It's Saturday in Athens

It's Saturday in Athens

Thursday, October 14, 2010

SEC fans should have more conference pride than ever before.

"SEC! SEC! SEC! SEC!" If your team does not play in the SEC, this well-known, widely heard chant drives you crazy. As it should. Because we, as a conference, are simply better than you and your conference. Get over it. It's just the way it is, has been, and will be for quite a while. There is no harder conference than the SEC to win. Your schedule is comprised of 8 rivalry games, aka your "Conference Schedule". Then tack on your geographic, traditional rival over Thanksgiving. There are no cupcakes in the SEC. Vandy? Ole Miss? Even UGA this year? Sure, those teams do not have the record to claim National importance, but they can beat any team in the SEC without warning. It's the way it is every year. You NEVER look 2 weeks ahead when playing in the SEC. It's a battle in the trenches week in and week out. So with these facts laid out before you, maybe you understand why when an SEC team goes up against a non-SEC opponent, the SEC team has 11 other fanbases supporting them, all chanting the three letters loved by many, and hated by most.

The chant has a lot to do with th fact the last four BCS Champions have come from the SEC. But it truly does not rely on this fact, nor does it require it to continue ringing in the ears of all.

With Alabama losing to South Carolina last weekend, the chances of a BCS National Champion coming out of the SEC hit a major hurdle. It's not out of the question, yet, but is as unguaranteed as it has been in the past 5 seasons.

The Crimson Tide dropped from #1 in the USA Today Coaches Poll (the one that has BCS implecations) all the way down to #8. No longer the highest ranked team in the SEC, since Auburn comes in at #7. Auburn is still undefeated, and on paper, may be the SEC's best shot at the BCS. But they have played a less than intriguing schedule thus far, and still have the meat and potatoes to come. I can almost assure you Auburn will lose more than 1 game before it's all said and done.

Florida? They are proving to the Country that Tim Tebow meant more to their program than they wanted to admit this past offseason. They have already lost 2 games, have a tougher schedule ahead than they have already played, and have fallen to #22 in the Coaches Poll. You can almost safely say their shot at the BCS has a fork sticking out of their spine. Reloaded? Looks more like rebuilding to me.

But here is where I want to make a point about SEC pride. The media has been in bed with Alabama and Florida the past 2 seasons. And they've had good reason. Both teams may have been able to compete with some NFL teams over their stretches. But to have those two at the top, and breeze through their schedules for multiple seasons was good for them, but bad for the conference. I heard way too many times the media saying things to the effect of "Alabama, Florida, and the other 10" when grading the SEC as a whole.
This year, the SEC is absolutely in a Royal-Rumble with one another. There are NO guarantees this year. Does anybody feel 100% confident that Alabama will beat Ole Miss this week, or Florida will beat Mississippi State? No. And that is AWESOME!

So enjoy this year as an SEC fan, and hope and pray that this trend continues. If it does, when your team goes on a run and perhaps finishes the season undefeated, you can say it happened when the SEC was up as a whole, not just a couple of us. I promise you this season will give the SEC more integrity as a tough conference, and not as a conference playing for 3rd place while the King and Queen feast all year.

There is a great, great chance we will not see a SEC team in Tempe, AZ for the Title Game this January. But that does not mean we will not retain the title as the strongest, toughest, most enviable conference out there. So raise your voices, pump your fist, and say it with me... "SEC! SEC! SEC! SEC!"

Friday, September 3, 2010

The calm before the storm

Thanks to my friend Alaina, who works the luxury booths in Sanford Stadium, for taking this photo tonight of "The calm before the storm". Just hours away now!

What's the delay, NCAA??

On the eve of the much anticipated opening kickoff, Dawg fans still don't know if they will see A.J. Green's #8 streaking the sidelines tomorrow. And that is not acceptable.

Back in early July, the college football world was introduced to "AgentGate" A lavish party held sometime earlier this summer, in Miami, FL, by an agent seeking to gain the future business of some talented NCAA football players. It is perfectly okay for a student athlete to talk with an agent, but not okay for said student athlete to accept, in any form, gifts or special treatment involving the purchasing of ANYTHING for them from an agent. The questionable items that arouse from the party, is who funded the traveling to and from the party, and what exactly they were given while there.

Nobody even knows for sure who was there. Some players have admitted their presence, and others only stand accused, while they deny their presence. Green falls into the accused/deny category. While God knows who accused him of being there, Green has blatantly said he was not only not there, but has never even been to Miami. These allegations brought with them the dreaded phone call to Athens from the NCAA, telling them they were going to snoop around a little and see what they can find out.

Green claims to have been in his hometown of Summerville, SC, and also claims to have pictures of he and family that are date and time stamped proving he was there. The allegations also drew a Tweet from former Bulldog's WR Michael Moore saying "These accusations of A.J. are hillarious. That country boy has never been to Miami!"  

This was 2 months ago. And still no word. The NCAA has already deemed Alabama's DE Marcell Dareus ineligible for the first 2 games of the season for his roll in AgentGate. South Carolina's TE Weslye Saunders, who has not denied being in Miami, is currently suspended from all team activities for breaking team rules. But no word on him from the NCAA. South Carolina played their first game last night. What's the delay?

So a big question for Georgia Coach Mark Richt tomorrow, is "do I believe A.J., and play him in full confidence that nothing will come from the investigation?" or "do I sit A.J. just in case something comes of it, and he is ruled ineligible and we have to go back and forfeit the game he played in?"

Georgia should win the game tomorrow against Louisiana-Layfayette regardless of A.J.'s playing status. But that doesn't matter. This is an issue that needs to be resolved, in one way or another, NOW. Not tomorrow, not a few days from now, not next week, but NOW. If the NCAA already has enough information on AgentGate to lay down punishment on some, they need to let everybody in question know. This is very unfair to any program in waiting, not being able to lay out their full game plan for their opening games and being able to find their groove for the upcoming conference schedules.

So it's on you now, NCAA. If you aren't ready to announce, come out and say it. Stop leaving these teams and players in the dark, and forcing them to make the decisions to play or not on their own. It's simply not right.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

UGA/UF twice?? No!! OSU/MICH twice?? Shame on you Big 10.

As a Dawg fan, how would you like to make the annual trip to Jacksonville, whoop up on the Gators, only to have their fans saying "no biggie, we'll return the favor in a few weeks"....... I thought so.

Essentially, this is what the Big 10 has created for one of the most storied rivalries in our great game, Ohio State vs. Michigan.

Nobody was more thrilled to see the addition of Nebraska to the Big 10 this offseason than me. This gave the Big 10 their 12th team (confusing, I know), FINALLY allowing them to create a Conference Championship game. I don't think there is a soul outside a 40 mile radius of Columbus, OH who wasn't sick of watching Ohio State win the conference, and get to sit down and rest while most other conferences were hosting Championship Games. This was giving OSU about a month and a half off and a cakewalk into a big-time BCS Bowl. Thank the good Lord, now they will have to earn their way in, playing the first week of December.

But the Big 10 did Ohio State, Michigan and the rest of college football a major injustice yesterday, with the announcement of the two created divisions, who's champions will face off in the Conference Championship game. OSU and Mich were NOT put together.

Nothing could have dilluted "The Game" (as dubbed by many fans of both teams) more. Now when the two schools meet every November, they have to know that this could just be the first time they meet this season.

Extreme rivalries in college football, like those of UGA/UF, OSU/MICH and ALA/AUB are a major part of what makes college football so special. There is nothing like the feeling you get the morning of playing your most hated foe. Unique to college football, the teams truly do not like one another. They are playing for the unbreakable pride of their respective schools, not to be outdone by the other. In the NFL, when rivals play, such as Dallas and Washington, Green Bay and Minnesota or Atlanta and New Orleans, you see the players fraternizing on the field before the game, and shaking each other's hands during. They likely take one another out to dinner after the game since they rarely get to see one another. You won't see this on the college gridiron, without a doubt making rivalries much more special.

Yet, these college rivalries I speak of, should only come around once a year. Bragging rights and Border Wars are such a wonderful part of ther game. I could not imagine going the whole offseason bickering with Florida fans, saying "yeah you beat us the first game, but we got you the next". It just doesn't work like that. After seeing my team leave it all on the field, and raising our helmets in victory, that's it. 364 days of bragging rights coming my way! Not 35 days. Not 21 days.....

You made a big mistake Big 10. You should have taken a note from the SEC, when they expanded and broke into divisions in 1992. I am pretty sure the thought of splitting Georgia and Florida never existed. Now for Ohio State and Michigan fans, the morning of "The Game", can only be looked at as a potential scouting trip to see what they may bring your way in a couple weeks, when they could possibly play again. Fans of both teams, you should be shaking your heads this morning. You were just robbed of something very, very special.

GO DAWGS!!! 2 days til we tee it up between the hedges!!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Hello. My Name is Russ. And I'm a Damn Good Dog"

On April 28th, 1997, Sports Illustrated released it's Top 50 Jock Schools. Gracing the cover was none other than Uga V. In the issue, SI declared Uga V the Country's Best Mascot. Said SI, "If you can't appreciate the swaggering gait and Churchillian physiognomy of Uga V, the Bulldogs' bulldog, you must be a cat lover."

In 1956 a second year UGA student named Sonny Seiler brought his white English Bulldog to the first game of the year vs. the Florida State Seminoles. Former UGA Sports Information Director, Dan McGill, took note, and suggested to then football coach Wally Butts that Seiler have his dog attend all the games as the official team mascot. Thus the greatest mascot in all of sports was born.

Since 1956 we have had 7 Ugas. Each has been the son of his predecessor. Each have been hand picked by Sonny at his home in Savannah, Ga. The Uga legacy has even been made into a documentary, called "Damn Good Dog"

On November 19th, 2009 the University mourned the sudden death of Uga VII. It was deemed a heart attack. The following Saturday Uga's doghouse was left empty, displaying a wreath. This night we also witnessed an epic 2nd half meltdown, turning the ball over 4 times in a loss to the much lesser Kentucky Wildcats. The following week, we traveled to Atlanta to play an overachieving Georgia Tech team, then ranked #7 in the Nation at 10-1. Just before the game, Russ was introduced to Bulldawg Nation.......

Russ is the 5 year old half-brother of Uga VII. He has a brown ear, and much of his back and little wrinkled, furry butt sports some brown as well. He is just as adorable as any of the Uga mascots.

In his debut, Russ witnessed a 30-24 upset of the Bugs from North Ave, and traveled with UGA to Shreveport, La to take on the Aggies of Texas A&M in the Independence Bowl. Russ was once again victorious in a 44-20 stomping of the Big XII school. Russ was also present two weeks ago for UGA's fan picture day held in Sanford Stadium every year. Embraced by Bulldawg Nation, and loved by all, shouldn't Russ continue his reign as the Country's Best Mascot?

Not according to Sonny.

Seiler’s goal is to find a mascot who can handle sideline duties for 8 to 10 years. At 5 years old, Russ is too old to become a permanent replacement. Seiler has recently claimed that there are a few candidates who have the potential to be UGA VIII.

“We’ve got several puppies that we can consider that are the offspring of the Uga line,” Seiler said. “You have to have at least two months before you can get a feel for the dog’s stature, his bone structure,”

Seiler hopes to announce a permanent UGA by the homecoming game against Vandy on Oct. 16th. Until then, Russ will bring his brown butt to every game. He will set up shop under the Sanford Bridge prior to the game to accomodate the swarm of fans trying to get a glimpse or picture of him. He will roam the sidelines, defending his dog house from the Cajuns, Hogs and Vols who wish to come and take it. While Russ knows his time of reign is numbered, he plans to put on his red sweater every week, and sit atop the mascot kingdom, continuing to make the University proud. Because Russ, the Temporary Mascot, is a Damn Good Dog!!

3 Days til we tee it up between the hedges!!! GO DAWGS!!!!!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Dawg's best friend in 2010? A Beaver, and a Turkey?

Does anybody remember 2004? NASA put a spacecraft on the Red Planet, Martha Stewart was sent to big-girl prison, Janet Jackson was dealing with a "wardrobe malfunction" on a grand stage, Facebook was still a collection of school mug shots your mother kept..... and most alarmingly, an SEC football team, the Auburn Tigers, went undefeated and did not even have the chance to play for a National Championship!!

If the Dawgs do not want to come face to face with a similar fate, they need to reach deep into the animal kingdom and befriend the Oregon State Beavers and the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Why the Beavers? Those big-toothed critters are hands-down the most important team for anybody with a sense of credibility in the NCAA. Ranked #24 in the AP poll, the Beavers open their season Saturday playing #6 TCU at the house that Jerry Jones built in Dallas. This will be the ONLY time TCU plays a ranked opponent all season. If TCU wins this game, they can pretty much sit back, watch the top teams knock each other off, and slip in the back door to play for the BCS Championship. Where is the fun in that? Every other conference out there has to beat up on each other, and overcome grueling road schedules to be considered worthy of the top. Man up TCU, and join a conference worthy of note, or schedule some teams in your own back yard, like Texas or Oklahoma to prove you are even worthy of a mention in my top 25. PLEASE Beavers, knock down these Horned Frogs of TCU not only for the Dawgs, but for the rest of the country.

Why the Turkeys? I mean Hokies.... (for those that have never know, a "Hokie" is defined by in the dictionary as an "emasculated turkey". Soak that in for a second Va Tech fans) Anyway, the Hokies, ranked #10 in the AP poll, open their season Monday night playing #3 Boise State in Washington, DC. After this game, the only other ranked team Boise State will play the rest of the season is.... those Beavers of Oregon State, on Sept 25th. So we are looking at a very similar scenario with Boise State. If they find a way to squeak by Virginia Tech, and likely beat Oregon State later on, they too can sit back, watch the top teams beat each other up, and slip through the back door to play in the BCS Championship. GROSS!!!

I do not think TCU and Boise State will play each other for the BCS. I believe either Texas or Ohio State will skate through their schedule undefeated, and get one of the spots in the game.

So if, and I do mean IF, the Dawgs surprise everybody and run the table this year (and trust me, it's not as unlikely as Kirk Herbstreit or Lee Corso would make you think), and neither the Beaver from Oregon State or the Emasculated Turkey from Virgina Tech do a little bit to help us out, we are staring at the exact same fate as those 2004 Auburn Tigers. We would likely play in the Sugar Bowl, against either TCU or Boise State, whoop them like we did Hawaii in 2007, and have NOTHING to show for an undefeated season.

So from this Dawg fan, I will scream "GO BEAVERS" and "GO EMASCULATED TURKEYS" during the month of September!

4 days til we tee it up between the hedges!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's (Almost) Saturday in Athens!!!

Four words sum up a passion shared by so many. "It's Saturday in Athens".

In 5 short days, 92,000+ Dawg fans, students and alumni will fill  the hallowed grounds of Sanford Stadium. Every year, somewhere around late May, I raise a glass to toast the day that signifies 100 days til kickoff. From that day on, you could ask me how many days and I will be able to spit out the answer without hesitation. The countdown gains serious anticipation after the Fourth of July, when you know you are within 2 months. Then in mid-July, we get a seriously needed fix, when coaches from all 12 SEC schools gather in Hoover, AL, at the Wingate Hotel to discuss the upcoming season at SEC Media Days. We  tune in to hours of coverage to hear coaches state the obvious. "We plan to attack the ball more this year", "I expect great play from our Offensive Line", "If we execute, we will be a good ball club". Every coach is trained (none more than Mark Richt) to tell their respective fanbases exactly what they want to hear, no matter how irrelevant and obvious it may be. Yet we listen, and we get excited about what we hear, because we simply cannot wait!

All of a sudden, August is here, and we get to read practice reports. Actual news of how our boys are coming together! Less speculating how they will do, and more knowing. We get to read stats from scrimmages, and break down how our QBs and RBs are looking based on 2 hours of situational contact drills. The next thing we know, it's mid-August, and the countdown is getting low. 25, 15, 10 days to go. At this point we have read everything we can possibly get our hands on to hold us over until the main dish. We cleared the magazine rack at the grocery store of every College Football Preview, Special Edition magazine or newspaper insert that has tempted our wallets. Sleep comes a little tougher. The guys on ESPN College Football Live are starting to make predictions and have news of substance. It's SO close....

In 3 days,  a holiday is truly upon us. 36 teams (4 of which are ranked) will be kicking off the start to their seasons. I will be parked in front of ESPN bursting with enthusiasm, and enjoying the theme song of ESPN's College Football coverage. This year, like last, we get to watch South Carolina, and Darth Visor take on Southern Miss. This wil be a good chance to check out UGA's first real test coming up on September 11th in Columbia, SC.

In 5 days, that countdown wil hit ZERO. Cars sporting their "G" flags will fill 316E heading to the promise land of Athens, GA. Red tents with that beautiful longated "G" will erect all over the world's most beautiful campus. The smell of hamburgers and hotdogs will fill the air, and Bulldawgs young and old will be enjoying the fellowship of one another in the perfect setting. College Gameday will be on everybody's TV sets across campus, just taking in the pregame show for the full slate of LIVE college football the day has to offer. Fans will congregate under the Sanford Bridge to take in the Dawg Walk. The stadium will start to fill about an hour before the 12:21pm kickoff, and the Lone Trumpeter will raise their horn in the Southwest corner of the stadium, sending a chill down the spine of any true dawg fan within earshot. This is not just an ordinary Saturday......... It's Saturday in Athens!!!!!

*This is the first blog entry for an experimental blog I plan on keeping up throughout the season. And by season, I mean 365 days a year, if you are anything like me. Please check back daily, and tell your friends if they want to read about the Dawgs, from a Dawg, then this is the place.