Alright Bulldog fans, I hope the bye week provided you the opportunity to recharge your batteries because the 2019 Georgia-Florida game beckons and the stakes couldn’t be any higher. The winner of Saturday’s game will exit Jacksonville with the inside position to making it to Atlanta for the SEC Championship and remain in the chase for the playoff. While the loser will be forced to recalibrate their goals for the remainder of the season.
Oh my, don’t you know the intensity in the stadium and on the field at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday is going to be off the charts. As our cover states, it’s time to eat.
I went with Uga X on the cover because repeatedly our mascot is named the best in the country. However, it was Uga’s jersey that really appealed to me.
The 150-year patch celebrates the greatest sport on the planet as far as I’m concerned. There is nothing better than college football as it combines student-athletes love and dedication to their sport with the never-wavering support of fans to their team and university. To say college football is special is certainly an understatement. It has and will always provide special moments, so when toe meets leather on Saturday take a moment to reflect on its incredible meaning.
Also on Uga’s jersey, is the SEC logo. I’m certainly biased, but the brand of football played in the Southeastern Conference is unmatched. While all college teams have great support from fans and boosters, it doesn’t get any better than places like Athens, Baton Rouge, and Tuscaloosa, just to name a few. Each Saturday, games like last week’s Auburn-LSU battle showcase the physicality and athleticism played in our conference. And this Saturday, the contest between our Bulldogs and the Gators is the one that football lovers across the nation will be sure to watch because they can be guaranteed a hard-hitting, fight to the end slugfest. Simply put, it does mean more in the SEC.
Uga’s jersey also includes the Nike swoosh logo, which is a reminder of how college football has become a massive enterprise. Coaches at top universities are paid like Fortune 500 CEOs and travel around in jets and helicopters. Yes, it’s a little ridiculous and it drives Bulldawg Illustrated’s Jeff Dantzler crazy that university teams are now referred to as brands. Who knows where the NCAA is heading with paying athletes, but with the money that is generated it sure seems prudent to provide student-athletes with additional stipends.
Bottom line, our mascot looks darn good on our cover and I hope gets you fired up for Saturday’s game. Being a native of St. Simons, beating Florida is always No. 1 on my list. And this off-season, Florida’s head coach Dan Mullen taunted Georgia with several sarcastic remarks. My hope is that Kirby Smart and his team quickly wipe the smirk off Mullen’s face. It won’t be easy though because the Gators are playing sound football. Without a doubt, Georgia’s go to guys must rise to the occasion for the Dawgs to get the victory. As you go through this issue, please notice the player photos that I strategically chose.
On offense, Jake Fromm and D’Andre Swift must lead the way and Coach Smart must put them in position to shine. And Andrew Thomas needs to get his offensive line brethren to dig deep for what promises to be a war in the trenches.
On defense, south Georgia’s Richard LeCounte is the key in my opinion since Florida’s receivers are so stellar. For three years, Coach Smart has taught him the importance of playing with discipline. You can bet Dan Mullen knows LeCounte sometimes bites on playing the run rather than his number one responsibility as a safety, which is to never let the play get behind you. It’s time for LeCounte to step-up and I fully expect him to.
Time to eat, Bulldog Nation!
I hope you will enjoy this issue of Bulldawg Illustrated as it is full of great content. I mentioned the photos of players in this issue above, and want to express my gratitude to our sports photographers Greg Poole and Rob Saye for the job they did in the sloppy conditions of the Georgia-Kentucky game. The rain and wind were terrible that day and night in Athens, but our guys still captured quality images. And kudos also goes to all the Georgia fans that braved the elements that evening.
As I wrap things up, I’m happy to report I started this Sunday morning in the ocean off of East Beach on St. Simons Island. What better way to start Georgia-Florida week. I can tell you that everyone in the Golden Isles is ready to yet again host the Bulldog Nation in the coming days. The Georgia-Florida game means so much to the community down here, so you can imagine folks were elated to hear the news that the game will remain in Jacksonville through 2023 with an option to extend to 2025.
Also, it appears Georgia (and Florida) will appeal to the NCAA to get a waiver that will allow the home team some recruiting privileges in Jacksonville. On the topic, Loran Smith (page 53) opines about the history of the game being down in Jacksonville and the hardball negotiation it took for Georgia to be treated fairly over the decades. Loran also raises the question if it is time to take the series to home-and-home.
For now, the Georgia-Florida game, with 50/50 ticket distribution, remains one of college football’s greatest traditions. Like every year, soak up the holiday that it is and head to the coast because it’s time to eat. Go Dawgs!!