Mississippi State 83, Georgia 68

It isn't a mystery why yesterday's game day open thread didn't generate any comments:  Georgia lost to Missississippi State on the road, 83-68.  

The Red and Black led by five at the break, but M.S.U. erased a 37-32 halftime deficit, outscoring Georgia 16-0 to open the second half and putting up 51 points to the Bulldogs' 31 over the course of the last 20 minutes.  

The loss drops the 'Dawgs to 15-12 overall and 5-9 in S.E.C. play.  Georgia is tied with South Carolina for last place in the Eastern Division.  

The loss comes at a particularly bad time.  As noted by Paul Westerdawg, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Chip Towers recently published a piece on Dennis Felton's fashion sense.  

Evidently, Coach Felton is a self-described "clothes horse" who wears $700 shoes and Cary Mitchell suits.  The Georgia men's basketball coach is "into the weight of the fabric" and "chooses his colors well."  

Florida's Billy Donovan says, "I just try to match more than anything else."  (Coach Donovan's Gators are 22-5.)  

Coach Felton, on the other hand, claims:  "I'm always looking for red-and-black ties, but I have a hard time finding ones I like.  It's not a good color for me.  I'm just real particular about what I wear."  

When Paul Westerdawg called Chip Towers's article to the blogosphere's attention, I agreed with the Georgia Sports Blog's take on the subject.  

I think Dennis Felton is a good basketball coach and I'm glad he's working for my alma mater.  Given the absolute shambles in which J*m H*rr*ck left the Bulldog basketball program, I'm willing to give Coach Felton adequate time in which to rebuild what---let's face it---has never been more than a sporadically successful team.  

I will grant the point that Coach Felton didn't choose to have Chip Towers's article written in the first place.  Maybe being a fashion plate is just part of Coach Felton's personality and a reporter just happened to have picked up on that fact.  

Even conceding that probability, however, two aspects of this irk me to no end.  

First of all, these sorts of "human interest" articles should only appear during the offseason.  While recruiting is going on, reporters write about recruiting.  While preseason practice is going on, reporters write about preseason practice.  The coach's wardrobe should only come up in the dead time in which nothing concerned with the sport itself is taking place.  

There's only one reason why the Journal-Constitution would write about the Georgia basketball coach's attire in late February and we all know what that reason is.  

It's because there isn't an upcoming N.C.A.A. tournament bid about which to write.  If the Bulldogs were contenders, Chip Towers would be writing about conference tournament prospects and regions and seeding and suchlike.  

Because there is no cause to write about such matters, Chip Towers has nothing better to write about than the fact that Dennis Felton "prefers a Giorgio Armani cut in earth tones" with "working buttons on the sleeves."  

Secondly, the whole color scheme thing bothers me.  Coach Felton doesn't think red and black are good colors for him.  He seldom wears ties featuring the school colors and he had his office redone in neutral colors.  

Color schemes are a big thing in intercollegiate athletics.  Nowhere is that more true than at the University of Georgia.  

Historically, our team has been referred to by its color scheme ("Red and Black") longer than by its mascot ("Bulldogs").  The school newspaper is named for the sports teams' color scheme.  The band is named after the color of its coats.  Georgia fans' cars sport bumper stickers declaring that we bleed red and black.  Our second most famous football cheer (behind only "How 'bout them 'Dawgs!") makes reference to the color of our student-athletes' pants.  

In my lifetime, four different men have served as the Bulldogs' head football coach and they sported a wide variety of sideline attire, from the somewhat formal Vince Dooley to the sometimes slovenly Ray Goff to the comfortable yet classy Mark Richt.  All of them, however, wore the school colors for every single game.  

Being a head coach at Georgia and eschewing red and black is like being president of the United States and shying away from red, white, and blue.  Any doubt that the 'Dawgs had gotten the right man when they hired Mark Richt was dispelled when his wife and children showed up at the press conference wearing red and black.  

There's nothing in the world wrong with a man wanting to dress his best.  I am no reader of Gentleman's Quarterly, but even I have been known to say to my wife during E.S.P.N.'s N.F.L. pregame show, "Do you see what Sterling Sharpe is wearing?  Do you think I could pull off a look like that?"  (She almost never answered that question; she just looked at me funny, to the point where I quit asking about Sterling Sharpe and instead waited until "The West Wing" was on, when I would ask, "Do you see what Leo is wearing?  Do you think I could pull off a look like that?")  

When he's standing at courtside, though, Dennis Felton needs to look like a Georgia Bulldog basketball coach.  Whatever we may think of Tennessee's Bruce Pearl, at least you can tell which team he's coaching when the camera pans his way.  (The Volunteers, by the way, are 20-5 overall and 11-3 in S.E.C. play.)  

I want Dennis Felton to succeed at Georgia.  Tubby Smith's departure from Athens ended the short-lived era during which Stegeman Coliseum was known affectionately as "The Tub."  I am looking forward to the day when the success of Dennis's 'Dawgs causes us to rechristen "The Tub" by dubbing it "The Den."  

Obviously, that will happen when the Georgia men's basketball team makes as much a habit of winning as the Georgia women's basketball team.  In the meantime, though, I want to see our head basketball coach looking like he's our head basketball coach.  

I see little difference between Coach Felton's disinclination to wear the school colors and Charles Knapp's wrongheaded decision to replace the words "Lustrat House" with "President's Office" during his tenure as the University's presiding officer.  

In each instance, a man to whom the preservation and furtherance of the time-honored tradition of the oldest state-chartered university in the United States were entrusted acted like he was at the University of Georgia but he was not of the University of Georgia.  

We're proud to have Dennis Felton in the Classic City.  It would be a good P.R. move if he would offer some outward indication that he's proud to be there.  

Go 'Dawgs!  

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