It's Saturday in Athens

It's Saturday in Athens

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!


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