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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Fine Day For Football

Well, Fitzmas is past. Miers is history. Bush’s next SCOTUS pick won’t be known til next week. For the first time in ages, I don’t have a big day-job or moonlighting weekend project. My wife’s out of town on business. My kid’s away at college. Fall has finally arrived. The day is cool, crisp and windy, what I used to think of in my student days as Nietzsche Weather, when you want to go find an abyss to laugh over.In sum, it is, as Chris Schenkel used to always say, a Fine Day for Football. So in a few hours, I’ll try to find something red and black to wear, and mosey over to the local sports bar to watch the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, Georgia versus Florida. Now to yankees and other outsiders, this rivalry probably sounds like the Bud Bowl or something–a drinking contest between two party schools.But it’s a serious thing down there, made more vicious, oddly enough, by the rivalry’s recent pattern of total domination by one team or the other.Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Georgia routinely won, often coming from behind to rout the Gators in the second half. At one point in early 80s, I watched the game with a work colleague who had gone to Florida. As the third quarter ended, Florida had a small lead, but Georgia had begun one of those soul-crushing long ball-control drives that were the hallmark of the Vince Dooley era, and my friend got up and turned off the television. “Don’t you want to watch the fourth quarter?” I asked. “I’ve been watching this fourth quarter for fifteen years,” he wearily replied. Sure enough, Georgia won. In the 90s, with the return to Gainesville of The Evil Genius (a.k.a., the Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier), Florida dominated the series, especially during the tenure in Athens of Spurrier’s polar opposite, the honorable but less-than-cerebral good-ol-boy Ray Goff (“If Georgia had to hire a Danny-Ford-type coach, they should have hired Danny Ford,” quoth one Dawg Fanatic friend of mine). With both universities beginning to establish themselves as regional academic powers, the intellectual gap on the football field was painful for Georgia fans.Now both teams have Genius coaches. Georgia is undefeated, but its quarterback and moral leader, D.J. Shockley, will miss the game with a sprained knee. If Georgia wins, the post-game assessments will write themselves, because Shockley’s replacement is a third-generation Dawg named Joe Tereshinski III, whose major role in his two previous years in Athens was as long snapper on punts. Either way, it ought to be fun. For once, Georgia is playing in the day’s marquee game. I won’t have to beg Mike the Bartender to find an obscure screen on which to watch my team. I can make barking noises on kickoffs without pretending to undergo a coughing fit. Yes, it’s a fine day for football.

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