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Wednesday Night Dawg Bites

The week has reached its midpoint and there are a few matters of note deserving of our attention, so I hope you will not mind that I have combined a series of unrelated observations in a single posting for your perusal. Here is what you need to know right now:

This week, I have been trying to orchestrate a campaign to get Georgia to play Texas. While this effort appears unlikely to succeed, there remain connections between the programs that make such a matchup logical and attractive.

For instance, both are all-time top-tier programs that have had impressive runs of success in the 21st century. Both are great state universities that offer top-flight educations at reasonable prices. Both compete in 12-team conferences and face bitter divisional rivals in historic neutral site games.

Also, both boast famous fight songs that their more ignorant detractors confuse with "I've Been Working on the Railroad."


Finally, both teams recently fielded quarterbacks whom fans would rather forget.

I have criticized E.S.P.N. for its love affair with Steve Spurrier. The Evil Genius had not yet inked his deal to return to the S.E.C. East before the "GameDay" gang was promoting the quotable coach with the telegenic offense because they knew Darth Visor was good for T.V. ratings, even if he no longer was worthy of A.P. rankings.

Evidence of the Worldwide Leader's singleminded devotion to the Ol' Ball Coach may be found in the fact that Steve Superior's every achievement is inflated out of all proportion, while the no-nonsense Bobby Johnson is given comparatively little credit because his program and his methods lack sex appeal . . . not, it should be noted, because of any appreciable difference in their respective resumes.

Last year, Coach Spurrier was hailed as a miracle worker because he took over a South Carolina team that had gone 6-5 the year before and he improved it so much that it went 7-5. Why was this half-game upgrade treated as such a singular achievement?

Supposedly, it was because the Gamecocks were competitive with the "Big Three" programs in the S.E.C. East. South Carolina went on the road to face Georgia in Athens and fell just short of getting the upset. The Palmetto State Poultry then went on the road to face Tennessee in Knoxville and won. The Big Chickens then hosted Florida in Columbia and beat the Gators, too.

If that is the reason for heaping praise upon Stevie Boy, though, why isn't Bobby Johnson deserving of equal credit? In his last three games against the Big Three, Coach Johnson has taken his Vanderbilt squad to Gainesville, to Knoxville, and to Athens, in succession . . . and, in those three road games, the Commodores have beaten the Bulldogs, beaten the Volunteers, and lost to the Gators in overtime in a game Vandy almost certainly would have won, but for an egregious call by an official.

Coach Spurrier's Gamecocks were 2-1 against the Big Three, with two of those games being played on the road and the lone loss being a close one. Coach Johnson's Commodores were 2-1 against the Big Three, will all three of those games being played on the road and the lone loss being a close one that ended with a controversial call.


That's right, you spoiled whiny brat . . . he's every bit as good as you are!

Coach Johnson's achievement is, at worst, identical to and, quite arguably, better than Coach Spurrier's . . . and that is without taking into account the likelihood that South Carolina's athletes generally are better than Vanderbilt's.

If the powers that be at E.S.P.N. were being intellectually honest, they would take the position that Bobby Johnson is at least as good a coach right now as Steve Spurrier . . . but, because Steve Spurrier is good for ratings and Steve Martin isn't, one man gets credit that he simply has not earned in the 21st century, while the man who probably ought to be declared the 2006 S.E.C. Coach of the Year is slighted.

While Dawg Sports is a Georgia Bulldogs weblog first and foremost, I try to offer at least a somewhat comprehensive look at college football, which I hope will attract fans from around the country, of whatever affiliation. I would ask, however, that everyone try to maintain a sense of humor.

While picking this week's national games of interest, I made a harmless, good-natured joke about the fact that many Big Ten teams play rivalry games for possession of some rather offbeat trophies. This drew a rebuke from a Purdue fan and ended up producing a comment thread at a Boilermaker message board that bemoaned "what life is like for a Boiler in GA" and generated grousing about the perception that S.E.C. fans "will always look at the Big Ten as a bunch of slow kids who dream of playing down south, but are just not good enough."

This was followed by swipes at University of Georgia academic standards, the recent University of Miami brawl (which did not involve an S.E.C. school, by the way), and the fact that "a 7-4 Purdue team actually had a 25 point lead on the mighty Bulldogs" in the 2000 Outback Bowl . . . when the Boilermakers took on a 7-4 Georgia squad.

[Insert humorous jab here; count on reasonable readers to be able to take a joke.]

I tried to bring some sense of rationality to this exchange by posting a cordial reply to make everyone aware that, when not joshing around in an easygoing way about Purdue's game against Wisconsin, I am busy ranking three Big Ten teams in the top 11 in the country (including two in the top three), declaring that three of Division I-A's four best players are on Big Ten teams, and trying to arrange a home and home series between Georgia and Michigan.

Simply stated, I don't know another conference that S.E.C. fans respect more than the Big Ten, home of longstanding tradition, rock-ribbed defense, and old school football. Far from arguing that Big Ten teams cannot compete with Southeastern Conference squads (an argument which several competitive bowl games in the Sunshine State have refuted, assuming that such an argument ever seriously was made), I have demonstrated that such an argument is sheer nonsense.

Sigmund Freud said that, sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar. Well, sometimes, a joke is just a joke. It's not a slam on a school, a region, a conference, or a way of life. Lighten up, guys; I'm kidding around about your trophies, not casting aspersions or subscribing to stereotypes every bit as baseless and ignorant as the animadversions some Purdue fans are much too quick to ascribe to my alma mater, my region, my conference, and me.

Despite the foregoing quotation, however, I am a Jungian, not a Freudian, for two reasons. First of all, I think most people's problems are their fault, not their mother's fault. Secondly, I saw the Police at the Omni back in '83 and none of Sting's songs had anything to do with all that id-ego-superego business.

As many of you are aware, my son, Thomas, is a mojo savant, detecting and translating both good and bad vibes without really understanding what he is perceiving.

Earlier this evening, while Susan was getting the boy's bath ready, I was watching Thomas in his playroom downstairs. He went over to his dry erase board and began drawing on it with his markers. Unfortunately, the caps had been left off of some of the markers the last time he used them, so some of them had dried out and would not write.

He picked up the green marker and tried to write with it . . . nothing. Next, he tried the blue one . . . still nothing. He went through them all and only two markers were working: the red one and the black one. Thomas drew to his heart's content with those two colors and only those two colors.

I'm taking that as a sign. Much as I had hoped he would, Mark Richt has named Matthew Stafford as Saturday's starting quarterback. A new season begins between the hedges this weekend and, as my son demonstrated earlier tonight, only the Red and Black remain in good working order.

Go 'Dawgs!