It's Saturday in Athens

It's Saturday in Athens

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Voice of God

I feel I would be an irresponsible blogger if I failed to write a piece on the passing of Larry Munson. But I am having trouble finding the words to jumble together which wouldn't mirror the sentiments already written by so many similar to myself.

I need not tell you that Dawg Nation lost one of the unmovable members of the Mount Rushmore of UGA last night. I need not tell you that emotions are running very high throughout the state of Georgia, and all of the college football world. All of those things have been written more today than perhaps ever before.

I heard a phrase when I was younger, which I tend to mentally reference in certain situations. "Do not cry because it is over. Smile because it happened". I can think of no situation or person more worthy of this phrase than Larry Munson, being called home.

When I heard the news last night, an overwhelming warmth came over me, knowing that we had been so fortunate for the Munson family to share their son, father, husband, and brother with the world in the manor in which they did. Larry's life was one which touched so many people, that while mourning is a certain step in the process, a celebration is so much more appropriate.

So like you, I let my fingers type in multiple searches on YouTube last night, letting the voice of God re-live those moments which have been cemented into the minds and hearts of Dawg Nation. Throughout today I have soaked in all of the links and articles written about Larry, and smiled while absorbing each one.

I am unsure what I can write here, that you have not already been pleasantly inundated with today. All I can offer you is the confirmation that we share the same thoughts and feelings about the wonderful life of Larry Munson. It makes me giddy to think that as I write this, Larry Munson and Lewis Grizzard are likely sitting together, swapping stories and catching up on time missed. What I would give to get my hands on that piece of audio.

I look forward to the tributes which are due, and well deserved. I would like to make the trip to Sanford Stadium whenever an official memorial is organized.

I would like to extend an idea to the new radio voice of the Dawgs, Scott Howard, to allow the opening kickoff, as well as the first offensive play this Saturday, to go "radio silent", as we all know Larry will take care of it for us. If any of my readers know Scott, please pass this idea along to him for me.

We all have our envisions of what the voice of God will sound like. And I believe the millions of family members who make up Dawg Nation can agree, that the voice has just returned to the appropriate place.

Rest peacefully, Larry Munson. You are gone, but will NEVER be forgotten.

Go Dawgs.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Todd Grantham has found the joy in Mudville

Does anybody remember which team struck out Mighty Casey?

Mudville, known for a short time as "Athens"
I do. It was the 2008 version of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Starting on January 2nd, 2008 (the day after UGA destroyed Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl), the morale and joy steaming out of Athens was at a Herschel-like level. With a dominating defensive showing against what was suppose to be the best offensive attack the Dawgs have seen in years from the Warriors, Dawg Nation felt pretty giddy about what the next fall would have in store. Throw in the fact that we had a more-than-proven, dominating quarterback and running back tandem coming back, and you couldn't keep hats or car stickers with the red "G" on the shelves.

The 2007 season was one of fun. Mark Richt uncharacteristically showed that he could light a fire under a team like none other. They danced in the endzone in Jacksonville, and painted Athens black on a memorable night in November. The fanbase and the team was having fun, and winning as a result of it.

The summer of 2008 brought with it an unwelcome guest to Athens: the injury bug. Like ducks in a row, it seemed every day we would learn of another ACL being torn, or a bone being snapped. But all was well.... we still had our offensive threats healthy, so panic refused to set in.

The season started as well as it could have, except for yet more injuries to starting lineman, and the media darling Trojans of USCw taking over our #1 spot despite us winning in convincing fashion. Then came the night we were suppose to confirm to the world what we felt: that we were unstoppable.

September 27th, 2008: Tide 41, Dawgs 30. And it was NOT as close as it looks.

The Dawgs went on to win 10 games that year. But nobody had fun doing it. We had blown our chance. The 18 season ending injuries we accumulated from summer through fall proved to be too much burden to lay on the shoulders of a star quarterback and running back.

Then came the dreaded post season press conference. Mathew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno decided they were ready for the brighter lights of the NFL. And just like that, Athens turned into Mudville. And I need not have to remind you, that there was no joy in Mudville, for Mighty Casey had just struck out.

So for the 2009 and 2010 season, Dawg Nation tried to find whatever joy they could, still hungover form the premature drunk of the successes desired, but never delivered by those 2008 Dawgs. But conference loss after conference loss, and embarrassing arrest after embarrassing arrest began to take its toll. The media conjured up the "Mark Richt hot seat" obsession, and fans began to turn on the program and each other. If it were possible, more mud had been slung all over Mudville.

New age Mighty Casey

But this year, Mighty Casey seems to be quietly resurrecting out by the arch and between the hedges. And Mighty Casey happens to have another name, going by Todd Grantham.

Grantham seems to have solved one of the most frustrating facets of our SEC minded fans, and delivered back to us a Junkyard Dawg defense. Now ranking 5th in the nation in overall defense, Dawg Nation has rekindled their joy, and feel confident going into battle with anybody. A championship is one single game away. The buzz accumulating from Dalton to Savannah, and Lake Hartwell to Columbus is finally back on a positive note.

Mudville was never going to concede all its pride and traditions for anybody, no matter what some of the local and national media wanted you to think. Mudville may have had a few sleepless nights over the last years, and those nights seem to remain sleepless, but for reasons coming from the other end of the spectrum... excitement!

This Saturday Mighty Casey steps back up to the plate, attempting to seek retribution for the huge strikeout in 2008. Hit a homerun on this day, and he gets the chance to do it again in the Georgia Dome on the first Saturday in December, with the nation watching.

Even the best case scenario of winning out this season, finding a way to win in the Dome, and winning the Sugar bowl will not yield with it a national championship. However, doing so will create a buzz worthy of comparison to the spring and summer of 2008 for next season. And Mighty Casey has the chance to give this to us starting this Saturday.

Though it may go against everything you thought you knew and believed.... there IS joy in Mudville, and it seems to be going nowhere anytime soon!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Mark Richt shows his class in "blowout" of Auburn

Urban Meyer would have called 2 timeouts in the final minute. Steve Spurrier would have openly promoted the "revenge factor". Nick Saban would have called pass plays throughout the 4th quarter.

Could have been SO MUCH worse
Not Mark Richt. Throughout the entire week leading up to this year's installment of the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry, despite countless media attempts to have him talk about it, you would have never known that there was bottled up anger in the Dawgs after the fashion in which Auburn won last year. If I need to remind you of the snide, classless, and dirty manor in which Auburn spanked our Dawgs on the plains last year, then you have stumbled across the wrong blog.

So after the most dominate 1st half of football played against a "worthy" SEC opponent since the 2007 version of the DSOR (original blackout game), and the scoreboard reading 35-7, there was plenty of chatter in my section, and I am sure your's, about the want and desire to hang a solid 70 on the war-tigers. I am sure there was plenty of this raw emotion and feeling amongst some of the upper-classmen in the locker room as well.

But instead, the Dawgs defense continued to do its thing, while the offense kept the ball on the ground and only put up 10 points in the 2nd half. I believe I read a stat that our final 24 or 25 offensive plays were of the rushing variety.

Was this a sign of respect to Gene Chizik, who danced and visually attempted to pump up his players and fans last year when that despicable ruckus broke out in the waning minutes of the game? I sincerely doubt it.

Taming the,
Instead, this was Mark Richt's way of showing the Auburn coach, players, and their fans that he is just simply above the shenanigans which so many others are willing to partake in. Coach Richt knew that he had sent a message to Coach Chizik through the form of a solidly played, respectable football game. And the fact that is was a total and utter domination of the eagles tigers sure didn't hurt.

Take a look around college football at the moment, and soak in the types of behaviors being exhibited by coaches who have seen success. Would you trade Coach Richt for the chance at being an ESPN media darling, and the promotion that comes along with it, if it meant being in the situation Penn State is in right now? Do you want every weekly press conference Richt conducts to constantly provide bulletin board material for the upcoming opponent's locker room? How would you like to see Richt slamming down his headset and slobbering all over the officials faces during a tirade? How would you like for a blowout win like the one we saw on Saturday, be overshadowed the entire next week with talk of how classless he was by hanging 70 points when it was not necessary?

The little red devil on one of your shoulders sure does provide a tempting sales pitch at times, trying to get you to do things which you know will be instantly satisfying, but bring with it lingering regrets. And one thing Coach Richt sure seems to have mastered, is listening to that white angel on his opposing shoulder instead........ well, except this time ------>  Georgia/florida 2007  (click link for good memories)

Consider yourselves lucky Auburn fans.... You know good and well as I, that this could have, and should have been a WHOLE LOT worse!!

And one more thing..... There seems to be a missing item report filed for a "hotseat", that once belonged to Coach Richt. If you see it, ignore it, as it is no longer a relevant conversation piece. Welcome home, Mark. Welcome home!!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Tomorrow epitomises what Dawg Nation lives for.

For a great amount of us, UGA football inhabits a large percentage of our daily thoughts. In the south, especially, college football is not just a sport which takes place in the fall, but rather a way of life and religion. We plan our family outings, weddings, and even delay a birthday party by a day or two depending on who and where the Dawgs are playing on those glorious fall Saturdays. It often makes me sad when I do the math, and realize that only 3.3% of a calendar year is a gameday And only half of those take place in the Classic City. And in that depressingly low statistic, only one (or two if we are lucky) of those gamedays brings with it the magnitude of what a Saturday in the south is truly about. Tomorrow in Athens, happens to be one of those days. 

Tomorrow is suppose to be sunny with highs in the low to mid 60's. For those of you living in a tunnel, or are just simply blind, northeast Georgia is experiencing  one of the most glorious fall foliages I can remember, thanks in part to summer drought-like conditions and a colder than normal October. If there is one place in the state to witness the beauty and majesty of the season, outside of the mountains, Athens is that place.

A common scene around the state
Every fan of every sport longs and yearns for the games which have championship implications riding on them. Such a slim number of those fans ever get that opportunity. For Dawg fans, tomorrow's Athens sunrise brings with it the most important day in the past six seasons. For the first time since 2005, a game between the hedges is being played in November, with UGA being in control of its own destiny in the SEC Eastern race. And there is no better way to play that game than to do so in the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry fashion, with Auburn paying visit.

Even though all the Dawgs need to do is win in order to keep control, the day will be made even better with the fact that help may be handed to us in a game taking place before Brook Whitmire declares on the Sanford Stadium speakers that "It's Saturday in Athens". Even if it does require a win by the treacherous alligators of north central Florida, that game will be an added spice to an already buzzworthy day. So hopefully you, or somebody you know has a tailgate equipped with a satellite TV, so you can keep abreast on the wonderful sport which drives our lives.

For those who will not be blessed with mobile television waves, please do not be shy and poke your head into a downtown Athens bar, and open up your wallet. While the downtown restaurant and bar industry thrives just fine on the (over 21.. *cough, cough) student body year round, the six Saturdays a year when 100K+ migrate in is an added bonus, helping drive the places which possess and cradle so many of our memories. So get in there and enjoy a little bit of the early games, while the anticipation in your stomach slowly takes wings and grows restless.

There is simply nowhere else in this world I would rather be tomorrow than Athens, Ga. We are so truly blessed as a fanbase to have such a magnificent place of congregation, even if it is so seldom throughout the year. So few towns and campuses across the country are as fortunate as the Dawg Nation to be faced with a day like the one which stares at us tomorrow. The Classic City is a siren in our heads year round, and tomorrow her seductive melody will be calling our hearts more than ever, leading us to a great battle between the hedges, like none we have bared witness to in years. Answer her call, and come join your brethren in the greatest place on earth, on one of the finest days imaginable.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cheer for the Gators????????

It goes against everything I stand for as a UGA Dawg.

My hatred for Florida is actually older than my undying love for UGA. See, when I was a child in elementary school back in the early 90's, Florida State was one of the suave, chic, young, and "swaggered" (as the kids would say these days) teams out there. So being a sports junkie as long as I can remember, I took a liking to the Seminoles, who took over all the national broadcasts during this confused time in my life (remember, Goff was in Athens and there just wasn't much to get excited about coming out of the Classic City). So being a Seminole "fan", I DESPISED the alligators from Gainsville. I actually remember crying whenever the alligators would beat the Noles.

It wasn't until around Middle School, at age 12 or so, when I began to realize that the players on the University of Georgia football team were indeed MY home team, representing everything I knew and loved about the great state of Georgia. So throughout my transition to eventually become as big a Dawg backer and supporter this world has known, the one constant was the fact that the alligators remained the team of Satan, who as far as I am concerned, sympathize with General Tecumseh Sherman's idea to burn the state of Georgia into an oblivion.

Look at Sherman's uniform.... told you!
All of a sudden, this Saturday, the basis of all things I know are being challenged, even if it is for the better of my Dawgs. I doubt I need to explain to you that if the alligators beat South Carolina this Saturday morning, the Dawgs will be playing for the East Championship immediately following. And by damned, I think the University, its fans, and its loyal supporters deserve this very scenario after all we have gone through the last several years.

Before somebody points it out, I am fully aware that if South Carolina beats the alligators, we can still beat Auburn and Kentucky and win the East. But I cannot think of a more special day Between the Hedges than clinching our division against the team which we have salivated for revenge against over the last 365 long days. I cannot think of a better buzz in Sanford Stadium amongst our players and our loyalists than a 3:30pm, peak of a beautiful southern fall kickoff, knowing how big a win would be for our program. And in order to make this dream scenario a realistic one.... well..... one thing MUST happen......

So I plan on utilizing my time before kickoff in Athens by pumping about $20 of my own personal money stash into some lucky downtown bar while watching the Cocks and alligators play football. And I want nothing more than for my dream Saturday scenario to play out as I want it to......

But I 100% REFUSE to utter the words. So I am going to let Ms. Corrine Brown say it for me......

GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Atlanta media WILL NOT ruin my week; And a mysteriously missing Israel Troupe

This is how I've felt since Saturday around 7:30pm
Between school and wedding planning, I haven't even had the opportunity to write a good, fun-filled article about the Dawgs whooping up on the alligators. But it seems now that that would just be inappropriate, according to many. 

And by many, I mean the Atlanta media, who from my car ride to school Monday morning, were already attempting to discredit the UGA victory because we won "ugly". And now they are so disgruntled at the fact that they were unable to break the story of our 3 tailbacks being suspended, that they have reduced themselves to conspiracy theorists.

We are all aware of the circumstances by now. Rumors buzzed Dawg Nation last Friday about a possible suspension of somebody. Isaiah Crowell and others play on Saturday in the most important game of the last few seasons. Weekly press conference occurs Tuesday with Richt being mum on tailback's statuses. Twenty minutes after press conference, press release issued regarding Crowell, Thomas, and Malcolm's suspensions for New Mexico State game this Saturday.

So obviously since nobody was suspended for the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, it is a proven fact that UGA and Mark Richt hid something isn't it?!.... Or was nobody suspended??

Israel Troupe was mysteriously absent in Jax
Does anybody find it strange that Israel Troupe didn't even make the trip to Jacksonville? On Friday, October 28th, when the rest of the team was arriving at their hotel in St. Augustine, Troupe tweeted out "I'm in Buckhead at my boy's house". The news wasn't issued from UGA until nearly kickoff Saturday that Troupe was "hurt" and didn't make the trip. While I have no reason not to believe this, the overall trend this season  is for the Dawgs to stay extremely mum on any and all disciplinary actions, unlike in recent years. It was only a few weeks ago when  we had several UGA players tweeting about their runs in the rain at 5:30am. And that, for once, wasn't the top story on the sports page. I have heard from more than one source that the reason we never saw Ray Drew hit the field until the Coastal Carolina game was for disciplinary reasons, unbeknownst to any and all media. And who on earth heard a thing before (or after for that matter) Isaiah Crowell did not see the field at Vanderbilt until the first play of the 2nd quarter?? Why should the Israel Troupe situation be any different? Telling the media he is "hurt" is a way to avoid a plethora of unwanted questions on a day when your team needs to be focused the most.

I have read and heard more than a few times that drug tests in the NCAA are administered and sent to a lab, with results coming back 4-5 days later. Apparently the tests administered to our tailbacks took place the Thursday before Jacksonville, with results returning yesterday (Tuesday). Whether Mark Richt knew about it before or after the press conference is his business. He was in absolutely NO WAY obligated to bring it up during, and the media around the Atlanta area is just sorely pissed off that their viewer/readerships found out from other sources before theirs. Hence the witch hunt of phantom information which could lead to bigger bumps in Athens, giving the media the opportunity they so merely missed.

This should be an extremely joyful week in the Atlanta and Athens areas for Dawg fans. We just beat the alligators, who have been the biggest thorn in our tails since the USFL taking Herschel early. It doesn't matter how down they were, or how ugly our win was... we beat them!!! And I do not know a single Dawg fan who isn't giddy about that. This week is our homecoming game, which will take place on a sunny afternoon during one of the most beautiful fall seasons I can remember as a lifetime Georgian. We shouldn't have to stress a thing  about or during the game itself. We should be chins to the sky after the final seconds tick off the Sanford Stadium scoreboard, as we head home to be Razorback (not Petrino) fans for a night, as a win against South Carolina puts us in sole possession of first place in the East. We should be able to enjoy flipping back and forth with that game, to get a preview of the challenging task ahead with Bama and LSU going at it.

But the Atlanta media refuses to let that happen for us. Instead they want blood. They cannot stand the fact that we as a fanbase have been giddy since Saturday around 7:30pm. Most of them are from the north, and don't understand the southern religion of college football beyond the angry callers whom they love to antagonize.
Going to be a TOUGH week at practice, Isaiah

So until I hear directly from Greg McGarity or Mark Richt that some shady antics took place, I have ABSOLUTELY zero reason to believe anything other than what they have already said, which is that the drug tests were administered Thursday, and results back on Tuesday.

Isaiah, Carlton, Ken...... I hope you puke your guts out during practice this week. You deserve it. You are all boneheads. You all need to learn from this, and understand what your coach means when he says "it will make you better men". And when you prove this week and next that you are indeed worthy and capable of doing things the "Georgia Way", I will be in Sanford Stadium along with 92,745 of my best friends screaming "GO DAWGS!!!!!"

Fans, enjoy the week!!! WE DESERVE IT!!!