Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Calling All Dawgs

This is the week we both dread and anticipate.

The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Or, as it’s been for the few, the proud, the intoxicated Dawg fans (maybe “few” is the wrong word here), The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party Followed By A Disappointing Loss To Florida.

One time—ONE time—in the past fourteen meetings between the two schools has UGA left the field as victors. I was a senior in High School then, and for the first couple of years at UGA the win seemed like recent history. Now more than a year removed from graduating UGA, it seems like ancient history…and folks this cannot stand any longer.

On Monday Florida fired head coach Ron Zook, which means for the rest of this week we will have to sit and listen to the “incredibly high standards” of football at Florida, and how “great” a job it is. Longtime UGA fans know what a massive load of Fulmer those statements are. Prior to the arrival of the Son of Satan, aka Spurrier, aka “that guy who wears a visor to hide his circumcision scars,” the Mighty (sic) Gators could only claim winning the SEC while on probation. Now tell a Gator fan comfortable with his school’s mythology this and he’ll either claim amnesia prior to 1990 (the most common reaction) or they will trot out quotes (which may or may not have been written) about how people “always” said that “Florida was a sleeping giant.” Sleeping giant…really…Rip Van Winkle didn’t sleep as long as Florida. Now they’re reeling and it’s up to us to knock them back to their mediocre ways.

It’s going to take a big shift in attitude—from all of us as fans—for this to happen. It’s easy to sit back after a loss like last year’s and say “wow, the team mentally isn’t in this,” but we seem to forget that most of us as Dawg fans aren’t “in” the game either.

In 2002 when the Dawgs had the ball with one last shot at scoring a TD, how many people believed it would happen? From where I was watching, far more were waiting for a dropped ball or an interception, or an incomplete pass than there were folks believing another 92-yd touchdown pass followed by “some property getting destroyed tonight.”

And last year, after the Dawgs took the lead, it seemed like almost everyone around me was convinced that the Gators would fly down the field and win it. Too many of us expected the worst, and then complained (or in many cases—mine included—adopted a post game strategy of “drink til you think we’ve won.”)

In Tuesday’s Athens-Banner Herald they interviewed Damon Evans and there’s a comparison made between the Red Sox finally beating the Yankees and the Bulldogs finally winning one in Jacksonville. The comparison they miss is that prior to, well the end of Game 7, most of Red Sox Nation was waiting on a choke to finally happen. A mental hex, or “curse”, is just as much a product of the fans as the players. So for UGA to win, we all—ALL of us—have to BELIEVE UGA will win.

So now I’m asking all of y’all to believe with me (imagine reading this last part with the cheesy sounds of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” if it helps you focus):

That UGA will win on Saturday.

That Florida will get whipped up and down the field, its offensive players punished and its defensive players beaten like rented mules (Note to anyone in PETA, it’s just an expression).

That though Florida says its back is against the wall for this game, that UGA players are even more motivated to win. They know they can’t go out and lose not only to the team that lost to Mississippi State, but to a team with a fired coach. They know UGA will not finish 0-for-Zook.

Believe with them that UGA will not go 0-for-Zook.

That when UGA needs a big play, we will get it. Again and again and again.

That on Saturday, October 30th, 2004, there will be some “property destroyed” that night.

That for once, the Saturday Night at The Landing will be packed with happy Bulldog fans and only a few brave (or really, really, really drunk) jean-short clad, mullet-sporting, booger-eating Florida fans.

And finally, believe that UGA’s dominating win on Saturday is the start of string of dominating wins, no matter who the Gators get to coach them next year—even if it’s the Devil himself. Believe that we’ve got a New Breed of Bulldog that can make even the evil one constantly throw his visor.

It’s Great

To Be

A Gator Hater

Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Dawgs! Sic ‘em! WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!

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