Sorry I kind of disappeared off the face of the earth for the past five days. I had this great post all put together in preparation for the Georgia-Georgia Tech game, full of hilarious jokes and top-quality snark about how Tech has only secured one non-referee-aided win over Georgia in the last 15 years, how Tech students have less of a social life on an entire weekend in the middle of Atlanta than Georgia kids do on a Tuesday night in their supposed "cow college," how most Tech "gentlemen" have so little experience with female genitalia that they probably couldn't pick a vagina out of a lineup, etc. etc. etc. Had it all ready to go, yet thanks to the Reggie Ball-like consistency of my parents' Internet connection and a bitchy attitude on Blogger's part over the last few days, I couldn't do anything with it, and it will forever remain unread. Well, except for the parts I'm basically rehashing here.
Georgia Tech: Bringing sexy back.
There are many ways to measure whom you think your biggest rival is, and each way may result in a different answer, but if you go by the "If your team was going to go 1-11 this season, whom would you want the one win to come against" question, then my most hated personal rival is Georgia Tech. If for no other reason than out of necessity, I no longer get nearly as worked up about losses to Florida as I used to; and while I may detest certain things about, say, Tennessee or Auburn, there's no shame in losing to either of those teams, at least not lately. A loss to Georgia Tech, however, is shame-mandatory, for the simple reason that Georgia has pretty clearly established itself as the premier college program in the state, Georgia Tech has all but curled up in a ball and settled down in its role of second banana, and there is no reason for Georgia fans to accept anything that would throw that relationship out of whack.
I know that sounds cocky, and I don't want to be interpreted as saying that I take wins over Tech for granted, or that anyone should; there's a difference between assuming a win and expecting one. I personally don't indulge in the former, but I won't apologize for the latter, nor will I apologize for really enjoying getting to wear the daddy pants in this particular rivalry. They're stylish, they fit nicely, our collective ass looks great in them. One win by Tech wouldn't automatically relinquish possession of said pants to the Yellow Jackets -- not when they've got a five-year losing streak to live down -- but it would certainly make life less pleasant for people like me. The most frequently invoked metaphor for Georgia Tech, at least in Bulldog circles, is that of the annoying little brother, the one who wants to be considered on the same level as you despite not really having done anything to earn it, the one who tries to compensate for his little-man-ness by trying to get your goat and taunting you about his supposed superiority in this, that, or the other, only to get smacked down every time. The only problem with that is that if you let little bro win even once, you're never going to hear the end of it. So it's best to make sure that never happens. Tech needs to be reminded that we're Georgia, they're Georgia Tech, each has a place in the world, and theirs just isn't as good as ours.
We should be doing this every year, and no, it will never get old.
That, for me at least, is why this year's UGA-GT game in particular was such a big deal to me. Sure, Georgia has had a season that at various times could be described as "godawful," while Tech has enjoyed very consistent success with only a couple of hiccups. If it were anybody else -- Florida, Tennessee, Auburn -- I could shrug and say, "Well, we'll just try to keep it close and get 'em next year," but not with Tech. Not with the prospect of 365 days of trash-talking from Tech fans acting like they'd just won the fucking Rose Bowl. I lived through that seven years ago, and after maybe the most ill-gotten "win" ever written into the Tech record books, no less; I didn't even want to think about what they'd act like if they actually won one fair and square.
Fortunately, I didn't have to find out, because the Bulldogs did exactly what I prayed they'd do for the past two weeks: Do almost exactly the same stuff against Tech that they did against Auburn. The duplication wasn't entirely successful -- our offense this time around was satisfactory as opposed to murderous, and whereas Auburn was a blowout almost from our very first possession, this was a nailbiter right down to the last 30 seconds -- but it was close enough. No picks from Stafford? Check. Receivers actually catching passes? Check. Winning the turnover battle? Check.
A pass defense that straight-up annihilated the opposition? Check, check, double-check, triple-check, however many checks you want to give 'em. Paul Oliver went up against Calvin Johnson, supposedly the most otherworldly playmaker in the country, and sent him out with tight pants and lipstick; Tech's supposedly sneaky-underrated #2, James Johnson, got owned so hard that Georgia can now take him down to TitleMax in the event they need some extra spending cash, and will probably spend the rest of his life reacting to the words "Tra Battle" the way Vietnam vets react to the sound of cars backfiring or helicopters flying overhead. Georgia's pass defense, who up until a few weeks ago hadn't been a major presence anywhere except Erik Ainge's highlight reel, has now held the last two quarterbacks it's faced to a combined 10-of-34 for 77 yards, no touchdowns, and six picks. The NCAA calls that a quarterback rating of 13.14, which is also the amount, in dollars, of the salary Reggie Ball can expect to command as an NFL free agent.
Reggie Ball: pwn3d. (And if you think you have to be 10 years old to think there's something funny about "Ball sacked," you're wrong.)
Reggie Ball . . . Reggie Ball, Reggie Ball, Reggie Ball. Every Bulldog fan's favorite Yellow Jacket had yet another hell of a game Saturday night, coughing up three game-killing turnovers and finishing his career 0-for-4-ever against UGA. From the moment they arrived back at their respective tailgates after the game, Georgia fans were talking about a ceremony to retire his jersey; even Tech fans were awarding Game Ball sole ownership of this latest loss. Look, I know there are those who will say it's unfair to pick on a twentysomething kid for what he does on the football field, and plenty of Tech fans whose opinions I actually respect, like Nathan Fowler, have told me that Ball is a fiery competitor who, while not the most naturally talented player out there (obviously), has passion and heart that can match up with anybody who's ever played the game. But I don't feel the least bit bad about taking immense glee in his winless record against Georgia, because I can't think of a single player over the last few years who has done more trash-talking with less to back it up than Reggie Ball. Maybe not even Casey Clausen, the mere sight of whom has nearly brought me to vomit on more than one occasion.
Ball may have passion and heart in spades, but I think all the accolades about his spirit and his drive to win have allowed him to get a big head and presume that people will overlook the fact that he is one of the most classless, obnoxious players in all of college football. Reggie started his career against Georgia in 2003 with a five-yard scramble on fourth-and-7 that he punctuated with a cheap swing taken at a Georgia trainer on the sideline (when he was yanked from the game after that, it was supposedly because of a "concussion," according to Tech's people). He continued it a year later by blaming the Sanford Stadium scoreboard operators when he lost track of the downs and ended the Jackets' last-gasp drive by throwing the ball away on fourth-and-long. And he capped it off by taking a swing at Georgia DE Quentin Moses after the penultimate play of Tech's last drive Saturday night (naturally, Moses's retaliation was what got penalized); Georgia DT Ray Gant reported that Ball was "definitely rattled, especially toward the end of the game. He was pushing people, kicking people on the bottom of piles." Praise him for his drive and competitive fire if you want, but Reggie Ball needs to start channeling some of that energy into completing passes (to his own team members) instead of taking cheap shots at guys like Quentin Moses who could very easily squeeze him into a ball the size of a gobstopper and swallow him whole; until he does, Reggie will continue to be a no-class shitstain who deserves every embarrassment that's been heaped upon him throughout his 0-4 string against the Dawgs. And if he takes the field in Jacksonville this Saturday with the sound of 92,746 Georgia fans chanting "Reg-gie, Reg-gie, Reg-gie" still ringing in his ears, he'll have come by that honestly, too.
Yet in spite of that, and in spite of my general rule that Georgia Tech is not to be rooted for in any sport under any circumstance, there's a part of me that actually hopes they beat Wake Forest for the ACC title this weekend. If Tech beats the Demon Deacons, and Florida beats Arkansas for the SEC crown, then Georgia will have capped off what was once thought to be a lost season by beating two ranked teams, one of which would be the only team to have beaten Florida this season, the other of which would be the ACC champion. Nobody in Bulldog Nation is even going to remember Vandy or Kentucky after that -- not until next year, when a more-experienced Matt Stafford and his more-experienced team come to rain avenging hell down on anyone and everyone who got in their way in '06.
So congratulations to Mark Richt, the Bulldogs, and especially rhe seniors for refusing to lay down this year. Along with our tailgate hosts Josh, DAve, "Pasqua" and "Stanicek," Jmac, and many others, y'all made this one of the most memorable nights in my Georgia-football-consuming career.
What's up next? A Peach Bowl (nope, not gonna call it the "Chick-fil-A Bowl," sorry) date with the 10-2 Virginia Tech Hokies? Don't know yet, but I can say with utter certainty that if that scenario were to play out, given the high population of VT alums/fans on both sides of my family, it would result in a vicious, rage-filled smack-o-rama that would reverberate throughout the Gillett extended family for generations. Stay tuned.
But I'll worry about that later. For now, it's time to stand up and remind Tech Nation: Even at your best point in maybe the past decade, you still couldn't beat us. This is why we're Georgia and you're Georgia Tech. Go home and tell your children, so that they can be saved from the same kind of disappointment.
And have fun in Jacksonville.
F$#! Tommy Tuberville and his thumb -- we workin' on the other hand, baby.
Give the po' man a break:
· For some reason ESPN has taken to referring to the weekend before Thanksgiving as "Rivalry Week," and I can only presume they do so on the basis of exactly two hard-core traditional rivalries: Ohio State-Michigan and Auburn-Alabama. Aside from those two, the "rivalries" on display last weekend were pretty slim pickin's, unless you were enthralled by, say, West Virginia beating Pittsburgh senseless in the "Backyard Brawl" or the two mules of Washington and Washington State fighting over the turnip that the Apple Cup has become. (Full disclosure, yes, I watched both of those games, but more out of boredom than anything else. If "Heroes" was on Thursday night, I probably wouldn't have messed with WVU-Pitt at all. Who needs Pat White meowing like a wounded and/or developmentally stunted panther when you can save the cheerleader and/or the world?)
Show of hands: How may of you felt just a little icky when you realized the girl who plays the cheerleader a) was only 17 and b) had played the assistant coach's daughter in "Remember the Titans"?
Let's roll with the realness for a second: Doesn't the weekend after Thanksgiving really hold the bigger claim to the name "Rivalry Week"? You've got the visceral hatefest of Georgia-Georgia Tech, of course, but also Florida-Florida State, which is still heated for partisans of those schools even if the rivalry has become a shadow of its former self; Clemson-South Carolina, which makes the current Shiite-Sunni battle in Iraq look like Friday Night Sissy Fights; the Egg Bowl, which is always fun even when the two teams suck, as was the case this year; USC-Notre Dame; Texas-Texas A&M; and of course Virginia-Virginia Tech, which reduces my family to a frothing, gelatinous mass of hate and recrimination for four hours each November.
· Had that last one actually been televised in the Columbus DMA this year, and had Virginia actually scored on the Hokies, it would've also allowed observers to witness my mom doing the full Wa-Hoo-Wa Dance with everything but pompoms, followed by a booming rendition of the Good Ol' Song (complete with " . . . but not too gay" following the "where all is bright and gay" line, as I'm told is the style in C-ville these days). Even so, you still would
ve gotten to see my dad setting new world records for progressing through all five stages of the Kübler-Ross Model as the Cavaliers got ground into the turf, but that's neither here nor there.
· Instead, we got to watch Clemson DT Jock McKissic, 6'6", 295 (and an Opelika, Ala., product, say word!), snatching a Blake Mitchell pass out of the air deep in South Carolina territory and running 82 yards for a touchdown. Actually, "running" isn't quite accurate; it was more "chugging." By the time he got to the opposite end zone he didn't even have enough energy to celebrate it. Clemson still lost, but that still had to be the most entertaining non-UGA-GT-related thing I saw all weekend.
· OK, I have to tell one of the jokes I was going to tell in the lost Friday post, though of course it's been updated to reflect Saturday's happenings:
A Georgia fan and a Tech fan are watching the UGA-GT game at the Jocks 'n' Jills on 10th Street in Midtown Atlanta. The Tech fan has a little Chihuahua with him, and when Tech scores in the first half, the dog turns three backflips, stands on its hind legs, and manages to bark the entire "Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech" song before dropping down on all fours again. When Tech scores again in the fourth quarter, the dog goes through the entire routine once more.
"That's a pretty impressive trick," the Georgia fan says. "Does he do that every time Tech scores?"
"Sure does," says the dog's owner.
"Wow. Then what will he do if Tech actually beats Georgia?"
"I don't know," the Tech fan says. "I've only had him