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Gators And Jean Shorts: The Tampa Tribune Investigates

Posted Oct 27, 2006 by Aaron Knox

Updated Nov 1, 2006 at 10:25 PM

GAINESVILLE – When I originally envisioned this project more than two years ago, I saw a 12-part series that would take me from Gainesville to Athens, Ga., from the fashion houses of Milan to the far-flung sweatshop that supplies Jordache. Much to my chagrin, I learned there is no line in the Trib’s travel budget that reads “Investigate why Georgia fans chant ‘Gators wear jean shorts’: $25,000.”

So, lacking the proper resources to produce an investigation that would nail down my first Pulitzer, I settled for the next best thing. Like our Commander in Chief, I used The Google. That led me to a Web site called I fired off an e-mail to the site’s creator, who called me back within minutes. I asked if he had any idea who I might call to discover the origin of the chant.

“I can tell you exactly where it started,” Corey Bailey said.

Wow, that was easy.

Bailey, a 31-year-old information technology consultant from Atlanta, claims the words were first uttered outside Alltel Stadium on Nov. 1, 1997 by fellow Georgia student Kevin Davis. Bailey said he and Davis were tailgating before the game when a Florida fan – clad in a Gators jersey and denim shorts – began calling them “Gator bait” and chomping at them with his hands. Davis, possibly more offended by the man’s crime against fashion than by his taunts, could take no more. He cried out, “Gators wear jean shorts!”

Davis’ fellow nattily attired Bulldogs, knowing they couldn’t reference a recent Georgia victory against Florida, joined him. Much like a slow clap in a 1980s movie, the chant spread throughout the red and black masses that day.

“As we went into the stands,” Davis said, “hundreds of people were chanting it.”

Davis doesn’t regret pointing out the hideousness of the fan’s attire, though his outing as the chant’s creator could make life more difficult at work. Davis, who attended Stetson law school upon his graduation from Georgia, now works as an attorney in St. Petersburg. For the most part, his bosses are Florida fans.

Now that he’s lived in the Sunshine State for five years, Davis said he understands why Florida fans might wear something so heinous.

“Nothing ever goes out of style in Florida,” Davis said.

But some things should.

The top three fashion crimes a man can commit are:
3. Jean shorts.
2. White jeans with a belt that includes the wearer’s name, a rebel flag, rhinestones or any combination of the three.
1. Pleated jean shorts.

So “Gators wear jean shorts” isn’t only an effective taunt for fans whose team can’t seem to beat the Gators, it’s also a public-service announcement. Davis and Bailey pointed out that Georgia students have a fairly strict dress code for games (dresses for the ladies, khakis and polos or buttondown shirts for men). At Alabama, male students wear ties and coeds look as if they stepped off the runway in Paris.

But it’s hot in Florida, so Gators fans get something of a pass. Besides, Georgia fans don’t know everything when it comes to the clothing business. After the 1997 game – when quarterback Mike Bobo led the Dawgs to a 37-17 win and a legendary taunt was born – Bailey returned to Athens and made “Gators wear jean shorts” T-shirts for his fraternity brothers.

“What I should have done,” Bailey said, “was bring them down to Jacksonville, because I could have made a lot of money.”

There’s still time for that. Hopefully Davis will get a cut.

Davis said he’ll attend The World’s Most Gigantic Solar-Powered Libation Celebration this weekend. More than likely, he’ll overhear some Georgia fan – too embarrassed to discuss the fact that the Dawgs have lost 14 of 16 to the Gators – point out a few fashion-backward Florida fans. And Davis can smile, knowing he did humanity a favor nine years ago when he created a chant that may someday rid the world of the scourge of jean shorts.

“It’s probably the most monumental thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Davis said.


Reader Comments

Por (Jeff Goodis) on October 27, 2006 (Suggest removal)

Kevin’s employment has always been tenuous at best.  We took a chance on the boy even though we knew he came from a substandard institution like UGA.  I figured it was better than some ACC (Almost Community College) program.  It seems now my hesitation has been confirmed.

While I will never defend jeanshorts, I don’t believe that Kevin is in a position to annoint himself as a fashionista.  I hold that position in the office.

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Por (Mike Stancil) on October 27, 2006 (Suggest removal)

How sad is for Georgia fans to be reduced to fashion smack?  As one of the many non-jean short wearing fans of the Florida Gators, I can only shake my head in disbelief when I see some UGA student with a black shirt and red pants on tell other people how to dress.  (does this mean I have been reduced to fashion smack?  Oh well…)

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Por (Bill Wise) on October 27, 2006 (Suggest removal)

I live in Georgia and I seen plenty of Bulldogs in jeans shorts.

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Por (Ron Fults) on October 28, 2006 (Suggest removal)

That’s the best those Dawgs can come up with? I guess losing 14 out of 16 will do that to you. Anyways, I’ll be proudly wearing my jean shorts AND my orange & blue Hawaiian Gator shirt today as we make it 15 out of 17 and get that much closer to our next SEC title

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Por (Ryan Shamus) on October 29, 2006 (Suggest removal)

You seem to have left out a few other fashion “don’ts”. 

1. Braided belts with anything.
2. Socks and sandals

I would hope that these would not need to be said because it’s obvious, but if one person reads this and lights fire to their jean shorts, braided belt, and clip sandals then I will consider it a success.

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Por (Tim McAdams) on October 29, 2006 (Suggest removal)

It might be sad that Georgia fans are supposedly reduced to fashion cracks, but this Bulldog gets a little smile when the Tampa Tribune does a story on it.  Sure seems like jean shorts are a fly in the gators emotional vaseline.  I proudly wear my GWJS t-shirt on a regular basis.

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Por (Keith Kemp) on October 30, 2006 (Suggest removal)

I just don’t understand how or why anyone would credit Georgia fans for having any fashion sense to begin with….they wear those hideous red pants, beat up polo shirts and dirty sneakers and top the outfit off with a what was once white UGA (“The Game” brand)hat that now looks like it spent a year being run over on 1-75 by semi-trucks! So, who is taking them seriously anyways! However,if saying that the Gators wear jean shorts makes them feel a little better, i guess thats alright because we appreciate them spending money in our state and promising us a fun weekend in Jacksonville. Every year the poor folks come down to Jacksonville and go home losers….so whatever they need to soften the blow is only fair. Go GATORS!

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Por (Lee Beckmann) on December 19, 2006 (Suggest removal)

I have known Kevin for a few years now and can attest that he does have his many faults (being a UGA fan is not one of them.)  I am very fortunate that I have never seen him wear jeans shorts, but would not call him a fashionista even on his best day.

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