In all things there must be balance.
Order and chaos. Work and leisure. Good and evil. Light and dark.
College football is a ritual celebration of chaos.
It is an ordered and decorous encomium to Auburn Jesus, dog piss celebrations, discount khakis, Tennessee coaching searches, and the clear and noxious conspiracy against multi-millionaire Dabo Swinney.
It is all of these things and it is none of them, and it is all of them in the pure act of being none of them.
The reason the Iron Bowl is the most compelling rivalry of the past decade—despite Auburn only having won four Iron Bowls in that time span—is that the rivalry is the purest distillation of the metaphysical battle at the heart of collegiate athletics: you can try as hard as you possibly can to account for every little thing via the Process®—every skill, every role, every matchup, every situation—but then a ball will bounce off a player’s ass for a pick six and your quite competent kicker will doink one from 30 yds out.
Chaos crashes into Structure to create the World as we know it, and it is ugly and beautiful.
Speaking of ugly, the University of Georgia football team is just about unwatchable.
Our offense is the entertainment equivalent of a radio special on rural AM about the different configurations of trailer hitches on an off-brand Gator.
We are an HR course on proper methods of data storage.
We are a conference presentation on the future of conference presentations by someone who is attending their first conference.
Yet, we are necessary.
We are the bringer of a balance essential to the functioning of the sport.
We are not the ruiner of things.
We are not the winners of things.
We are simply the white paper without which no art can exist.
We are fat, tasteless and gross on its own, sure, but without us most food sucks.
This weekend the University of Georgia will play Lousiana State University in football.
LSU is a pure joy to watch.
They have a redemption story at quarterback, who will most likely break the record for completion percentage this season. They have a stable of wideouts that are frankly ungodly and obscene to watch. They also have a running back with a funny name who will grind your entire body into the soil with his cleats like your ass was made of Scotts Turfbuilder.
They are what we always dreamed LSU could be back in the days when Les Miles played offense with three fullbacks, two tight ends, and a cardboard cutout of Billy Cannon at QB.
On top of that, their defense, inexplicably, isn’t that good. WHICH JUST MEANS YOU GET TO SEE THEIR OFFENSE EVEN MORE. So not only is LSU wonderful to watch, most of their games are really really fun because both teams score. Hell, they gave up 38 to Vandy! How do you even do that?!
It very well may be that UGA comes into Atlanta and just gets obliterated by LSU. Our defense, some argue, has been propped up by a weakened set of divisional opponents and elite opponents shooting themsleves in the foot. They will finally face a true test and break. LSU will win by 40.
That could very well happen.
More than that, it seems like that SHOULD happen, and I want to say why I think that is.
It has to do with our brains and our proclivity towards story.
You—yes, you—have a bias towards a proper and controlled narrative.
Your brain naturally receives data (for lack of a better word) from the outside world and shapes it into a compelling and sensible story. College football is often so interesting because it resists this natural function of our minds. It takes one look at our well-maintained sand castles and puts its laces through them.
The same thing applies to the University of Georgia and its putrid pile of banana peels of an offense.
When you watch a football game and the team is aesthetically unpleasant or simply boring as all hell, your brain instinctively wants to say that the reason such a dull turd of a football game is unfolding before you is because one of the teams isn’t any good. You might say that this is why people don’t appreciate defense, but that is not entirely true. Recall that the Honey Badger was must-see television every single time he played a game for LSU.
The difficulty is that none of your instincts here are necessarily right.
What I’m trying to say is, yes, the University of Georgia’s football team is inexplicably awful to watch play the game of football.
Every game we have played this season, save the routs of Arkansas State, Murray State, and Georgia Tech, have been a war crime against your good sports taste.
The natural instinct is to say that this is the case because UGA isn’t very good at football.
But that is not true, at least we don’t know that it is true.
It could very well be the case that Georgia is the best football team in the country and also the most unwatchable team since.....hell, I don't even know? Both of those things can be true, despite them being the toughest possible football truth for our puny little brains to process.
And, as one writer put it, wouldn’t that be the most Georgia way possible to win the whole thing?
honestly, maybe this is inevitable bc the most georgia way to win a national championship would be for no one involved to genuinely enjoy a single second of it in the process— Amanda Mull (@amandamull) November 20, 2019
Doesn’t it start to produce that pit in your stomach, like you’re staring into your future, when you are presented with the idea that a Georgia national championship would come about through the least fun means possible?
Like, its not just that this could happen, but it starts to feel like it genuinely ought to happen.
Watching the University of Georgia play their wet-socks-that-also-somehow-itch brand of football is good for your soul.
You know how I know? Friedrich Nietzsche.
What if some day or night a demon were to steal into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once again and innumerable times again; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unspeakably small or great in your life must return to you, all in the same succession and sequence - even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned over again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!’ Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god, and never have I heard anything more divine.’ If this thought gained power over you, as you are it would transform and possibly crush you; the question in each and every thing, ‘Do you want this again and innumerable times again?’ would lie on your actions as the heaviest weight! Or how well disposed would you have to to become to yourself and to life to long for nothing more fervently than for this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?
What Nietzsche is saying here is not exactly the “time is a flat circle” thing from True Detective.
He’s telling a parable about how life might be intensified such that you live a type of existence that exists as hard as humanly possible.
He is saying what if all of your life—not just the great triumphs or even the great moments of tragedy, but the boring, hum-drum, forgettable things too—what if you willed all of that so hard that you were willing to run the entire sequence again and again for eternity? How would that make you live differently? What would you choose differently? Would you become a different type of person?
The University of Georgia football team offers you a similar choice.
What if the demon of James Coley came through your window and woke you and said ‘This game as a I call it and have called it, you will have to watch once again and innumerable times again. And there will be nothing new. But every inside draw, every four yard out, every end around from our own 15 yard-line, will return to you in the same sequence. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned over again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!”
Could you bring yourself to will to watch this UGA team over and over again?
Can you will yourself to be a part of this world? This one, with this Georgia offense.
Can you find the strength within yourself to want this forever?
If so, the world will be transfigured before you, and you will walk among us as one made Glorious.
And you know who you’ll have to thank for it?
This root canal of a football team.
This white tube socks with New Balances of a football team.
This “mayonnaise sandwich with a bit of cayenne that was clearly a risk and did not pay off” of a football team.
This directional NCIS spin-off of a football team.