Ray Goff will be sitting high above the fray Saturday, but part of the former Georgia coach will feel like he’s right in the middle of the fight.
“The good thing is I can’t lose,” Goff told The State ahead of South Carolina’s trip to Sanford Stadium to play Georgia on Saturday.
The Gamecocks are 6-2 overall and 4-2 in the SEC under former Goff player Will Muschamp. The Bulldogs are 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the SEC under former Goff player Kirby Smart. They are the top two teams in the SEC’s Eastern Division, and Georgia could be headed to the College Football Playoff. If it can get by the Gamecocks.
Goff will be at the game, in the Sanford Stadium suite where he watches most of the Bulldogs’ home games, but he doesn’t plan to speak to either coach on game day.
“I’m not going to bother (Muschamp), and I don’t bother Kirby,” Goff said. “I know how it is. You have people pulling at you and people wanting to ask you questions and wanting you to speak here and do this and do that. I don’t do any of that because I’ve been there.”
Goff coached Georgia from 1989-1995, compiling a 46-34-1 record before being fired. He was also an All-SEC quarterback for the Bulldogs.
“Obviously, I played at Georgia and coached at Georgia and I live in Georgia so I have great feelings for my university, but also I have great feelings for Will and great feelings for Kirby,” Goff said. “I’m for Will Muschamp, too. It’s a tough situation. One of them is going to win, and one of them is going to lose.”
Muschamp played safety for the Bulldogs from 1991-1994, and Smart played the same position from 1995-1998. This will be Muschamp’s third trip to Sanford Stadium as an opponent and his first as the opposing head coach. His previous trips came as the defensive coordinator at Auburn (a 45-20 Georgia win in 2007) and LSU (a 45-16 Georgia win in 2004).
Muschamp wasn’t interested in going very far down memory lane when asked about his return to the stadium this week.
“I had a great experience as a player at the University of Georgia. It’s an outstanding school, but that’s been a long time ago,” he said. “They are playing with a lot better players than me now, I can tell you that.”
The Bulldogs are ranked No. 2 in the country this week and are favored to beat the Gamecocks by 25 points. Their average margin of victory in the SEC this season is 32 points.
“Yeah, they are playing extremely well,” Goff said of his former team. “You have to give Kirby a lot of credit. He’s doing a great job. And also to some degree, you have to give a little bit of credit to Mark Richt because Mark left him some pretty good players. Kirby’s done a great job of getting his players all on the same page and singing with the same sheet of music, and that’s hard to do when you come in and the guys have been recruited by someone else and they have a lot of feelings for that guy. It makes it tough, but Kirby has obviously got them all on the same page.”
Goff has watched South Carolina three times on TV this year, he said.
“They are really good on defense,” he said. “They have struggled a little on offense, but I like their quarterback. I think he’s done a really good job, and I think they’ve gotten better and better each week.”
This will be the second meeting between Muschamp and Smart. Georgia won 28-14 last year in Williams-Brice Stadium. Asked how he thought Muschamp might try to attack his former team this year, Goff said he had no idea.
“If I did know, I probably wouldn’t say,” he said.