Run Lindsay Run!

It’s that time of year again, the annual battle of Jacksonville, the World’s Largest Cocktail Party, the game between the borders, whatever you want to call it, today is the annual Georgia – Florida Game.

When I lived in Florida, they called it the Florida – Georgia Game… how rude!

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this game my whole life.  If your team wins, you have bragging rights, if the bad guys win you have to listen to the gator fateful for an entire year.

Each year the game is played in the neutral location of Jacksonville, FL and becomes one of the great parties of the year.  50% of the tickets go to Georgia fans and the others go to the bad guys.  When filled, and it always is, a line of beautiful red fills half the stadium and ugly orange fills the other half.

I have been fortunate to attend a few of these games in-person and have always had a tremendous time.  Jacksonville does a great job of hosting each year.

Of all the classic games played in this stadium, I have many memories, but my favorite took place in the comfort of my parents home, many years ago on a cold November day sitting in a dining room chair eating peanuts with my mama and daddy.

The year was 1980, I was a Junior in High School and Coach Dooley, Herschel Walker, Buck Belue and others had Georgia riding high, a perfect season going into the game and a possible chance to play for the National Championship in the grasps.

It’s funny how we remember moments in life just like they were yesterday.  This is one of those memories for me.

I’m sure there were other people in the house, but I only remember being there with my mom and dad.

I remember it being a cold November day, much like today.  I remember sharing roasted peanuts with my daddy, peanuts he had cooked on the top of our wood burning stove.  I remember my mama in her traditional red top, I remember my daddy cheering, I remember feeling nervous and invincible sitting there with my parents.

I remember the nerves going into the game.  Georgia was great that year, but the bad guys were good too and they wanted nothing more than to burst our bubble of historic destiny.

For some reason, I parked myself in a dining room chair I had pulled into the living room between my mama and daddy’s recliners.  We watched the game, a slobber-knocker from the outset.

As the game got deep into the 4th Qtr, Georgia was against the bad-guys end zone and behind on the scoreboard.  Things weren’t looking good, it seemed like the bad guys were going to ruin our dreams, they were going to step in and ruin the fate of our team, like satan himself, they were going to allow evil to overcome good.

Then it happened…. the stars aligned, the heavens opened up and Buck Belue tossed a pass to Lindsay Scott that had the angels rejoicing, the Bulldog faithful celebrating and the demon sent to the lockeroom in defeat…… forever immortalized as RUN LINDSAY RUN!

 

As Lindsay ran, my house screamed, daddy was out of his chair urging Lindsay down the field and mama’s encouraging cheers carried him towards the end zone.  For me, I ended up  in the chair with my mama, I landed in her lap and we embraced and cheered!

That play carried Georgia onto its National Championship Game and I was fortunate to be in the stands for that game with my best friend, my mama and daddy and Chuck Foster.  Those were heady, fun days culminating in my one and only time standing on the field of the SuperDome in New Orleans, celebrating a National Championship.

The Georgia / FL game still holds much the same gravitas as it did back in those days.  Seasons are won or lost during the 60 minutes played in Jacksonville, today will be no different.

I would love to be back in my childhood home, surround by my mom and dad, cheering the Dawgs, but that won’t happen.  I will however take comfort in knowing that two very special angels will be cheering from the heavens, she in her red top, him eating roasted peanuts and urging the good guys on.

It’s the classic battle of good vs evil, GO DAWGS!

Life’s Playlist….. Don’t Stop Believing by Journey

Tough loss, classic game.  Love my Dawgs today and every day!

Thanks for an awesome season.

You Gotta Believe….. GO DAWGS!

Tonight the Georgia Bulldogs will play the Alabama Crimson Tide for the National Championship in College Football.

The game will take place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

It should be a good game with two SEC power-houses battling for the ultimate prize.

Alabama has been a participant in the National Championship numerous times over the last several years.

The last time the Georgia Bulldogs played for the title was in 1981, in New Orleans, in the Sugar Bowl, against Notre Dame.

In 1981, I was there.

A few days before the game, my parents, a family friend Chuck Foster, my best friend Andrew Lampros and I piled into an old motor home that my dad had borrowed from his brother.

We left Clayton early in the morning heading to the big game in New Orleans.

Over the next couple of days we toured the sights and sounds of The Big Easy.  We enjoyed the classic architecture, the street performers and got into the spirit of the game on Bourbon Street surrounded by thousands of Dawg fans who knew this was our year!

The Sugar Bowl would be played on New Year’s Day and the revelry of a New Year’s Eve celebration was something this 16-year-old and his friend had never witnessed.

We strolled Bourbon Street with my parents and Mr. Foster, no doubt mouths wide open at the sights and sounds we saw.  We made our way into Pat O’Brien’s Bar.  (In those days and especially in New Orleans it wasn’t uncommon to see teenagers in a bar, especially with their parents.)

In Pat O’Brien’s we met up with friends and mama and daddy let Andrew and I indulge in our first “Hurricane.”  A drink made with almost every type of alcohol imaginable topped with fruit juice.

At some point during our stay at Pat O’Brien’s, we were joined by my brother Sam and a group of his friends who were also in town for the Game.

Somehow Sam convinced mama and daddy to let Andrew and I go with them to usher in the New Year on Bourbon Street.  They promised they would get us home safe and sound.

So Andrew and I, and a group of 20-something guys made our way out into the night.  And what a night it was, memories that I still have to this day.

The next morning, after being delivered back to my parents safe and sound, we arose to the promise that THIS was Georgia’s year!  Nursing the effects of the night before, we prepared for the game.

As we made our way into the SuperDome, the Georgia faithful were everywhere, the excitement building to a frenzy as the Dawgs took the field.

That night we won, as the team carried Vince Dooley onto the field atop their shoulders, the Georgia Bulldogs were National Champions, defeating Notre Dame 17-10 completing a perfect season.

Andrew and I made our way out onto the field that night, surrounded by all the other happy Dawg fans and in those moments and the many moments that led up to that victory celebration, I created memories that have carried me for more than 35 years.

We still talk about that trip to New Orleans, it was a time that will forever be etched into our minds as some of the best of our life.

Deep into the second half of the game, my dad gave Andrew and I a life lesson that we still quote today.  As Notre Dame was moving down the field and threatening to score, a lady near us said loud enough for everyone in our area to hear something like “oh, I don’t think we are going to do it, I don’t think we are going to do it.”

Without missing a beat, my daddy yelled out “lady you gotta believe, you gotta believe.”

We did and he did.

Tonight as the National Championship Game is played, there will be young boys and girls in the stadium who will be making memories that last a lifetime.  Memories that they will look back on as they are older and celebrate, they will celebrate the excitement of a night, and the simple moments that merge together for one of life’s greatest experiences.

And maybe, just maybe, they will learn a life lesson…. you gotta believe!

GO DAWGS!

Life’s Playlist….. GO DAWGS!

Good Guys Are Expected to Win Too…. @UGAAthletics #BulldogNation @AJCSports

g-logoIt seems like every year I say to my friends, “yes, but he is a really good guy.”  Honestly, I am tired of saying it.

This year the Georgia Bulldogs lost three games to inferior teams.  There is no reason that they are not undefeated and headed to Atlanta to compete for the SEC Championship and sitting in the driver’s seat for a National Championship birth.

Alas, they aren’t.

Every year we seem to lose games we should win.  The latest, today to our in-state rival, Georgia Tech.

Once the game was over, I started noticing on my Facebook feed, the “I love my Dawgs” posts followed by Mark Richt is a good guy.

Yes, by all accounts, Mark Richt is a good guy, but I have never heard stories of Nick Saban, kicking kittens or Gus Malzahn, keeping food from children, or Mark Helfrich locking people in a basement.  The difference is, these guys don’t hang their hats on “being a good guy.”  They hang their hats on winning.

The Georgia Bulldogs under the leadership of Mark Richt, have won two SEC Championships.  The last one was in 2005, Nick Chubb was 10 years old when Georgia won that title.

I’m not one of those who jumps on a bandwagon to fire a coach.  I don’t think we are at that point, and people with much more influence than I must make those decisions.  However, I do believe that when someone is being guaranteed compensation of $3.2 million per year, plus bonuses,  it isn’t out of the question to expect victories.

A loss to South Carolina was hard to swallow.  A loss to Florida was embarrassing and a loss to Georgia Tech was unforgivable.  Something must change.

It seems as though every year our teams go on the field, in at least one game,  and appear to lack motivation,  have their heads in the game or have the killer instinct to put a game away.

This week, the excuse will be the letdown of not making it to the SEC Championship.  If Georgia had not lost the two games earlier in the season, we would not have had to depend on another team to stamp our ticket to Atlanta, we would have done it convincingly on our own.

Somewhere along the line, things aren’t clicking.  I don’t know if it is a lack of motivation, a lack of discipline, a lack of coaching, but the buck stops with Richt.  Trips to Orlando every January aren’t enough and this year, a trip to Orlando is probably out of our reach.

Every year we hear about that the Dawgs had one of the best recruiting classes in the nation.  Every year we are ranked with the elite and held up when we fall to a lesser team.

It’s time that the potential of a Mark Richt tenure meet an actuality.  Nine years is too long to wait for an SEC Championship and with the caliber of players who sign on to his teams, 13 years without at least playing for a National Championship is too long too.

The way I see it, 2015 is a must year for Richt, it is time to make the changes needed and take the team to a promised land that the players, students and fans deserve.

Being a good guy is important, but so is winning!