From my earliest recollection, I've been a Dawg fan. Literally, the very first memory I have is from September 6, 1980 and Herschel Walker announcing himself to college football by pasting a couple of Tennessee defenders. I was 4 years old. The next thing I remember is falling down the steps and breaking my arm at Grandma's house. I was 5 years old. Oddly, I don't remember Belue to Scott, or "Sugar falling from the sky," but I'm sure I was listening.
My family has a long and unremarkable history with the University of Georgia. Grandpa was a professor of Agronomy in the 60s and 70s. Mom is a graduate of the Veterinary school and worked there later in life. One cousin graduated with a degree in Information Systems back in the 90s. An uncle worked in Environmental Sciences, then parlayed that into a job with the EPA partnering with the University. Various and sundry other relatives have attended, off and on, throughout the years. While my Bachelor's isn't from UGA, I have been involved with the Carl Vinson Institute for more than 5 years. For completing a VERY long certification program through CVIOG, I received a, well, I don't know what to call it, but it looks just like a degree. That, above all certifications and other various framed documents, hangs highest on my wall and is my most treasured.
When I was in Middle School, my Dad worked for Saint Mary's Hospital. He drove what they euphemistically called "Non-Emergency Transport" on game days. Technically, if there an injury wasn't life-threatening but required hospital/ER attention he would take them; actually, he gave the nuns a ride to and from the game - if they didn't stay to tailgate afterwards. The really sweet thing about Dad's Saturday gig is that he got three passes, so me, Dad, and one of my new best friends would attend every home game. We would always arrive early and take our seats in the bleachers behind the West end zone (aside, the Mrs bought tickets for Tennessee this year and we were sitting in almost the same space). Arriving early meant we'd get to meet players and coaches as they warmed up and they actually talked to us!! I was there during the days of Lars Tate, Rodney Hampton, John Rambo, Bill Goldberg, Mo Lewis and Tim Worley. I remember Rodney Hampton bringing my (actual) friend, Maurice, and I on the field and running the 40-yard versus 20-yard dash with us (he ran 40, we ran 20). He beat us both handily, and we even got to say "Go!"
When early kickoffs coincided with Middle School football, I was seriously torn between loyalties for the two teams. I almost quit football my 7th grade year after I had to miss 3 games; it should be noted that the Dawgs lost 2 of those - LSU and Auburn (it should also be noted that UGA is undefeated when I am in attendance; donations for season tickets in my name can be made to the UGA Athletic Association, just sayin'). Unfortunately, Dad left that job during the 88-89 offseason and I wouldn't enter Sanford Stadium until many years had passed.
Truth be told, I wasn't that good of a football player. That probably had a lot to do with me being a year younger than everybody in the league because I only spent a day in 2nd grade. You see, I was more of a braniac than an athlete. Okay, I was all braniac and NO athlete - I was in Gifted, anchored the Academic Bowl team, took Algebra in 6th grade, was All-State in band and chorus, etc. I only played sports because I, like many other Geeks before me, wanted desperately to fit in with the "Cool Kids" and the "Cool Kids" were playing sports. My lack of size, skill, and general athletic ability meant I rode the bench a lot. A LOT.
Even still, when not dealing with practices or games I could be found tinkering with something electronic or mechanical. Not just video games or computers, mind you (although I loved my TRS-80 and Tandy 1000HX), but all sorts of electronic stuff: radios, RC cars, train sets, et cetera. I would invariably get yelled at for taking whatever it was apart and it not working after my haphazard reassembly. One thing that really spurred me towards Geek life was the second time (in two weeks, I believe) that I managed to break our brand new computer. When Dad and I went to pick it up from CUBY Systems (in Alps at the time), he promptly took me to Georgia Square Mall. We went to Walden Books, where he bought me a copy of Upgrading and Repairing PCs and told me the next time I broke it I could either fix it or pay the $200 myself. The die was cast. This pattern of mostly-geek/partial-jock pretty much repeated itself every year through High School graduation, except I finally hit a growth spurt and got some meager athletic skills.
Upon graduation, I decided I'd had enough of all that high-falutin' book-learnin' and wasn't about to put myself through 4 MORE years of ridiculous busy work and boredom. So, I decided I'd enlist in the Marine Corps instead. File that under: IRONY. In spite of all the fun I had for 6 years in the Corps, for one reason or another I could never make it home during football season. To make matters worse, this was before the days that [Insert Satellite Company Here] would give you a dish and installation just to get you to subscribe. Still, my family made sure I got my fix. During boot camp, Mom and Dad would send newspaper clippings with all the stories from the Banner-Herald. When shore-side, they'd record the games on these rectangular devices called "Video Cassettes" so I could watch the game in the "VCR." When deployed (and not up to fighting 50 other Marines for the berthing area's VCR privilege), they'd send me recordings of Munson's play-by-play. There was something very soothing about hearing Munson's gravelly voice 3000 miles away from home - I have literally heard him call games "in every clime and place." While this part of the story also fills time gaps, it's import to getting back to the title.
Once I said my fond farewells to my beloved Corps, I returned back to the bosom of family and almost-Athens. Fortunately for me, I had a couple of friends who delayed their undergrad a few years and were then attending UGA. This was back in the good old days when getting in the student section was easy. This was also when UGA was consistently ranked among the nation's top party schools, so when they offered tickets a couple of times a year I made sure I got the full experience. After about a year of working jobs with little upside, I decided it was high time to take back the $1200 in beer money by beloved Uncle Samuel had taken from me (read: GI Bill) so I went back to school. I was married with a young son and had to provide, so going to school full time at UGA wasn't a real option for me. Plus I didn't really want to have to STUDY anything, so I found something that I knew how to do: computer stuff. The official name of the program may have been "Microcomputer Specialist" but when people asked me what I was studying, I just told them, "computer stuff."
So long story (and educational career) short, I'm a Computer Geek. And yes, it's "Geek," not "nerd" or "wizard." While I don't play World of Warcraft or enjoy Quantum Physics more than college football, I have quite a lot in common with the students and alumni of the North Avenue Trade School. Hell, I'm even an engineer - it says so on my job description. And that's where our similarities END. I would rather enjoy college football on ANY Saturday (not just that ONE in November) with a good bourbon and beautiful coeds than sit in study hall or teach robots how to lie to each other. I'd rather have big bad carnivore for my mascot (and it helps that UGA and USMC share a mascot) than some ragamuffin POS jalopy or an insect I routinely kill. I'd rather root for a team who considers 8-5 an off year, not a pretty good year. I hate Tech, loathe Florida, look askance at Auburn and mostly pity Tennessee (lately). If South Carolina keeps it up, they'll find a place on my wall too.
In the rather short time since I decided to stop lurking and start commenting here I've tried to bring more reason than ranting and raving to the discussion. The AJC and Dawg Vent were way too "Wild West" for my tastes, considering that I try to subscribe to the Mark Twain theory of arguing with fools. So this seems like the place for me. I appreciate the passionate arguments, especially dissenting ones (Mom always said I should have been a
litigator trial attorney), and really look forward to more in the future.