By Dennis Miller
Editor's note: Last summer I did a series of previews of the teams on Georgia's 2007 schedule, but I won't be doing that again this year for two reasons. One, I'm highly superstitious and thus am always loath to make predictions like that simply from a karmic standpoint; two, I'm just lazy. Fortunately, I'm plugged in with a pretty extensive network of celebrities, and I managed to get a whole slew of guest columnists on board to do these previews for me. I've lined up a different celebrity to do each team, starting with Georgia Southern and going through the end of the regular season, and they'll be appearing every few days for the next month or so. Please make our guest writers feel welcome, and feel free to debate them in the comments. Thanks!
Wow, that Michigan-Appalachian State game last year was really something, wasn't it? That upset made Boise State over Oklahoma look like the German blitzkrieg through France in 1940. And boy, you could've heard a pin drop in Michigan Stadium when it was over -- I haven't seen that many bummed-out people since John Kerry's acceptance speech at the last Democratic convention. The Wolverine's stock proceeded to drop faster than M. Night Shyamalan's, to the point where beating a 3-9 Notre Dame team felt like hitting 21 at the Bellagio.
But let's face it, that upset was a long time coming. Those top Division I-AA programs aren't content to play the Festus Haggen to DI-A's Matt Dillon anymore -- their promo videos may have all the cutting-edge appeal of a Pat Boone album of Celine Dion covers, but they're recruiting better, their facilities are improving, and with a few guys even getting high-profile NFL jobs, I-AA is no longer looked upon as the Starbucks barista of college football, the mildly satisfying but fairly dead-end job where you're just biding your time until your master's degree in Toltec studies convinces some Fortune 500 corporation to give you a junior-VP slot and the keys to a leased Lexus. Good luck on that one, cha-cha, by the way.
So this brings us to Georgia Southern. Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but Georgia fans, if you're walking into this one expecting to dispatch the Eagles as easily as Pavarotti tearing into a Quizno's French dip, you're asking for a bigger shock than the one Thomas Dewey got on the morning of November 3, 1948. Let's don't forget that GSU actually beat the team that knocked off the mighty Wolverines in their own house last year; if they can accomplish that, they're not feeling any contractual obligation to shiver in their Adidas at the mere sight of you guys.
Let's hop inside the wayback machine and have a look-see at what happened the last time Georgia Southern moseyed into Sanford Stadium. Georgia had a roster packed with NFL draft picks and the QB who would go on to become the winningest D-IA quarterback of all time; Southern had a quarterback named "Chaz" and a triple-option offense that hasn't been in vogue since Barry Switzer was combing coke and underage girls out of the Oklahoma athletic dorms. And yet the Dawgs only led 13-7 at halftime, a score only slightly less embarrassing than the questions Jim Harrick put on his players' final exams. Georgia eventually won, but not before GSU's option attack got the Bulldog defense to overcommit more times than Liz Taylor.
Four years later, GSU has a new coach and a completely different offensive scheme, but they're still as dangerous as that Mexican peyote you bought out of the back of some guy's VW Microbus on the way home from Spring Break. They scored 36 points per game last year and rebounded from 3-8 to a winning season; that alone got Chris Hatcher talked up as a head-coaching candidate at Georgia Tech, so apparently somebody in I-A thinks the guy's ready for The Show. Even if those same somebodies once placed faith in Chan Gailey, whose playcalling was more conservative than an ice-cream social at the Heritage Foundation.
Now look, none of this means I'm prepared yet to strap on my Lyndon LaRouche signature straightjacket and plunk down five dimes on a Georgia Southern upset. Georgia's got enough name-brand players to stock an entire all-SEC team and still have some guys left over to carry Mikey Adams to his car, and they've also got a coach so coolheaded he makes Urban Meyer look like Richard Simmons. If they play this one to the best of their abilities, they'll be nursing a 30-point lead before the marching band can even start warming up for their halftime Foreigner medley.
But if they don't, this one's going to be uglier and more frustrating than the last two Matrix movies, and wouldn't exactly set a pleasant tone for a season in which the Dawgs are hoping to finally join Florida and LSU at the big-boy table of SEC teams that have won national titles in the Internet age. Mark Richt may have to pull a Harry Blackstone and yank another one of those motivational rabbits out of his hat, because the last time his guys played a I-AA team, they came out of the gate with all the fire and intensity of Garrison Keillor after a fistful of quaaludes.
It's as simple as this, Bulldogs: Take these guys seriously, play to your talent level, and you'll be on top of a Nixon-over-McGovern-sized blowout. Fuck around, though, and you'll get a bigger surprise than the one Sonny Corleone got on the Long Island Expressway. Buckle those chinstraps, adjust your jocks, and remember the immortal words of Alex Baldwin's character in Glengarry Glen Ross: "Coffee is for closers."
The 1997 Michigan team began the season with the kind of momentum that eventually dropped a crystal football into their beefy little hands; the 2007 version of that team left their season opener wearing the same expression Marcia Clark had upon hearing the words "not guilty." Time to decide which one of those you want to be. Capisce?
Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.
Please pay attention to me.
-- Dennis Miller is one of America's most prolific comedians, having served notable stints on "Saturday Night Live" (1985-1991), "Dennis Miller Live" (1994-2002), and "Monday Night Football" (2000-2002), as well as a freelance position as a spokesperson for the Bush administration for the last five years. Though no longer appearing regularly on television, his radio program, "The Dennis Miller Show," can currently be barely tolerated weekdays from 1 to 4 p.m.
Coming up next: The last man you ever want to come face-to-face with shares his tale of a shocking encounter with the Central Michigan Chippewas.