Sunday, September 4, 2016

My Favorite Time of Year

Many baseball fans will say that spring is the best time of year. It is a great time too -- the earth emerges from the winter slumber, the birds are out (or back, in the North), and the baseball season is starting with spring training and Opening Day when everyone is even. 

It's a good argument, but it does not convince me for two reasons. First, it's the worst time in Atlanta for pollen and allergies. Atlanta regularly puts up pollen counts in the several thousands -- where anything over 90 is considered high and hitting 1500 is "extremely high," it's not uncommon for us to have weeks at a time into that extremely high category.

The other reason for me is that I love college football -- especially Georgia football. I've been a season ticket holder at UGA since 2007, which was about the time I started having enough expendable income to donate sufficiently enough to get tickets. 

The way UGA does its tickets is this: you have to donate money to the athletic fund specifically for the football program. Each dollar given is a "point." Those points accumulate over your life and give you priority for season tickets and to get away-game tickets. Usually, to get season tickets, you'll have to give about $500 to $1000 previously. When I was single and not collecting cards, I gave a pretty sizeable amount of money each year to push my points up quickly so I could start getting tickets for away games. Now, I give enough each year to keep my tickets where they are. 

Georgia football this year is an interesting story. For those of you who don't know or don't pay attention in the way that the obsessives here in Georgia and the South generally do, UGA changed coaches last December despite a 9-win regular season and Mark Richt's 15-year-long tenure at UGA being incredibly successful. Richt was replaced by long-time Alabama defensive coordinator -- and UGA graduate -- Kirby Smart. 

The move was extremely divisive for many months within the fan base, and a number of people are still complaining about it. To those people, they believed either (a) you shouldn't fire a highly successful coach because you don't know if you'll do better; or, (b) you shouldn't fire a successful coach who was a strong Christian. I personally thought both of these reasons were lacking, as even successful coaches can get complacent and get to a point where they think about how to do "enough" rather than doing what was needed to win them all.

That's a long way to saying that I was excited for Kirby's appointment as coach. I remember him as the sort-of skinny safety and special teams player who wore number 16 and came to UGA from Bainbridge, Georgia. I was hopeful that he would bring more discipline to how the players played on the field and that he would be able to continue being a force in recruiting.

The Kirby Smart era opened yesterday at the Georgia Dome here in Atlanta. 

This was during the pregame festivities. The Georgia Redcoat Marching band was running through an abbreviated version of its pregame show. My wife's uncle invited me to go along with him since his older brother is not feeling well enough now to go to the games.

You can see a fair number of empty seats in this photo, but keep in mind that this was over 20 minutes before kickoff.

Georgia played pretty well yesterday against the ACC's runner-up in 2015 to Clemson, the North Carolina Tar Heels. The defense was solid though unspectacular -- it did not force any turnovers and had a couple of crucial breakdowns that allowed UNC to score points. On the other hand, UNC averaged 486.9 yards per game on offense last year but only could total 315 yards yesterday.

On offense, the game was entirely the Nick Chubb show. Last year, Chubb suffered a gruesome knee injury against the University of Tennessee on Tennessee's field made of gum wrappers, baling wire, and stickum. 

Seriously, Tennessee's field has claimed so many knees over the years and, making matters worse, it is poorly maintained. It became such an issue last year that the athletic department actually had to issue a statement about understanding that it is an issue.

There are four knee ligaments -- the ACL (anterior cruciate), the PCL (posterior cruciate), the MCL (medial collateral), and the LCL (lateral collateral). The ACL controls rotation and forward movement of the tibia. The PCL controls backward movement of the tibia. The MCL gives stability to the inner knee, and the LCL gives stability to the outer knee. As most sports fans know, tearing the ACL is the bad one and has the longest rehabilitation period. 

Despite how horrible Chubb's injury looked, he was incredibly lucky as well. While he missed the rest of the season last year due to the injury, he did not tear his ACL. He tore up the rest of his ligaments, though, so he did miss about 8 months of training. But, the guy is such a beast that even in the spring he was running through non-contact drills with the rest of his teammates. By the time the first scrimmage came about in early August, he was ready to take contact.

Also despite the injury, it is pretty clear that Chubb had no limitations against UNC. He had the third-most carries in a game of his career -- 32 -- and he rushed for the second most yards in a game of his career -- 222 yards. That total was punctuated by his final carry of the game (dial it up to the 16:55 mark) -- a 55-yard TD run.

In all, it was a great way to start Kirby Smart's coaching career at Georgia. A win over a ranked opponent with Nick Chubb looking healthy and Jacob Eason looking like the real deal -- yes, please. 

Just give me the Victory Formation!

The next game I'm likely to attend is the game between Georgia and Tennessee in Athens on October 1. After that, I'll go to the Georgia/Florida game in Jacksonville followed by Georgia and Auburn in Athens. I hope I'll close the season out with an SEC Championship game, but that's a long ways away.

I'm just glad that the taste in my mouth today is not bitter.


  1. Not really a football fan. I watch from time to time, but if I had something else to watch I would..
    The odd time they'll play CIU football on TV here but I don't follow on either side of the border lol.

    I guess it's a product of growing up in a house where the sports on TV were golf and darts..

  2. Football isn't a real sport to me so...

  3. The last few weeks of November is my favorite time of the year. I get to look forward to one week off for Thanksgiving... and two weeks off for Christmas/New Years. Plus the Packers, Seahawks, and Sharks are all playing... and it's time to pull out all of my favorite hoodies.