My wife and I got to go to the UGA/AU game yesterday with some Auburn friends. Even as a lifelong Dawg, this was my first game ever going to the enemy camp. I grew up going to home games with my grandfather but experiencing a game as an outsider is something I've never been able to do.
Before this season even started I was really worried about this game; I knew the chances of us beating AU for a fifth straight time were going to be slim. As the season wore on, though, my hopes for the game actually improved. I saw a good UGA team and I saw a really good AU team. Knowing the history of the two teams in this rivalry, that really made me like our chances. I was confident going into Jordan-Hare I thought I was about to see something special.
Before I get there, though, I've got to say something about the AU fans we saw while we were tailgating. I only had one comment directed at me while we were walking down Samford, and it was unoriginal at best. The rest of the walk, though, was pleasant. No taunts, no jeers, no anything. The tailgate we were a part of was in the amphitheater area, and we were pretty much left alone by the other guys. It was a great spread, though, so thanks to all of the AU folks who made that happen.
Once we got inside the stadium we made our way up to our seats. We could see the whole field very well, and we were in the top righthand corner of the endzone facing the HD screen and scoreboard. We got there about 30 minutes before kickoff, settled in to our seats, and received the good-natured ribbing from the home crowd around us. One thing that was really cool to see, and I'm kind of ashamed to admit it, was Bo Jackson being honored. As a kid of the 80s, he was like a god to us. I'm not sure how anyone in the stadium couldn't have cheered for him. His injury caused a great loss to sports history, and it was cool to be able to cheer him.
All I had heard about these games, though, is how great the eagle flight is. Well, compared to a girl slinging fire who knows how many feet in the air, that eagle was nothing. As for other parts of their game atmosphere their pre-kickoff music is awful. I mainly loathe it because I associate it with Tech; I hope no one chimes in to tell me that the song is played at Sanford Stadium, as well (we haven't been back to Sanford since 2003). Finally, I think less of any band that plays the Imperial March as part of their catalog. I really think it says a great deal about how we view our band, our team, and our school that the Redcoats don't ever play that leitmotif. Really, who wants to be associated with the Empire?
The fans around us were all right. One kid kept giving my wife dirty looks whenever she cheered, and another guy got all worked up when the Dawgs were up 21-7. I think he basically said we couldn't cheer because he paid $2,000/yr for his seats and that was his "living room." He got a lot nicer when they reclaimed the lead, though. Imagine that.
As for the actual game, sitting in the thick of the Auburn fans was a very strange feeling. Because of our seats in relation to the scoreboard, we were in such a position that we couldn't see replays. I didn't know that Murray had been speared until getting home; there was no replay shown (that I saw), and it was on the opposite end of the field from us. The guy immediately in front of me demanded a replay, though. I'm guessing the officials knew it was dirty and opted not to show it.
Also, I couldn't tell that Newton's stiff-arm may have actually been a punch, but I guess that's par for the course. When Reuben Faloughi went down, I was looking at something else. I heard the Aubies start booing, and I saw one of our guys down. I don't know what happened there, and I haven't seen a replay or anything. I do know that whenever Richt ran out onto the field, the folks around us booed and yelled at him to get back; he doesn't seem to be a well-loved guy around other places.
We left before the brawl because we had to pick up our kids in Opelika and then drive the distance of I-65 back to south Alabama. We missed the last five minutes of game time, but it's probably best we weren't in the AU section when that happened.I wouldn't have been able to handle it.
In the end it was a good day with good friend with a good football game with a crappy ending. To top it all off, though, a kid in my youth group said to me, "War Eagle" as I was giving him communion tonight.
I love college football.