It goes without saying that I am a huge fan of Paul Westerdawg.
Like Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff, Paul unquestionably occupies the top spot on the pyramid here in The Dawgosphere. Somewhat closer to home, it is no exaggeration to say that, were it not for Paul, Dawg Sports wouldn't exist.
Paul Westerdawg was the first Georgia test pilot to break the blog barrier.
Nevertheless, Bulldog Nation is a vast and varied place within which we may find much diversity of views . . . and so it is that Paul Westerdawg and I sometimes find ourselves in disagreement.
This is one of those times.
Paul has offered a compelling case stating why Bulldog fans should pull for Notre Dame against Georgia Tech. Most---though not all---of Paul's readers agreed.
I think we should root for Georgia Tech . . . or, more precisely, I think we should root against Notre Dame, which will require us to cheer for the Yellow Jackets against the Fighting Irish.
I can't bring myself to feel hatred . . . only pity.
I should state from the outset that I do not believe any amount of rooting is going to make any difference whatsoever. The Golden Domers' strength is in their passing game and the Golden Tornado's weakness is in its secondary. I expect Notre Dame to light up Georgia Tech like a Christmas tree.
Nevertheless, I believe we in Bulldog Nation should do what is right, even when it requires us occasionally to take up the cause of our North Avenue neighbors. Here are the reasons why I will be cheering against the Irish rather than against the Jackets:
1. The Auburn Effect. Remember how the 2003 Plainsmen were going to win the national championship? Well, they didn't . . . and, in fact, they didn't even come close. Why? Because they lost their first game and went into a tailspin, finishing an embarrassing 8-5. Something similar happened to Alabama in 2000, when the Red Elephants were ranked No. 3, lost their opener to U.C.L.A., and went 3-8.
If Notre Dame, the most overrated team in the land, stumbles straight out of the gate, the Irish may go 5-7 . . . much as they did in Tyrone Willingham's second season, after that coach had posted a 10-3 record in his first year.
His first season was better than Charlie Weis's. Deal with it, Irish fans. (Photograph from E.S.P.N.)
2. A Georgia Tech win over Notre Dame would hurt the Golden Domers without helping the Ramblin' Wreck. Yes, every Yellow Jacket fan you ran across would be absolutely insufferable if the Golden Tornado defeated the Fighting Irish, but so what? They crowed after beating Auburn in 2003 . . . but they still lost to Georgia. They really let us have it after beating Auburn and Miami last year . . . but they still lost to Georgia.
The Yellow Jackets always win one that makes you raise your eyebrows, then they turn right around and lose to a North Carolina, an N.C. State, or a Wake Forest. Let's let them get their inevitable upset out of their system so we can put it behind us and enjoy their plummet back to mediocrity. If Notre Dame gets knocked down a peg but Georgia Tech doesn't gain anything in the long run, that's a win-win scenario for Georgia fans.
3. Good things happen for Georgia when Georgia Tech upends Notre Dame. Orson Swindle had nothing but good things to say about September 16, 2006, but let us not forget the majestic nature of November 8, 1980 . . . the day Georgia beat Florida on the most famous play in Bulldog football history and Georgia Tech tied Notre Dame, 3-3, in Atlanta.
I don't know about you, but I'm all for having Larry break another chair.
The 'Dawgs had climbed steadily in the polls that year, as the Red and Black continued to win and the teams ranked ahead of them fell away. On September 22, the Bulldogs were ranked 10th, but subsequent losses by Oklahoma to Stanford, by Ohio State to U.C.L.A., by Nebraska to Florida State, by Pittsburgh to Florida State, by Texas to S.M.U., by Alabama to Mississippi State, and by U.C.L.A. to Arizona (plus a Southern California tie with Oregon along the way) helped Georgia rise to No. 2 in the November 3 poll, behind only Notre Dame.
When the Fighting Irish were tied by lowly Georgia Tech and the Bulldogs beat 20th-ranked Florida to claim their second straight victory over a ranked opponent, the Red and Black took over the No. 1 ranking, which they would not thereafter relinquish.
Mark Richt is confident of Georgia's ability to win in 2006. Dawg Sports readers are confident of Georgia's ability to win in 2006. If Georgia Tech bumps off Notre Dame, who knows? Maybe history will repeat itself.
In sum, I believe Notre Dame's loss will not be Georgia Tech's gain, but it may be Georgia's. I know it goes against a 'Dawg man's nature to root for Georgia Tech, but a fan has to do what a fan has to do.
It is tempting to treat this as a "meteor game," but there's no need to take it that far. As one of Paul's readers pointed out, neither the Irish nor the Jackets will have pretty girls with whom to celebrate or commiserate, and, well . . .
. . . Uma Thurman ain't wearing a gold costume with "G.T." or "N.D." on it. Whichever way this one goes, it'll be great to be a Bulldog on Saturday night.