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Wednesday Morning Dawg Bites Wants All You Kids to Get Off Its Lawn!

The day before Thanksgiving is an appropriate time to get all the surliness out of your system. Dawg Bites invites you to unleash your inner grumpy old man ere the holiday arrives.

Mark Fox has the right attitude: crappy.
Mark Fox has the right attitude: crappy.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving. It is a traditional and thoroughgoingly American celebration of faith, family, food, and football, and I, for one, enjoy it immensely. However, much as the uninhibited bacchanalia of Fat Tuesday precedes the opening of the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday, so, too, must the outpouring of gratitude on Thanksgiving Day be prefaced by an exhibition of grumpiness to get it out of our systems. If I seem more than usually surly in this morning’s edition of Dawg Bites, well, now you know why.

Even so, though, we begin on a high note, and we begin close to home, where, recently, the perfectly reasonable constructive criticism has been offered that the site changes occurring here earlier this year had the unfortunate and unintended consequence of marginalizing much of the quality user-produced content generated by the talented and dedicated members of the Dawg Sports community. In an effort to alleviate that unfortunate side effect, we begin this morning’s edition of Dawg Bites by highlighting top-flight recent reader-generated postings: Lady Dawg knows where you can get a ticket to the Georgia Tech game, to which micashue and the rest of the paint line want us all to come attired in black; dawgknight was the first to analyze what last weekend’s results meant for Georgia, but esquiredawg initially called our attention to the Alabama fan base’s reaction to the same events; Jeremiah Johnson expressed his hatred for Georgia Tech, while Jman781 showed Aaron Murray some love; ’92 grad shared a deflating story regarding the Yellow Jackets, whereas Travis Rice offered a disturbingly realistic assessment of the postseason picture and Dawg Haus provided a detailed look ahead at national signing day; and, last but by no means least, Cherokee’s Grip bid farewell to Derek Dooley and began elucidating the Engineers’ options. I know the fanposts and fanshots are harder to find and tougher to highlight than they used to be, but we will continue to do our best to call attention to the great work being done by the community, for which we remain as grateful as ever. Thanks, everyone!

That said, the grumpy old man grousing now begins. According to this week’s SEC Power Poll, the four worst teams in the Southeastern Conference are, in alphabetical order, the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Auburn Tigers, the Kentucky Wildcats, and the Tennessee Volunteers. The Georgia Bulldogs and the South Carolina Gamecocks each played three of those four teams, two as division matchups and one as an interdivisional crossover opponent. Since four of both SEC East schools’ remaining five conference games were against division foes, the only appreciable difference between Georgia’s and South Carolina’s schedules is that the Bulldogs played Ole Miss and the Gamecocks played LSU. What’s the difference between the Rebels and the Bayou Bengals, you may ask? The answer would be six points. Can we please, for the love of all things holy, cut it out with the “soft schedule” nonsense? (The answer to that question, by the way, is: “No; no, we cannot” . . . as we shall see in one of my subsequent complaints.)

In addition to being one of the five remaining contenders for the Butkus Award, Jarvis Jones is among the finalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, alongside the South Carolina Gamecocks’ Jadeveon Clowney and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s Manti Te’o. While all three are terrific players, Jarvis Jones has a cool name, whereas the other two were saddled with monikers that sound like Homey’s secret identity from “In Living Color” and a lyric from a Harry Belafonte song, respectively. Jones leads the nation in forced fumbles, is second in the NCAA in tackles for loss, and is second in all the land in sacks per game. We wish Jarvis good luck in becoming the second Bulldog (after David Pollack in 2004) to win the Bednarik Award, and we hope that, when he attends the awards ceremony on December 6, it will be the first of two meetings between Jones and Te’o this season. See what I did there?

Yes, you saw what I did there, and I did it because someone had to do it, since no one else seems to think there is even the remotest chance that Georgia might upset Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. You see, the Bulldogs are 10-1, but they dodged Alabama, Louisiana State, and Arkansas Mississippi State Texas A&M out of the West; they lost to South Carolina, who has two losses (to Florida and LSU), and to whom they were down, 21-0, at the end of the first quarter; last weekend, they beat a Division I-AA team, Georgia Southern; and their best win is over the Florida Gators. This meager record of achievement stands in stark contrast to that of the Crimson Tide: Alabama is 10-1, but they dodged Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina out of the East; they lost to Texas A&M, who has two losses (to Florida and LSU), and to whom they were down, 20-0, at the end of the first quarter; last weekend, they beat a Division I-AA team, Western Carolina, who lost to Georgia Southern; and their best win is over the LSU Tigers, who lost to Florida. Obviously, there is no comparison between mighty ‘Bama and lowly Georgia, which is why the BlogPoll has the Crimson Tide ranked second and the Bulldogs ranked fourth.

The Maryland Terrapins and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights are going to the Big Ten. Thanks to sanctions against the Miami Hurricanes and the North Carolina Tar Heels, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are going to the ACC Championship Game. No, I’m not providing any links on any of that, because I don’t give a damn, and neither should you.

Speaking of the Golden Tornado, I have been informed that Georgia has “won 10 of the last 11 against the Yellow Jackets, but almost all of those games have been fairly close.” The adverb in that sentence is a nifty little dodge, don’t you think? Of Mark Richt’s ten wins against Georgia Tech, three have come by 14 points (31-17 in 2001, 2007, and 2011), one has come by 17 points (34-17 in 2003), and one has come by 44 points (51-7 in 2002). When half of a head coach’s wins against his team’s in-state rival come by two touchdowns or more, you have to have a fairly liberal definition of the word “fairly” to suggest that “almost all of those games” have been even remotely close.

We all agree that the poisoning of the oak trees at Toomer’s Corner at the entrance to the Auburn University campus was a sick and deranged criminal act. Likewise, we can all agree that it is unfortunate that the oaks caught fire early Sunday morning. That said, there are aspects of this situation, as highlighted in the foregoing article, that it is beyond human nature not to mock and belittle; as we say in the legal field, to wit:

At approximately 3:23 a.m. Sunday, Auburn firefighters were called to Toomer’s Corner where they found the famed trees that mark the entrance to the Auburn University campus ablaze. The Tigers defeated Alabama A&M 51-7 Saturday afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium, prompting hundreds to douse the trees and surrounding area with the traditional rolls of toilet paper.

“There was a large amount of fire in the toilet paper at the base of the trees going up into the trees,” AFD Chief Lee Lamar said.

First of all, it should be noted that, when parents name their children, they often are trying to give their youngsters a direction in life. When you name a kid John Marshall Harlan, you’re basically telling him you expect him to become a U.S. Supreme Court justice. When you name a kid Colt McCoy, you’re basically guaranteeing that he one day will become the starting quarterback for the Texas Longhorns. When you name a kid Lee Lamar, you’re basically dooming him to grow up to be the chief of the Auburn Fire Department.

Secondly, I have to say, I find the time curious. 3:23? Really? Do you happen to know how many games Bear Bryant won in his coaching career? What’s that you say? 323? Well, that’s a hell of a coincidence, don’t you think? I mean, allegedly, of course.

Anyway, to the report itself; here’s a tip: When you cover dead trees with paper products in a heavily-trafficked area populated by people who have been drinking copious amounts of alcohol in late autumn, it’s a dadgum fire hazard!

Members of the Toomer’s Oaks Task Force also examined the trees on Monday, during which time they found significant damage to both trees and to several plants adjacent to the plaza, according to a statement issued by the university. The task force plans to post an update concerning the fire damage to oaks next week.

That’s right, boys and girls. There is a Toomer’s Oaks Task Force. Auburn’s tax dollars at work, my friends.

University officials declined to comment whether or not the incident would impact whether or not the trees would continue to be rolled following athletic victories, citing a gag order put in place by a Lee County judge.

A gag order. Issued by a judge. To prevent public comment on whether fans would be allowed to continue throwing toilet paper into trees. Heck of a legal system y’all got going over there, Plainsmen. By the way, could you use the superfluous “or not” after “whether” a few more times?

While this weekend’s incident marked the latest, it was by no means the first in which the trees have sustained fire damage.

But of course.

Lamar said the AFD last responded to the trees being set on fire in 2010, the same year that the oaks were allegedly poisoned with a powerful herbicide by University of Alabama fan Harvey Updyke.

Yep. 3:23 a.m. Totally a coincidence, I’m sure. Allegedly.

After bringing the fire under control, firefighters used a thermal imaging camera to ensure there were no additional hotspots before soaking the plaza area down.

Too bad there weren’t Georgia fans in the area, or the Auburn authorities would have broken out the fire hoses much sooner.

By the way, if they’re serious about searching for the culprit behind this mayhem, I think the authorities should interview Kirk Herbstreit.

Finally, be careful what you wish for, playoff proponents, because you’re going to get it, and the sport will be the poorer for it.

Feel free to offer your own links, and to engage in the ritualistic airing of the grievances, in the comments below, so as to get all the surliness out of our systems before enjoying the giving of thanks tomorrow. Crappy Wednesday, then happy Thanksgiving!

Go ‘Dawgs!

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