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The Friday Tailgate is open for business

Maestro, the first tailgate soundtrack of the season if you will:

This is the Friday Tailgate, the place for you to put up your feet and crack open a digital cold one with all your Bulldog friends while we wait for the ‘Dawgs to kick it off in the Georgia Dome tomorrow. This will also serve as the Friday college football open comment thread for tonight’s action, which features the Fightin’ Bobos of Colorado State versus the Colorado Buffalos. Kansas State will also visit Stanford for a rematch of last year’s “Band-Gate” game. Though I guess almost every Stanford game is a “Band-Gate” game of some sort. But I digress.

We’re now 24 hours out from the honest-to-goodness beginning of the Kirby Smart era in Athens. I for one am feeling some trepidation. I was in the camp that expressed some misgivings about the decision to part ways with Coach Richt and, empiricist that I am, continue to recognize that the odds of firing the winningest coach in your school’s history by percentage and replacing him with a guy who wins even more games is not, statistically speaking, particularly likely.

That being said, I like a lot of what Kirby Smart has done in Athens. I like that he’s making it known that no starting spot is safe. I like what’s happening on the recruiting trail. I like his general Munsonian pessimism, some of which I sense is not an act. The guy genuinely spent the better part of the past decade in the belly of the most feared football beast in American college athletics. He knows what it takes to get were Georgia wants to go. And then to get there again. And again. And then again.

Will Kirby Smart lead the Red and Black to a national title? Not this year. I’ll stake out that rhetorical ground right now. And I don’t know whether it will happen next season, though I do know that this year’s fairly young Georgia team will be a lot more experienced next season. I don’t know what the future holds.

I’m just glad to finally feel like the future is beginning, that we’re moving forward as a program. It’s time to do that. Those of us who would not have made the move that Greg McGarity did don’t have to like it. No one is under any obligation to think that the coaching change was or wasn’t the right call.

We’re not even obligated to opt in for this football season. I know several very devoted Bulldog fans, season ticket holders, who have decided not to renew. Some of whom don’t plan to watch tomorrow’s game. That’s their right. It’s also my right to be excited that actual University of Georgia football is back. Because whoever is on the sidelines, that’s my team. Has been since I can remember. It’s the school my father rooted for. The school my grandfather rooted for, and whose games were some of my grandparents’ first dates.

I was devoted to the Red and Black before Mark Richt came to Athens, before Jim Donnan got that team he’d been waiting his whole career for, and even before Vince was carried off the field after the Gator Bowl. Good Lord willing, I’ll be devoted to this team, this school, and this state when Nick Chubb’s grandson steps to the podium to accept his Heisman after leading the Bulldogs to the SEC title following a thrilling victory over long-time conference foe Oklahoma.

But that’s looking a little too far into the future. I don’t want to do that. I don’t really want to look into the past either. Right now I just want a team wearing red and black beat a team that ain’t. On this I think we can all agree. Until later . . .

Go ‘Dawgs!!!