better than the three teams that have already defeated Florida. But to your question – the Gators need Richardson to play his best game. You need him to run more than he has to wreak havoc outside the pocket. He’s a fickle passer, but he’s an electric athlete. He must be great in this game. You need to convert third downs and stay on the field and keep a really fighting defense off the field. And they probably need to get some takeaways. I think they have to win the sales battle by at least three points to even have a chance. It’s not likely.
I love the Dawgs. Talented, tough, smart, well trained. Probably fell asleep at the wheel a bit against Missouri but still found a way to win. Georgia might be the best program in America right now — at least on par with Alabama and Ohio State — the only others under discussion. Kirby really recruited at an elite level and they train that way too. Stetson Bennett has seen everything there is to see in college football and can win with his arm and legs. No one would be surprised if they repeated themselves.
Make sure Jacksonville keeps the game.
I can’t imagine the game ever going away. I know Kirby thinks losing that recruiting weekend every other year is a detriment to recruiting, but now that the home team is able to recruit, that should help. The game is financially more beneficial for both schools than playing at home. In addition, both schools receive 40,000 seats each year. And I would hate to be the one to tell those rich Georgia boosters on Sea Island and elsewhere in South Georgia that they are losing their game. Additionally, one of the things that sets college football apart from all other sports is its wonderful traditions. Marching bands and cheerleaders and student sections and wonderful games on neutral sides. Out of selfishness I know how important it is for our city. I hope like crazy that our city has it forever.
College football has changed tremendously in the past few years, what would you like to see next?
The 12-team playoff. By 2026 at the latest we are on track, but it seems there is real momentum to make it by 2024. We need more teams on the hunt, more fanbases excited to compete in a winner-takes-all tournament. I am really looking forward to this. The other big speakers are Conference Extension and NIL, and I know both of these topics get big headlines, but I would be disingenuous to say I have strong opinions on either. I like it when players get theirs, so I totally agree with NIL, although I hope we find some consistency or how it’s applied from state to state. As for the conference expansion, I agree with the exact direction. The best conferences will always add the best teams that don’t already exist. As is. Which is fine with me.
Georgia 41, Florida 24. There is currently a rift between these two teams. I can’t imagine it being much closer.