Bitter End to a Strange Strange Season
My daughter is a pharmacist. One of her two bosses is one of the biggest Tech fans in existence. Someone asked me what it was like for her to go to work after losing to Georgia Tech. I replied, “I don’t know. She’s only worked there six years.”
Perhaps that will put some perspective on the events of Saturday, but it doesn’t make the pill any easier to swallow. The game seemed eerily like the Florida game to me by the middle of the second quarter. We had chances to put the game away early and squelch the underdogs and did not do it and suddenly we were in a fight for our collective lives. In one of the weirdest games I have ever seen, Tech outfought us. They were lucky to be in the game, but so were we. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing as Nick Chubb had the ball pop away from him and then just a few minutes later, streaking toward the opposite goal line, Sony Michel fumbled the ball into the end zone. But I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I looked up at Damien Swan, with his own personal escort, was sprinting toward the Tech goal line. I refused to celebrate until we lined up to kick the extra point.
Like I said, it was a weird game.
There should really be no excuses for losing to Georgia Tech. The athletes they are able to recruit don’t compare to the athletes we are able to sign. There is a huge disparity in the talent level—isn’t there?
Tech plays in an inferior league. All year long we insisted that if we played their schedule we would be undefeated and that if they had played in the mighty SEC and gone up against the teams on our schedule that they would be 4-7 at best. Hadn’t we?
Now I realize the coaches hadn’t said those sorts of things leading up to the game. No, they had said all the right things and insisted that Tech was the only focus of the week and that the team wasn’t going to be affected by the Arkansas loss. They gave Tech all due respect and insisted that they knew they were a worthy opponent. But how can Tech, with their players, facilities, fan base and level of competition be a worthy opponent? How can they take Georgia into overtime last year and then defeat the Dawgs between the hedges this year?
Overachievers? Underachievers? Misguided perceptions? All of the above?
I will readily admit that I care way too much about what the Georgia team does on the football field every Saturday. I do. I live and die with every snap and every game and it is not reasonable, nor healthy nor what a grown man should be doing. During the Auburn game I was embarrassing myself so much by my reaction to the referees calls that I had to sit myself down for a long talking to.
I will also admit that my hate for the team the inimitable Dan Magill referred to simply as “The Enemy” is unhealthy and unreasonable and embarrassing at times. That’s not an urban legend about the “To Hell With Tech” tattoo I once had drawn on my derriere. Fifty people on Duval Street in Key West were witness to the event. Saturday’s game made me sick at my stomach. And I gave up. I did. When Tech scored late in the fourth quarter and then we stood and watched the football bounce on the green grass on the ensuing kick-off I left the stadium in disgust and because I just couldn’t bear to watch the scholar-athletes from the Trade School act like Ferguson looters and destroy our hallowed hedges like they do once a decade. Much like their belligerent coach, they don’t seem to have enough class to act like they have been there before. I guess it is because usually nobody on the team has.
My lovely wife, Lisa, and I were a hundred yards up Ag Hill when the stadium erupted. We stopped with twenty others who were trying to beat the traffic to the Atlanta Highway and watched the last drive on someone’s tailgate television. If we had won I might have stayed around and found out the names of our gracious hosts.
When Hutson Mason threw the touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell I dropped to my knees and fell face first into the turf, offering thanks to God for allowing me to be born a Bulldog. I didn’t see the ensuing pooch kick which was the biggest blunder of Coach Mark Richt’s career. I have not seen the replay and I never intend to. I did see the Tech quarterback scramble through our defense and down the sideline into field goal range and I did see the Tech kicker make an improbable 53 yard field goal. I saw Tech score what would turn out to be the winning touchdown and I saw Preacher Ray Drew block the PAT, which I thought would allow us to emerge victorious, despite the fact that we didn’t deserve victory on this day.
And then I saw Hutson Mason throw the last pass of his abbreviated career as Georgia’s starting quarterback directly into the arms of the Tech defender. I don’t think Mason will ever get over it. I don’t think I will either, but at least he had the guts to still be on the field throwing while I was tucking my tail and heading for the car.
It has been a season of could-have-beens. Don’t forget that between the bowl game last year and the beginning of the season Coach Richt was forced to dismiss most of the defensive secondary and deal with a lot of other off-field garbage. Jimbo Fisher he ain’t, and I, for one, and thankful for that. Great wins over Arkansas and Missouri and Auburn interspersed with an awful loss to South Carolina and Florida and up until 20 hours before we kicked off against Tech we were still in the hunt for the National Championship.
Did Arkansas’s loss affect our Saturday game? Would it have been a different story if we were en route to Atlanta? Who knows? Those are mostly 20 year-old kids. Who knows what makes them tick?
All I know is that this team and these players have provided me with a lot of excitement over the past 14 weeks and a lot of good times and a million memories. I am proud to be a Georgia Bulldog and I wouldn’t pull for Georgia Tech with two engines out on the team plane. They beat us Saturday. They outplayed us and earned the victory, but I still wouldn’t trade teams or seasons or coaches or cheerleaders with a single pimple-faced one of them.
I’m not thinking I’ll be traveling to a bowl game this year, but look for me in Sanford Stadium on September 5 when we take on the Louisiana Monroe War Hawks. God willing, I’ll be the good-looking guy in the red shirt.
Darrell Huckaby is an author, educator and syndicated newspaper columnist. Visit his website at Dhuck08@bellsouth.net.