For me, this raised a question which quickly became a quandary. As fans primarily of our team but also of our league, we want the Bulldogs to be dominant, but we also want to be able to boast that the S.E.C. is the top conference in the country. We need our strength of schedule to be stout, but we also want to make it through the season unscathed. The question, then, is unavoidable:
I have run down the list of Georgia’s S.E.C. rivals and provided one man’s attempt to address this dilemma. As always, your mileage may vary:
Vanderbilt: I want the Commodores to be just good enough to be in the running for their sixth win late in the season. They should be good enough to be noteworthy occasionally but not good enough to be dangerous consistently. I like to have Vandy constantly bordering on bowl eligibility, but no more.
Kentucky: The Wildcats should be just good enough to get Ashley Judd to football games (so we can get regular camera shots of her in stands) but not so good that the U.K. faithful haven’t already mentally moved on to basketball season by the time we play the ‘Cats.
Arkansas: I'm perfectly O.K. with the Hogs being heinous. Come to think of it, I'm also all right with sending the Razorbacks home to their old Southwest Conference stomping grounds. We could make that a part of a trade to send Baylor to Conference USA, Arkansas to the Big 12, Clemson to the S.E.C., South Florida to the A.C.C., and Penn State to the Big East, all of which are more natural fits, and which would reduce the Big Ten’s membership to a number that makes the league’s name make sense.
South Carolina: My preference would be for the Gamecocks to languish in perpetual mediocrity with occasional realistic aspirations to eight or nine wins. You know, pretty much like the last 115 years or so.
Ole Miss: The Rebels deserve to be in perennial contention for the Independence Bowl and regular flirtation with the Liberty Bowl, with a Cotton Bowl trip every five or six years.
Mississippi State: I don't really care how good Mississippi State is. You don't really care how good the Western Division Bulldogs are, either. Heck, they don't really care how good they are. No one really cares how good they are. I just want them not to be good enough to win a conference title. Why? Because, every time Mississippi State wins an S.E.C. title, the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. Seriously, that is a direct historical one-to-one correlation with a 100 per cent accuracy rate. Need proof? Fine. Years Mississippi State won the S.E.C.: 1941. Years the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor: 1941. Years Mississippi State didn’t win the S.E.C.: every other year ever. Years the Japanese didn’t bomb Pearl Harbor: every other year ever. It’s a foolproof predictor, like the rooster crowing and the sun rising. This is science, people!
You can give me that "post hoc, ergo propter hoc" stuff all you like, but, if M.S.U. ever wins the West again, I’m staying the heck out of Hawaii!
Louisiana State: Remember, from about 2002 to 2005, when Georgia and L.S.U. were the top two teams in the league and it looked like five of the next ten S.E.C. championship games were going to be between the Bulldogs and the Bayou Bengals, like we were going to be to the 21st century what Alabama and Florida were to the 1990s? Yeah, let's go back to that.
Tennessee: As perennial rivals go, I dislike the Volunteers the least. Even during the interminable losing streak during the 1990s, their fans seemed O.K. to me, and I could never work up a good frothing hatred for Phillip Fulmer. I'm not going to lie to you, though: I'd like Lane Kiffin to fall as flat on his face as it is possible for a coach to fall, for much the same reason that I wanted to see Brad Pitt shoot himself at the end of "Seven." Well, that, and the fact that Brad Pitt not dying made the last line of the movie not make a lick of sense, but, anyway. . . .
Auburn: I want Auburn to suck. I want Auburn to suck perpetually, continuously, in all places, at all times, and in all things. I want Auburn to suck with the strength of a thousand vacuum cleaners being sucked into a thousand whirlpools which in turn are being sucked into a thousand black holes, all while sucking simultaneously. The only thing I want Auburn to be good at is utter and absolute metaphysical suckitude, and, even then, I want Georgia Tech to suck slightly more, just so Auburn can’t be the best at anything, even sucking.
Florida: I want the Gators to be just good enough for it to matter when we beat them. Basically, I want Florida to be better than during the Ron Zook era but not as good as during the Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer eras. Somewhere in the Charley Pell/Galen Hall range would do nicely.
That’s how it breaks down for me, but I fully expect some of my fellow denizens of Bulldog Nation see it differently and I know for a certainty that fans of other S.E.C. schools take a divergent view. Let me know what you think in the comments below.