In January 2007, then again in January 2009, U.S. Representative Jack Kingston voted against non-binding resolutions congratulating the Florida Gators on winning the Division I-A college football national championship. Congressman Kingston, a University of Georgia alumnus whose district borders the Sunshine State, declined to honor the Bulldogs’ division rival to the south, for which I took him to task not once, but twice.
The second time, I received a comment from CheapSeats1, whose sister is the Congressman’s legislative assistant in Washington, D.C. I was offered the opportunity to forward a short set of questions to Congressman Kingston through CheapSeats1, which I accepted. My questions (in bold type) and the Congressman’s answers (in regular type) appear below without editing or alteration.
When Representative Kingston’s responses arrived in my e-mail in-basket on Tuesday evening, they were accompanied by an apology from his legislative assistant regarding the delay in getting his answers to me. However, the Congressman had actual public business to which to attend, inasmuch as economic stimulus legislation was before the House, so Congressman Kingston replied quickly enough to be responsive but not so rapidly as to suggest that he didn’t have better things to do. He did, and he was doing them.
Quite frankly, when you finish reading his answers to my questions, you are likely to reach two conclusions: (a) your decision to vote for an actual party nominee for the post of chief executive rather than write in Jack Kingston’s name for president of the United States was sheer unmitigated folly for which you should hang your head in abject shame and perhaps turn your Knowshon Rockwell Moreno blackout jersey into a hairshirt, and (b) you should never again visit this weblog, because I’m a bozo and an ingrate for having criticized the Congressman in the first place. (Do stick around for MaconDawg’s coverage of national signing day, though.) A couple of concluding paragraphs by me (written in italics) appear at the end.
Dawg Sports: In January 2009, as in January 2007, you voted against a Congressional resolution honoring the Florida Gators as Division I-A college football’s national champion. Why did you vote against these resolutions? Were these votes symbolic gestures in the spirit of rivalry or do you believe Florida was undeserving of the 2006 and 2008 national titles?
Congressman Kingston: Background: I am the only Member of Congress who grew up in Athens and actually played football in Sanford Stadium. Of course, I was only 10 years old at the time, and merely a participant in a pre-game with my Athens YMCA teammates. It was so pre, pre-game that my parents weren't even there. But, as a Y member, I got to share a locker room with Jake Scott (UGA/Miami Dolphins) and Andy Johnson (UGA/New England Patriots). My job was picking up towels- what an honor. When I was convinced my football career had peaked, I sold football programs in Sanford Stadium for a dollar each and feasted on Poss' Bar-b-que. During the game, we would sit on the grassy hill in the Northwest corner of the stadium. Those were the cheap seats, before the "Tracks" became famous.
I am an SEC guy- I am proud of the conference. It's the toughest in Division IA. You cannot have the NFL without the SEC. In regards to the 2007 vote. I graduated from UGA, but I actually started at Michigan State. I quickly learned that Spartans have the same regard for Ohio State as we do for Florida. So it was great to see Ohio State lose. I was proud of the University of Florida, Urban Myer, and Tim Tebow (How could dislike him? He has better PR than Disney World). However, why endanger a long standing rivalry in a weak moment of hugs and kisses? Just as ancient Athens had Sparta, modern Athens has to have Gainesville.
Dawg Sports: I criticized your vote in each instance because I believe it made Georgia, which historically has boasted a more successful football program than Florida, appear envious of the Gators’ recent success. Is that a valid criticism? If not, why not? Are you concerned at all that your vote could be construed that way? Are you concerned about the possibility of a Gator backlash from the Florida delegation when it comes time for the House of Representatives to honor the Bulldogs after Mark Richt leads them to the national championship?
Congressman Kingston: When it comes to GA/FL, nothing counts but the present. Have you ever noticed that we only resurrect the "all-time" statistics when we lose the game? I might envy the NFL teams that pick up Knowshon and Stafford, but I'll never envy anyone who wears blue and orange to black tie events.
Next year, when the Bulldogs' national title resolution comes to the floor, I would be disappointed in the Florida delegation if they felt they needed to vote for it. But fortunately, we don't have to have their votes to pass it. Besides, they would probably bring in butterfly ballots, confuse everyone, then demand a recount.
Dawg Sports: Congressman Joe Barton of Texas has introduced the College Football Playoff Act of 2009 (H.R. 390). This bill would, if enacted into law, prohibit the promotion and merchandising of any Division I-A college football game as a "national championship game" if it did not involve a playoff and would punish violations as unfair or deceptive acts or practices under the Federal Trade Commission Act. What is your position on the College Football Playoff Act of 2009, and why?
Congressman Kingston: Wow- now that's sour grapes. I favor a playoff, but with a 9% unemployment rate, boots on the ground in the Middle East and people seeing their retirement accounts reduced by half, I think Congress has better things to spend time on. However, since Florida fans are against it, maybe it should be our number one priority.
Dawg Sports: President Barack Obama has stated repeatedly that he supports an eight-team playoff in Division I-A college football and he has indicated his intention to throw his weight behind such a postseason format. What is your position on a Division I-A college football playoff, and why?
Congressman Kingston: I support any system that allows us to have at least two more games a year. This means more beam and coke, chicken wings, and ESPN Gameday. So there's really no downside. Maybe we should just extend the season through March? After all, no one watches basketball but a bunch of ACC weenies.
My profuse thanks go out to Congressman Kingston for his gracious willingness to be interviewed. While I am a firm believer that college football has a necessary connection to the state legislature and the judicial branch, I have tended to be a bit rough on House members for their gridiron-related actions, and it is to the Congressman’s credit that he did not allow this to affect either his sense of humor or his sense of duty. While I still disagree with Jack Kingston’s votes on these resolutions, I credit him with being a conscientious and responsive public servant, as well as being remarkably down to earth for someone who has held office at that level for this long.
Truly my bad, Congressman; you’re good people and a damn good ‘Dawg. Here’s hoping that, if the U.S. House of Representatives ever takes up a non-binding resolution to declare me a dufus---and surely such a resolution will be introduced as soon as someone shows this to, say, Dennis Kucinich---Congressman Kingston will vote in the negative then, too, in spite of any evidence I inadvertently may have given him to the contrary.