Back when Elvis died, the paper sent me to Memphis and Tupelo. One of the folks I encountered in Elvis’ hometown was a woman who had been close to the King and wore one of those lightning bolt TLC (Tender Loving Care) necklaces he gave his female friends. The equivalent for his male buddies was one that said TCB (Taking Care of Business).
TCB. Those initials stand for words to live by for the Georgia Bulldogs right now. In other words, they need to focus on one thing and one thing only: beating the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets.
Not the upcoming meeting with Alabama in the Georgia Dome.
Not the chances of playing for a BCS national championship if they manage to knock off the Crimson Tide.
Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech.
Mark Richt kept repeating that mantra in his Sunday night teleconference with laser-like focus despite the repeated efforts of reporters to get him to even acknowledge that he’d watched the Baylor-Kansas State or Stanford-Oregon games Saturday night that suddenly catapulted the winner of the SEC Championship back into contention for this year’s BCS showdown in Miami.
Richt refused to be lured off his single-minded conversational track because he recognizes what his team is facing this week.
The biggest challenge for the Dogs as the annual game with Tech approaches is not how to deal with the dreaded triple-option — having schemed for it already the past two years, Todd Grantham has a pretty good idea of what needs to be done there. And after facing the similar (though not identical) Georgia Southern attack, even his freshman players who haven’t gone up against Paul Johnson’s attack before have a much better feel for what they need to do.
No, the first — and, for the moment, the biggest — obstacle the Bulldogs must hurdle if they really want their dreams for this season to come true is shutting out all the SEC Championship and BCS chatter that will be tweeted at them from all sides and working up a full-blooded frenzy of hatred for the team from North Avenue.
Because you can bet the Jackets will come to town fired up even more than usual over the possibility of wrecking the Bulldogs’ postseason goals.
The theme of the week for the Jackets is already being recited by Tech fans on their Internet gathering sites: “WE CAN RUIN THEIR SEASON.”
That has them more excited than even the possibility of stumbling into a spot in the ACC championship game, because 365 days a year the thing that Tech players and fans think about more than anything else is beating Georgia. And if they can ruin a special season while they’re at it, even better.
Of course, you can’t expect Georgia’s players not to be excited by their team’s rise to No. 3 in the latest BCS standings, right behind Notre Dame and Alabama, or the prospect of playing their way into a chance at winning the crystal football.
They’re kids and it’s only natural if some of them come down with a bad case of BCS fever this week.
But what they need to keep foremost in their minds is the cold, hard reality that if they don’t beat Tech they’ll never get a chance at that dream rematch with the Fighting Irish for another national championship.
Sure, they could still win the SEC Championship even if the unthinkable somehow happened Between the Hedges this week, but a two-loss SEC champ isn’t going to play for the national title this year.
As Richt noted Sunday, “That’s the whole key to football is to be able to focus on the only thing that really matters and that’s this week’s game.”
Thankfully, some of the team elders have been quick to note what’s truly important this week. As Alec Ogletree put it after Saturday’s win over Georgia Southern: “We have to get back to practice and focus on this week’s game plan, and then the week after focus on Atlanta. It’s week by week, and we can’t get ahead of ourselves.”
Wide receiver Rhett McGowan probably summed it up best when he tweeted: “Let’s take care of business? Playoffs start now!”
And Georgia Tech is the first step.
FANS BACK IN BLACK?
A movement has started among UGA students to have fans stage a “blackout” at Sanford Stadium for the Tech game.
You can pretty much bet the house that the Georgia team will be in its familiar red home jerseys, but by early Sunday I’d already heard from the UGA Paintline (the guys who paint their torsos for each home game) and other students asking me to spread the word that they want fans to wear black for the game.
What do you think of that idea? A fun way to get everyone revved up, or a needless gimmick? I mean, do we really need any additional enticement to be ready to cheer on the Dogs against the hated insects from Atlanta?
Feel free to share your views in the comments.
Go Dawgs! Beat Tech!
Got some Hate Week thoughts on the upcoming game with Georgia Tech? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg