...or my most hated, or both? This has been a difficult question for me over the years.
1) Auburn has always been the biggest game for me due to the large number of WDE's in Southwest Georgia. They hold a "Burn the Bulldog" bonfire every year where I'm told children throw stuffed Uga's onto the flames while the adults cheer them on. Next year, I hear they plan to stuff a big doll to look like our QB, let the kids helmet up and spear him in the back before they incinerate him. Cupcakes for every kid that separates vertabrae!2) I learned to hate Florida after a buddy of mine got stabbed* at the Landing in the aftermath of the 1992 Ga/Fla debacle (OMG HERE COMES THE QB DRAW, YOU KNOW IT'S COMING, aw crap). That hate has taken on a more "Comfortably Numb" feel over the past 20 years ("...just a little pinprick/there'll be no more AHHHHHHHHHHH/But you may feel a little sick") .
3) Tennessee? Ever since we broke the drought in 2000, I sense more of a haunted wariness that stems from a long walk to Neyland Stadium years ago (the Heath Schuler 38-6 torching of our secondary)...the slack-jawed thousand-yard stares of the puke-orange-overalls crowd that lined the embankments next to the sidewalk. No tailgating, no banter, just a cross between that scene in "Return of the King" when Aragorn recruits the dishonored dead to fight with him and "Hee-Haw: The Silent Movie"**.
4) Which brings me to Tech. Do I hate them (in the clean, old fashioned sense)? Sure I do. I had friends who framed Lewis Grizzard's AJC column the day after a bad loss to Tech. It said, "Frankly, I don't want to talk about it" and left 15 inches of blank space. A sibling of mine dated a [censored] who went to Tech. This person was also a Miami Hurricanes fan. Things got better after they broke up. Nowadays, there just aren't that many Tech alumni around where I live (there seem to be more engineers with Auburn degrees), so the opportunity for the
ribbing, good-natured-back-and-forth venom-filled invective we hurl at each other is limited to snarky Facebook postings, usually in English.
So, while it seems I probably don't hate Tech quite as much as I could or should, does this make the Tech game less important than the others (aka The Other Big 3)? To me, it probably is the MOST important of the Big 4. Here's why I think it doesn't matter so much that we win this game regularly and often: it REALLY matters when we don't.
1) Losing to Tech can ruin a great season and send a bad season into the murky depths of hell (THIS IS NOT A PREDICTION, BTW) This leaves a really bad taste in my mouth for 364 days (365 in a leap year). I'm usually over a loss to Awburn, Florida or UT pretty quickly, 10-14 days at most.
2) Lose to Tech too often (for example, Jim Donnan and Johnny Griffith's three-year schneids) and we have to find a new head coach. I theorize that one of the reasons Goff hung on for so long was that he owned Tech. I will also wonder how we would be looking at this year's Tech game if CMR were coming in on a 2-year losing streak to the Gnats. I shudder to think.
After one of the Donnan Tech losses, the home game where we fumbled/didn't fumble/refs blew a call (can't really remember...I was still young enough to pass for a student and was whooping it up pretty good in section 310), I do recall the anger as we exited Sanford Stadium. One older alumni, who was in school during "The Drought", said something to me that penetrated the hazy, angry aftermath of that loss. He said, "I hope you understand now why I hate those sumbi&*$es." I did, and I do.
Go Dawgs. Avoid the rush, hate Tech NOW.
* He was OK. The mulleted one cut him in the soft part right above the hip. Still, not cool to this day, and the main reason I've only been back to the Cocktail Party once since then.
**Starring Joe Don Baker as guest star Phil Fulmer and the doughnut mascot from "Sex Drive". (don't worry, SFW).