BIG HAIRY BLAWG: Of SEC East Rivalries

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BIG HAIRY BLAWG: Of SEC East Rivalries

Brian Herrien appears to drag the entire Tennessee defense
Brian Herrien appears to drag the entire Tennessee defense

South Carolina was only a real rival in the minds of Georgia fans the years they beat us, especially the strong end of the Spurrier era in Columbia. Ranking our rivals at the minute every year, as I have for years on BIG HAIRY BLAWG (Established 2007) and talking about rivalry as much as I do, I’ve thought it through. There are different levels and types of rivalries. Nothing supplants an ancient rivalry like Georgia-Auburn, the oldest in the Deep South, where college football matters the most. Nothing tops a special rivalry such as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Nothing matters more than a state rivalry, like Clean, Old-fashioned Hate for the Governor’s Cup.
When I went to Georgia (90-93 & 96-98), Tennessee was a huge rivalry game for us – not so much them – because they represented a tangible peg up the ladder in the SEC East. The Gators were two pegs up. When Donnan broke through and I touched the goalpost on Herty Field, when Richt kept it going with a Hobnail Boot, it mattered more to me because of all the syrupy sweet fake better luck next week you have a good team though Hillbilly mountain folk I’d endured. I hate that orange, hate those checkerboards, hate that stupid hound dog as much as Larry Munson did…maybe more. Because I didn’t have the depth of (any positive) experiences from the glory years. A Texan who grew up watching the Dallas Cowboys in Georgia and Louisiana and then Georgia again, I was truly, as they say, fresh meat in 1990. Gator bait.
And in the 1990s, Tennessee was suddenly a big rival and went 9-0 against Georgia. Ouch!!! I show up in Athens and not only does the nasty, horrid Gators tyranny begin and endure, but we can’t even get past the lesser Vols early in the year. We’d be 4-0, often and then…Better luck next year…
Then the years turned like the, so sorry about your rivalry luck UT, tide. Dawgs went 6-4 in the 2000s. Then we won five-in-a-row up until Richt’s final meeting.
Tennessee has one more SEC ring (13) than Georgia (12), 2nd and 3rd in the league to Bama (26). Having been played only twenty-one times before the SEC split into divisions, the Georgia-Tennessee series is now 21-23-2 and would have been notched at 22-22-2 had we simply knocked that ball down, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.”
If a bridge upon, I may have jumped before I gained my senses. See my buddy Trey Shelton – of Party Dawgs fame – who I teamed up with to do the ATHENS LEGACY parties, was sucker punched and knocked out at Rocky Top for wearing the wrong hat. I knew that. The day before the big party, last year, I was stewing when he told me about it in detail. Already angry. Swirling emotions.
The week prior, I had been in Oxford with my face melting as we trailed 45-0. I was a good bit displeased with that showing. Chubb was looking to be out again, though he’d actually get one carry, and they, the Big Orange Nation were talking. They said he was scared to play. I was like, don’t fight, don’t fight, don’t fight.
Never scared, Trey had emergency appendix surgery soon before the event and was still man enough to make the start of our party, and ATHENS LEGACY (2016) was a huge bar throwdown. We had $1 16oz Coors Light Cans, cheap Jameson or Red Dawg shots. It was ridiculous and pretty great and when it got late, Jacob Eason lived up to all the hype. Touchdown!
Only I was left in charge, with Trey having had to leave for obvious preservation reasons. The internet and the phones went out completely on that city block. So many folks tweeted about it, I suppose, it shut it all down. We actually had no idea that we lost…We actually celebrated…a horrible defeat!
I, the in-charge guy, had been in a very malicious way (which I regret) taunting a long-haired Tennessee dude wearing overalls at the time. And suddenly…it was a blank screen. No phones either. No info, so I sprinted all the way up to the next block and ran inside a business and asked if Georgia won and was told we did and sprinted all the way back to the bar and announced: “DAWGS WIN.”
Mortified doesn’t begin to describe my feelings fifteen minutes later when I left and found out. Disbelief, physical sickness, I was nearly suicidal, and I’m not exaggerating and only wish I were. I was messed up in the head for weeks and even had to reevaluate my level of extreme fandom.
Oh yeah, Trey and I are having another ATHENS LEGACY party. This time it is pregame only the day of the Georgia-South Carolina game. Flanagan’s Downtown Athens, because the old place is cursed, cursed I tell ya.
Hope to see you there 11/4. And hope to see Chubb hanging out in the checkerboards, as the Dawgs win on, “…good old Rocky Top.”


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