After the always, needed bye-week, it’s certainly great to be back with our next issue of Bulldawg Illustrated. And this issue (Georgia-Florida) is always one of Team BI’s favorites, as our hometown (the Golden Isles) becomes the epicenter of the Bulldog Nation in the coming days.
Cheri and I arrived to St. Simons the Wednesday of the bye-week and to say the weather has been absolutely glorious is actually an understatement. It’s been incredible for days. With temperatures in the mid-70s and glistening skies, it didn’t take us long to remember how wonderful our area is during October and November. So there is my sales pitch, Bulldog fans. There’s still time to pull the trigger and hightail it this way for what should be another classic Georgia-Florida.
Of course, now I must delve into the massive elephant in the room, Brock Bowers’ injury. Unfortunately, our beloved Bulldogs must take the field in the coming weeks without their superstar tight end and leader. However, there should be no panic in my opinion, which is why I resurrected (for our cover) one of our Georgia teams’ mottos from a few years ago … Keep the Main Thing, The Main Thing.
In football terms, the meaning of this saying is fairly simple as far as I’m concerned. Focus on what you can control and by all means don’t worry about what you cannot. Football is a team sport and our Bulldogs have exemplified that better than anyone in the country the last few years.
Yes, losing Brock is a kick in the gut, but his teammates must now dig even deeper to perform at their highest level. And as Greg Poole astutely points out in his From the Field column (page 68), just last year the 2022 Dawgs were faced with something very similar when Nolan Smith was lost for the rest of the season during the Georgia-Florida game. The rest is history as Them Dawgs completed the perfect season (without one of their best players) to become back-to-back national champions … Woof, Woof, Woof.
So again, it’s fairly simple … Keep the Main Thing, The Main Thing and let’s all be primed and ready (on Saturday) to send this upstart Florida reptile team back to Gainesville without their tails. And I love the fact that the Gators arrive to Jax with the ability to control their own destiny by upsetting our Bulldogs. Bring it, the bigger the better is perfectly fine by me.
Speaking of bigger and better, this issue of BI certainly is both and has plenty to get your juices flowing for the 3:30 p.m. kickoff on the banks of the St. Johns River. Where shall I begin?
Our sports guys are packing heat in this issue. In his column, JD (on page 12) reminds everyone what winning the Georgia-Florida game has meant for both programs annual goal of competing in Atlanta for the SEC Championship on the first Saturday of December. Bottom line, you need to win this game or it’s very hard to backdoor your way into our league’s championship game (and beyond). And on page 22, BI Intern Clay Watkins lets his true St. Simons Island roots fly in his disdain for any and all things Orange and Blue. I only had to soften a few of his points, so not to disparage those nasty Gators too much. I know you will enjoy Clay’s take. And it reminded me of a column I wrote 25 years or so ago, where the headline read something like I would cheer for the Russians before the Gators. That one wouldn’t fly today with what is going on in the Ukraine, but it is still pretty amusing for a St. Simon Islanders’ not-so much love for Florida.
The BI camera made the trip to Nashville a few weeks ago and as I predicted that town truly did become Dawg City, USA. The Vandy stadium was probably 85% red. Give the ’Dores team credit, they played well, but our Dawgs (and their fans) left Nashville remaining undefeated. Enjoy those photos, starting on page 32.
Like most big issues of BI, our Social section is loaded with fun features. Enjoy the solid responses of our Georgia Girls (Claire Cronk, page 30, 31) and Proust Q&A (Zach Powell, page 60). Beyond being St. Simons Island residents, Claire and Zach love people, love to have a good time and are most satisfied when giving back to others.
The perfect trifecta, which is also the perfect segue to Loran Smith’s Grand Georgia Couple feature this issue (page 54). Bonney and Billy Shuman (also St. Simons residents) exemplify the above traits tenfold. They may be the most fun loving and generous folks Cheri and I know. And not surprisingly that has translated to great things for the University of Georgia. Enjoy getting to know Bonney and Billy. And I would be remiss not to thank Loran for all the hard work and diligence he has given this season for this series. And the beauty is that there are so many Grand Georgia Couples, so I can keep Loran at it for years to come.
Finally, don’t miss Hamilton Culpepper’s What’s the Word (pages 62 and 63). Hammy was on assignment for BI last week attending the inaugural Chick-fil-A Dawg Bowl 2023 fundraiser spearheaded by former Georgia head coach, Mark Richt. All proceeds from the bowling event go to research towards Parkinson’s and Crohn’s disease. As we all know in the Bulldog Nation, Coach Richt will forever be beloved, but I would say it’s even greater with the way he is fighting his own battle with Parkinson’s. Enjoy the photos from the event and reading about it. And the good news is you can still give by going to … http://give.uga.edu/funders/dawg-bowl-2023.
That’s going to do it for me. Oops, forgot one item.
Don’t miss Carter King’s MIXTAPE on page 58. The dude is a founding member of the Future Birds and is an absolute beast on stage, so not surprisingly the tunes he chose are darn solid. Thanks Carter for your participation. You performed your nearest duty magnificently.
Alright, Bulldog Nation … the Golden Isles area is ready for you. Keep the Main Thing, The Main Thing and let’s go smash those slithering Reptiles. Go Dawgs!!