ATHENS, Ga. - There will be no mistake Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville when the ninth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs and the Florida Gators take the field in both teams' home uniforms.
Georgia will be wearing red jerseys and Florida will be in blue jerseys, evoking a look that was common in yesteryear but last took place in this rivalry in 1970. The two universities announced the change in attire for this week back in March, but several Bulldogs learned of it Tuesday for the first time.
"For real?" senior inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera said. "That's going to be a little weird."
After a quarter century of requiring one team, most always the visitor, to wear white jerseys, the NCAA football rules committee in February 2009 announced that both teams could wear home jerseys as long as they were contrasting colors. Georgia and Florida had to seek and receive NCAA approval, and now it's off to the great unknown.
There will be no questioning which team is wearing which jersey Saturday, but will the difference between red and blue be as obvious to the Bulldogs as red and white?
"I think it's enough of a contrast to where we don't need to practice it," coach Mark Richt said. "I'm hoping our guys don't think blue is red and that our QB starts throwing to their guys. I don't think it will be an issue."
Bulldogs senior quarterback Hutson Mason entered Tuesday knowing that the Bulldogs would be wearing red. He did not realize the Gators would be in blue.
So he will be the first Georgia quarterback since Paul Gilbert to be playing in a Georgia-Florida game full of colored jerseys.
"I haven't had to think about it until just now," Mason said. "You've got me a little paranoid."
The change in the NCAA rule took place a couple of months after the 2008 game between UCLA and Southern California, who each wore home jerseys in the Rose Bowl. USC was quickly docked a timeout by officials for wearing its cardinal jerseys on the road, but UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel responded by taking a timeout of his own.
Alabama and Tennessee used to wear colored jerseys when they played, and former Volunteers coach Lane Kiffin petitioned to wear orange jerseys before their 2009 game in Tuscaloosa. The Southeastern Conference gave its approval, but Alabama denied the request.
"I don't know who's going to enjoy it," Richt said. "Hopefully the fans enjoy it. I think our players are fine wearing either jersey. I don't even know who thought of the idea, but I wasn't against it. We'll see how it goes."
Said senior receiver Michael Bennett: "I think blue and red will be different enough. It's going to be cool. I'm looking forward to it."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.