Do UGA fans deserve to be called out?

Was fan support lacking Saturday Between the Hedges? (Associated Press)

Was fan support lacking Saturday Between the Hedges? (Associated Press)

ESPN.com senior writer Ivan Maisel was at Saturday’s game in Athens and was impressed by what he saw on the field from the Georgia Bulldogs.

In fact, he was so impressed with Georgia, the only team that has played two ranked opponents so far, that he concluded that down the stretch if Mark Richt’s team “plays the way it played Saturday, it will contend for the Southeastern Conference East Division championship.”

But Maisel wasn’t impressed by the fan support in the stands at Sanford Stadium.

When Richt said after the game that he saw “an awful lot of really great ingredients on this football team,” Maisel noted that “when Georgia fans hear that, the only ingredient they reach for is a grain of salt. They shouldn’t. They should listen.”

Richt said he saw the toughness and resiliency of his team in the losing effort against South Carolina, but Maisel said, “Too bad his team’s fans didn’t. Judging by how long it took them to get SEC loud, they came to the game tentative. They didn’t come in expecting Georgia to play well. If Bulldogs fans are honest with themselves, they won’t point a finger until they’re standing in front of a mirror.”

He went on: “If the Georgia fans hit the pause button on their complaints about what their team hasn’t done, they might see a team that improved markedly from the one that lost to No. 5 Boise State, 35-21, last week. If the red-and-black faithful stop batting their eyes at Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen long enough, they might notice a Bulldogs team that fulfilled the essence of the breed.”

That’s a pretty devastating knock on a fan base that prides itself on its loyalty. But I’m not sure it’s fully justified.

After all, the Dogs looked pretty bad in the Georgia Dome against the Broncos and yet a poll last week found 65 percent of UGA fans still supported Richt despite all the doom and gloom and hot seat talk.

OK, I think probably because of the uninspired way the Dogs lost the previous week to Boise State (exacerbating a general malaise hanging over the program the past couple of seasons), the crowd at the South Carolina game did perhaps start out a bit tentative Saturday. The pregame wasn’t as loud as you would have expected at the season’s SEC home opener against Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks.

And the first half didn’t do much to get them excited, with the Dogs looking fine between the 20s but squandering opportunities to put the game away by having to settle for too many field goal attempts when they got in the red zone.

But once the offense started to get on track in the second half, the UGA fans were pretty loud and supportive. I’ll admit, I did wonder about those fans who packed up and started to leave when Carolina went up by 10, despite there being 3:12 left on the clock and Georgia having all three of its timeouts. You have to wonder whether those folks just come for the social experience and are more concerned with beating the traffic crush than backing the Dogs to the end.

But most of the crowd stayed put and stayed loud as Georgia narrowed the gap to 3 points, with the flood to the gates only really getting under way after the Dogs failed to recover the onside kick and the chance at one more comeback was lost.

I don’t think fan support is the problem at UGA. OK, maybe a lot of folks arrived at the stadium expecting the worst, but the place was still packed and the fans were into the game.

And while a loss is still a loss and “moral victories” generally mean nothing, most of the Georgia fans I’ve encountered actually came away from the South Carolina game feeling encouraged by what they saw — a promising team that fought hard, didn’t give up, and which lost mainly because of mistakes, not lack of effort or talent.

How about you? Do you think Maisel’s knock on the Georgia fans was unwarranted? Do you feel better about the Dogs’ chances this season than you did a week ago?

It’ll be interesting to see what the game day atmosphere is like this week with an underwhelming opponent coming to town. As of Monday, there were less than 500 tickets (which Coastal Carolina had returned) still available for the game. Will UGA’s streak of sold-out games continue? And how many folks holding tickets to the game will actually show up?

Hopefully, most of the seats will be filled. So what if this isn’t exactly a compelling match-up? It’s Saturday in Athens and a chance to see the Dogs playing Between the Hedges!

Join me there and let’s show Maisel and the rest of the college football crowd that Bulldogs fans are indeed loud and proud, no matter what.

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529 comments Add your comment

McDawg

September 13th, 2011
10:32 am

wah wah wah–i want my BCS trophy wah

DANG

September 13th, 2011
10:33 am

DANG

September 13th, 2011
10:33 am

General Ledger

September 13th, 2011
10:34 am

I think the fans were just apprehensive since the Boise game was so bad and the ones that were leaving were just fed up with all the mistakes. But, the stadium was full, so the support is there. If the fans didn’t care, these message boards wouldn’t be filled up.

DANG

September 13th, 2011
10:35 am

maybe if Maisle watched this team under these coaches over the past three years he would understand….

Paul H

September 13th, 2011
10:38 am

I think fans generally feel better about the Dogs right now than I EVER could’ve predicted given a loss to SC in a “must win” game. Seems the majority of the fans agree with Maisel in his assessment of the team right now.

But there is zero room left for moral victories. Have to beat the Mississippi’s to get some momentum going into Knoxville.

JaxDawg05

September 13th, 2011
10:39 am

Never thought I’d see the day when Georgia Bulldog fans would be compared to fickle, what have you done for me lately Florida Gator fans. Trust me Bill. All the loyal Dawg fans are where we always were, right behind their coach and team. We are Georgia.

Calhoundawg

September 13th, 2011
10:40 am

Losing a few games won’t hurt recruiting. Listening to a bunch of spoiled, whiny fans will. God Bless Coach Richt. God Bless georgia. Go Dawgs !!!!

DawginLex

September 13th, 2011
10:41 am

I agree 100% with Maisel.

Booing and moaning and groaning and whining does not help one bit. All it does is make you look like an idiot and takes the kids spirit down the tubes.

Those kids played their guts out last week.

Mistakes were made and it cost us the game.

McGarity is making a week to week evaluation. It is his job to do so and he takes it very seriously.

The best thing we can do is fill the stadium and support this team and let the results speak.

McGarity will make the right call at the end of the year.

Brandon

September 13th, 2011
10:44 am

I think some of the criticism is warranted. People don’t seem to take note that the SC game showed a real culture change in Athens which most coaches couldn’t pull off. Last year’s team would have been blown out had the game gone that way last year. Mistakes will get corrected and they will go on a run…GO DAWGS!!!

Top Row Dawg

September 13th, 2011
10:46 am

I’m hanging in there, bringing some new fans. Good opportunity for the casual fan to come have a Georgia experiance as we get back in the win column and salvage season.

juvenal

September 13th, 2011
10:46 am

one thing i have to say, never see your fans who leave early be wrong…….

JDawg

September 13th, 2011
10:48 am

I read the article yesterday and I though Maisel was way off base. Considering what we’ve been through the past two years, I felt the fans did an excellent job. In my section folks were standing most of the game and cheering hard.

Was it Auburn Black-out loud, no, but it was much better than what I was expecting after the Boise State Game. I was anxious about us even filling the seats and was very glad to see everyone come out and support the team.

For the first time in a couple of games, the team gave us something to cheer about. And I think the Dawg fans answered.

TBone

September 13th, 2011
10:49 am

I have quit going to see the Dawgs in Athens mainly because of the tackiness of the fans. I attended UGA during Hershel’s reign and friends that attended Clemson, Auburn, Tech, South Carolina etc. always harped on the obnoxiousness of UGA fans; I never really understood what they were talking about. The last game I saw was Arkansas last year and I will never forget the UGA fan in the end zone that saluted the Hogs by extending his middle finger and yelled FU to opponent at the end of the game. What a class act.

DLDawg

September 13th, 2011
10:50 am

These ‘moral victories’ mean nothing to a team and fans that expect ’scoreboard victories.’ Also ‘moral victories’ do not help much when this team is 1 and 9 against top 25 teams lately. So something or someone has got to change so this team, which has the talent, can turn this around and compete for a SEC title.

John, the real UGA fan

September 13th, 2011
10:51 am

Yes, I agree with you 100%. UGA fans are soooo fickle. Many of the most vocal ones are too drunk to find their seats. There are still loyal UGA fans. I”m one of them.
Just notice that these comments were made by someone who could be objective and in the know.
Instant gratification is growing rampant in college sports as well as our nation. This is just a symptom of the state of affairs in the USA.
Go, Dawgs!

All I hear from CMR...

September 13th, 2011
10:52 am

…is the same thing my kids hear when I talk to them, and that is BLAH, BLAH, BLAH – when we want Maisal’s opinion we will ask for it…

DLDawg

September 13th, 2011
10:53 am

and GOOO Dawgs!

I-DOG

September 13th, 2011
10:53 am

We are 7-10 in SEC play (including games against Vandy and KY) because our fans our bad?

I don’t like booing and I don’t like leaving early (unless maybe you have a young child with you like a 5 year old at their first UGA game), but Bill, lets not blame the customer for the poor product.

Lew

September 13th, 2011
10:54 am

Problem is that there are always signs of greatness from this team. They just can’t put it all together. Go Dawgs!

Pat Bound

September 13th, 2011
10:54 am

I’m pretty sure East Carolina played #12 South Carolina and #13 Virginia Tech in their first 2 weeks. So let’s stop bringing the Top 25 thing up. Also Richt and McGarrity scheduled that Boise game so it’s not like that came at the worst possible time.

Also what was worse about that loss was that South Carolina played terrible and Georgia played really well (compared to week 1) – and they still couldn’t get it done. Taking moral victories after a loss to SOUTH CAROLINA is definitely something new.

And I still can't believe some of the bozos on these blogs...

September 13th, 2011
10:54 am

…who still think BVG leaving UGA is when the downfall began…yeah Freedawg, I am talkiing to you…

59bulldawg

September 13th, 2011
10:58 am

It’s easy to come away with a skewed picture if you just pop into Athens for a single game. He needs to do a great deal more research before giving anyone any advice.

I-DOG

September 13th, 2011
10:59 am

Why is Aaron Murray like all Arab nations other than Egypt?

He doesn’t recognize the existance of Israel (troupe that is). He had Izzy wide open on a 10 yard out, but instead Murray chose to throw into double coverage in the middle of the field for a crucial turnover.

I actually like Murray quite a bit and think he can become a good QB, I don’t think he has played well in big games thus far in his career. I wish we would run 2 planned running plays for him each half as it would add an entirely new dimension to our offense and I think it would be successful.

Apologies to Murray and his family for the joke, I just couldn’t resist a little levity in these dark times for UGA football.

jarvis

September 13th, 2011
10:59 am

I have two choices as a sports consumer when I’m displeased with what the way things are going.

1. Boo
2. Stop donating and buying tickets.

I’m pretty sure I know which one the Athletic Department would prefer.

harold

September 13th, 2011
11:00 am

THE FACTS:
FACT: RICHT IS 14-15 IN HIS LAST 29 GAMES?
FACT:RICHT 1-9 VERSUS RANKED OPPONENTS HIS LAST 10 GAMES?
FACT: RICHT HAS NOT BEEN TO THE SEC TITLE GAME IN SIX YEARS?
FACT: RICHT CONSISTENTLY HAS TOP 10 RECRUITING CLASSES BUT UGA IS NEVER TOP 10
FACT: RICHT SHOULD HAVE HIRED JOHN CHAVIS “IMMEDIATELY” AFTER HE LEFT UT?
FACT: RICHT HAS NOT WON A BCS TITLE LIKE TENNESSEE, BAMA, FLA. LSU?
FACT: HE HAS NEVER PLAYED FOR THE TITLE?
FACT: KIRBY SMART “REJECTED” RICHT/UGA TO STAY WITH A CHAMPIONSHIP PROGRAM?
FACT: GEORGIA HAS ONE OF THE WORST COACHING STAFF’S IN THE SEC!
FACT: UGA TALKS DREAM TEAMS WHILE BAMA, LSU, AUB, FLA, WIN THEM!
FACT: RICHT SHOULD HAVE TERMINATED BOBO AFTER UCF LOSS?
FACT: UGA FANS ARE GETTING CAUGHT UP IN “EFFORT” & COMPETING NOT WINS? WHY?
FACT: MARK RICHT IS A NICE MAN!
FACT: UNFORTUNATELY IT IS TIME FOR RICHT TO GO!

Sam Robards, Dawg Fan

September 13th, 2011
11:01 am

I think Maisel’s right. The fans need to get their heads out of their @sses. Yeah, it sucks to lose, but when you come in to the game with that attitude (as was the case here), it shows.

And it affects the players and coaches. A huge part of football is the mental component, and when your fans are just as likely to slap you as hug you, it affects how you play.

As I said, we may lose, but it shouldn’t be in part because the fans showed up with a sense of apathy or pessimism.

True fans don’t give up on their team, players or coaches. All coaches face downturns. No team is perfect all the time. And every player makes mistakes. The fans are supposed to support their team through thick and thin and not let records or anything else stop them, ESPECIALLY if you’re physically at the game.

I haven’t been able to go between the hedge since 2004, and it pretty much makes me sick when fans leave games early because we’re losing.

Sorry to go on a rant, but crappy fan support really chaps my @ss…

Let the young men play

September 13th, 2011
11:02 am

The next UGA coach should get about 6 million dollars a year. 100 k to coach the team and another 5.9 million for him and his family to put up with the Bulldog Nation.

duronimo

September 13th, 2011
11:02 am

So the Georgia fan base needs to prove something to a writer who liked the way Georgia lost? Georgia fans span generations. It’s not one game …. it’s the body of work that’s under scrutiny. Over the past two years, only Vanderbilt has had a worse record in the SEC. UGA fans are reacting to facts not the single game impressions of a drunken writer. We own no one an explanation. But, go ahead and kiss his “football expert” butt if you are so inclined.You already have egg on your face by taking this seriously.

Dontsufferfools

September 13th, 2011
11:04 am

This is what happens when losing starts….more opinions than points. I’m not sure how an occasional visitor to any stadium can judge a fan base. Georgia fans have long been “show me first” fans. Going ballistic before kickoff in competition with pregame video board never helps anyway. During the SC game the stadium got as loud as I have ever heard it several times.

Kramer

September 13th, 2011
11:05 am

I am a die hard UGA fan and my opinion is we are full of fans who know nothing about the game, expect every year to be a National title and anything not close to this result is failure and we should fire the coach. This team is young, real young and if anyone thinks Richt getting fired will help this program you are a complete idiot! Ask yourself this, how many players would we lose from last years class and how many will we lose for the 2012 class that is building nicely? Not to mention, who would replace Richt? For once someone at ESPN is right and the idiots need to get an understanding of what is best for our future or go jump on the Alabama of LSU bandwaggon.

like I see it

September 13th, 2011
11:06 am

I agree with I-Dog, don’t blame the buyer for the poor product. I graduated in 95 and am a die hard Dawg, but the talk of ‘heading in the right direction’ gets old, at some point you have to reach the destination. Go Dawgs!

Dawgy Due

September 13th, 2011
11:07 am

I agree with this gentlemans assessment. Georgia has plenty of talent. Mistakes costs us this game.

Sam Robards, Dawg Fan

September 13th, 2011
11:07 am

To kinda follow up on this, there’s really nothing to get depressed about. It’s a game, for goodness sake. Whether we win or lose doesn’t determine whether or not you keep your job, have kids or get married. It doesn’t affect your spiritual standing because, let’s be honest, God doesn’t care about college football.

So for those of you getting morose, lighten up!

Alphare

September 13th, 2011
11:07 am

CMR has a much better record than Dooley, yet most UGA fans treat Dooley like some kind of god figure.

If Dooley can stay as UGA head coach for 25 years, why would you guys question CMR’s job?

BTW, Dooley became AD after coaching, how do you guys plan to keep CMR?

The Ghost of Wally Butts

September 13th, 2011
11:07 am

Well, what if…instead of booing, we emulated the current UGA players?

We could grow our hair long, beat our chests – even after lousy plays – and happily dance up and down to gansta rap music, even while behind on the scoreboard.

Would that make the ESPN expert happy?

icallbs

September 13th, 2011
11:08 am

Some sportswriter does a fly-by and makes a judgement based on a one-game experience. I have been a consistent Richt supporter. I am still hopeful he can turn it around, but to suggest that the fans have no basis for concern is incredibly ignorant of recent history and some hard facts, like say win-loss records including total games, SEC, against ranked teams, etc. About all we have to hold on to right now is that we beat GT almost every year – big whup.

At some point the head coach HAS to be accountable. We’re there.

KeepDreaming

September 13th, 2011
11:08 am

Yes, I do believe UGA fans can be fair-weathered at times, but I do believe most of the “Mark Richt Hot Seat” talks stems from the MEDIA! The media is constantly looking for story lines, so why not hype up the Mark Richt hot seat talk? That will get the Bulldog faithful all rowdy, and the rest of the country listening! Fact is that if Richt ends up leaving UGA, he will have no problem getting another job at another fine program in the country. However, I do believe that Richt will retain his job, and possibly still lead us to the SEC Championship Game (we wont beat Bama or LSU). Still a pretty good season IMO.

It is really doubtful that the sellout...

September 13th, 2011
11:09 am

…streak is continued this weekend, unless the university lies – there are so many tickets on craigslist by season ticket holders and no one is buying from there, so the chance that those other 500 tickets returned by CC being sold is slim to none…so, it appears the streak is over, unless somebody lies. I have two excellent seats that I cannot use (I have to go to a wedding), and I cannot even give them away to this game…

But, I also have excellent tickets to the Clemson/Auburn game and I can’t seem to give them away, either (see previous wedding reason).

Finally, and who would have thunk it, but I have tickets to the Tech/KS game, too, and I was able to sell them…

Not a good weekend for me with this dang wedding…

treyingeorgia

September 13th, 2011
11:09 am

Why would anyone want Mullen is beyond me…. I don’t like his spread offense either– just another variation of the high school offense at Tech. You can’t play major college football and have extended success with that offense… and Florida was the exception to a degree, a once in a generation team with a QB whose talents fit like a glove… Georgia fans are tired of undisciplined, lack of fundamentals and stupid play… that is the issue we all have… When a defensive back plays 8-10 yrds off the ball in a weak azz zone my grandmother could catch a ball in that’s a problem.. penalties, blown assignments that is the issue we have… enough of the chest thumping antics when you make a play your supposed to make…. that’s the crap we are tired of seeing..

TXDawg3

September 13th, 2011
11:10 am

Nevertheless, maybe the UGA fans that are so utterly critical should take a moment and reflect…

No real DAWG fan likes what has happened to our beloved team over the last three years, but how is whining like a sick puppy going to help? How is verbally assaulting our coaches and players on a daily basis going to provide a positive impact?

For those that want to get rid of the coaching staff, what would your life look like if all of your wants and desires happened (I can’t help but think of Garth Brooks song “Unanswered Prayers” here)?
What if you get your way? What would UGA look like then? What if that coach doesn’t meet your
expectations in a short time frame? What if the same degree of criticism was applied to your life and job? Would you still be standing? Be honest with yourself…

Exhortation in the form of encouragement will have a greater impact than hostile criticism.

Stafford Infection

September 13th, 2011
11:11 am

Great Article! Simple yet unfortunate fact: UGA fans are unsupportive of Mark Richt. Why? Because he spoiled us. and we weren’t used to it. All through the 80’s (post 82) and 90’s the Dawgs barely kept their heads above water in the SEC, then Richt comes in and changes the entire culture of the program. We start winning 10 games a year, getting to SEC Championships, and playing in BCS bowls. Now, what does he get for his effort? Unloyal, ‘johnny come lately,’ fans whose lack of historical reference is only exceeded by their lack of formal education. All true dawg fans hang in there, we will have a good season yet.

Drago

September 13th, 2011
11:11 am

I think complaining and whining have become the “in vogue” thing to do. Sports radio and ESPN are leading the way in giving fans the half of the facts that are exciting and most impactful. There are some things that need fixing, but the one factor that leads to success in anything is consistency especially in the coaching staff. Things still have a chance to get better. But, we throw the baby out with the bathwater and things will get a lot worse before they get better.

pragmatic

September 13th, 2011
11:11 am

Bottom line the dogs are middle of the pack in the SEC East and probably lower half in the SEC. The fans are good, games are sold out and fans still give generously to the program. Not many schools would squack at the budget generated at UGA. With the teams recent record against good teams I think there is no way to fault the fans. Look at the Costal Carolina game this week. It is sold out and nobody can imagine it being anything but a scrimmage. To get people to put out a few hundred bucks to take the family to a game like this says something.

Stafford Infection

September 13th, 2011
11:14 am

Sold out and FULL are two very different things.

Cody

September 13th, 2011
11:15 am

Look maybe 30% are at the game for the social event and to tailgate with old friends. I could care less if they leave and go back to the little tents and start drinking and talking about the play calling. There are still a vast majority of the fans who support the team and will stay till the end-

BuzzsawDawg

September 13th, 2011
11:15 am

Agree with earlier poster that anyone criticizing the fan base in general had better have the perspective of the entire Richt reign. He is a fine person and someone you want to have as the face of your program, but the trends of the past few years are very disheartening. The SC game was yet another example of a team finding a way to lose, overcoming what was an overall great effort.

Unless you’ve poured your heart (and money) into this program for the past 4-5 years, at the least, you can’t fully appreciate the UGA fan’s perspective right now. And btw, as a long-standing season ticket holder and attendee, I thought Sanford was still rocking until SC’s final first down made it a fait accompli.

booo-urns!

September 13th, 2011
11:15 am

Maisel is a clown. Nice objective analysis there bozo.

Dustin

September 13th, 2011
11:16 am

I have been very embarassed by UGA fans the last few years. I have come to the conclusion, we have some of the worst fans in the SEC and they use the game as an excuse to get drunk. These are young men playing a sport and should never be booed by their own fans. If you don’t want to support the program, don’t by the tickets, but don’t boo your players!!

alanier

September 13th, 2011
11:16 am

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