Someone once dubbed the in-state rivalry between Georgia and Georgia Tech “Clean Old Fashioned Hate.”
Visit the putrid environs of the Yellow Jacket discussion boards, where Tech students and fans make ridiculously tacky comments about the state’s flagship university and its fans and athletes, and you might question just how “clean” it is.
But old fashioned? No, the rivalry between the Bulldogs and the Insects is as current as any social media meme: Check Twitter or Facebook or just talk to a supporter of either school during what’s known as “Hate Week.”
Yes, UGA has other football rivalries that mean more to the program since they’re conference games — Florida, especially. And the series hasn’t been as competitive as some of our other football rivalries in recent years as the Bulldogs have dominated the annual meeting with the North Avenue Trade School.
But despite that, the game with Tech is the one that the players and the Bulldog Nation least want to lose, which in my book pretty much defines a great rivalry. A win over Florida may be celebrated a lot more than a victory over Tech, but a loss to the Jackets, however rare, is just plain unacceptable.
Of course, along with the domination of the series by Georgia, there also are questions about whether Mark Richt’s Bulldogs can still get themselves riled up over the Jackets in what’s proved to be a disappointing season. Some, like my colleague Jeff Schultz, wonder whether Georgia now being officially out of the SEC race and having lost its starting quarterback might affect the Dogs’ morale and perhaps give Tech more motivation going into Saturday’s game at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
I think that’s unlikely. The players on both sides generally know members of the other team personally, and in some cases have played high school ball with each other. The losing side hears about it for a year from all quarters in this state.
And, as Georgia receiver Chris Conley noted to the Athens Banner-Herald on the subject of some of the classless comments that Techies have posted online reveling in Aaron Murray’s season-ending injury, there’s no “searching for motivation for this game.”
Feelings run high in this series every year. It’s a game that, as newly anointed starting quarterback Hutson Mason and other Bulldogs have said this week, always tends to get “chippy.”
Senior Dog offensive lineman Chris Burnette explained it to ESPN this week: “Growing up watching Georgia football, you understand that … you want to beat Tech first and foremost. … You never want to end your career with a loss to Tech. So that’s definitely something that’s not going to be hard to get up for. We understand what they bring on offense and what they bring on defense and all that type of stuff, so we’re going to be ready.”
“I think our guys understand how important this game is,” Richt said at his Tuesday press conference. “I don’t know if we’ve had a game [against Tech] where I’d say that we came out flat. I think we’re playing our best football when we play Georgia Tech.”
Other great college football rivalries may be falling victim to conference and schedule reshuffling, and there’ve even been discussions among disgruntled Tech fans about how their program might be better off ending the series with UGA because of the latter’s dominance. But you rarely hear anything like that from the Georgia side.
Beating Tech is just too much fun.
I do think it’s true that, as I wrote back in 2009, the rivalry looms much larger in the year-round consciousness of folks at Tech. They seem a bit more obsessed with the Dogs than the Dogs and their fans are with Tech. Yes, it’s considered a must win by the Bulldog Nation, but Georgia players and fans don’t really focus on the game all year long like they do on the Flats.
Back when I wrote that, I heard from Tech fans lecturing me that if the rivalry didn’t mean just as much to me, I wouldn’t be writing about it. Their tortured logic aside, my point was that Georgia players and fans hate losing to Tech, but aside from Hate Week, they don’t really think about it all that much.
I was talking with a UGA fan the other day who admitted, “Until this week I hadn’t even followed Tech closely enough to know what their record was. I knew they’d lost big to Clemson and a few others, but that was about it.”
All that changes, though, during Hate Week, when Georgia fans also have the luxury of looking back over the past five decades of mostly good times going up against Tech. (You can go here to see what I’ve written in the past about my top 10 favorite wins over the Jackets, and here to learn my all-time favorite victory in the series.)
So, from what I can see, Hate Week is still thriving despite the one-sided nature of the rivalry, but I’d be interested in hearing where you rank Tech among UGA’s rivals. Is it still the one must-win game every year? And would it ever be acceptable for the two schools not to meet annually in football? Feel free to share your thoughts (just don’t descend to the level of those folks at Stingtalk!).
I’ll be back here Friday with more on Saturday’s game and some Junkyard Mail. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving.
Go Dogs! Wreck Tech!
Got something you want to discuss concerning the Dawgs? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg