ATHENS – The Georgia Bulldogs were scheduled to play Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 6th of this year until Missouri and Texas A&M accepted the SEC’s invitation to join the expanding conference last fall. That meant league schedules, booked years in advance, had to be reshuffled. The SEC replaced Alabama with Missouri on Georgia’s slate.
Nobody was happier about that change than Georgia alum and longtime fan Lisa Lee. Never mind win-loss implications.
Lee is the mother of Dallas Lee, who is the starting left offensive guard for Georgia. She’s also mom to Dillon Lee, who is a freshman linebacker at Alabama. She was sweating out that Oct. 6 date since the spring of 2011 when it first became apparent that her youngest son was not going to follow his big brother’s footsteps.
“We were relieved,” Lisa Lee said of the schedule change. “Lauren Murray (mother of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray) had already made me a shirt that had ‘Heart Divided’ on it, with Alabama on one side and Georgia on the other and a big split down the middle.”
Her sons hope she still gets to wear it.
Georgia and Alabama could still meet. If they do, it will be on Dec. 1 in the Georgia Dome — in the SEC Championship game.
The Bulldogs, ranked No. 6 in both The Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches’ polls, can return there if they repeat as SEC Eastern Division champions. Alabama, ranked No. 2 in both polls, is favored to get there from the West. The Lee boys both plan to be there.
“It’s still our goal to play,” said Dallas, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound junior. “It’s just going to be a little later in the season.”
A request to interview Dillon was denied by Alabama, citing coach Nick Saban’s policy for true freshmen.
Lisa Lee is not particularly enamored about sitting through a championship game with her sons on opposing sidelines either. Though her Georgia roots have been growing longer than she has been alive, she can’t say for certain she’d be cheering for the Bulldogs or what she might feel.
“I’d root for everyone to stay healthy and for it to be decided on something other than Dillon’s defensive assignments or Dallas’ offensive assignments,” she said. “I would probably be in the bathroom freaking out anyway.”
If it were up to Lisa and her husband, Robert, they wouldn’t be facing such a dilemma. She and her parents have been sitting in the same club level seats in the East end zone at Sanford Stadium for 35 years. Her family was actually voted “Best Dawg fans” one year and featured on The Mark Richt Show. Robert was also a lifelong Bulldog fan, too, and played for Erk Russell at Georgia Southern.
So when Dallas began to draw interest from colleges, his was a relatively stress-free recruitment. Despite offers from Florida State, Tennessee, Georgia Tech and others, he committed to the Bulldogs in April of his junior year.
Naturally, they thought Dillon’s recruitment would be much the same when he came through Buford High three years behind Dallas. Dillon had been raised the same way as Dallas and, since his big brother first became a recruit, he’d literally been to Athens 100 times.
“He was staying with me pretty much every summer and every Saturday,” Dallas said. “He always had a blast hanging out with us. He’s friends with everybody here. The more he came, the more I was thinking he was going to come here.”
Turns out, Dillon likes to go his own way. “A typical last born,” his mom says. Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart came after him hard and he was quickly swayed. Dillon committed to Alabama in May of 2011.
“You know, it’s kind of like when you’re 16 and you want a Mustang, but your parents could only afford a used truck,” Lisa explains. “Then you start driving that and you realize, ‘OK, I actually love a truck.’ . . . Dillon’s always surprising us.”
Now comes the hard part. Instead of their sons playing major college football together 40 miles away, they’ll be playing 275 miles apart. That has created some logistical challenges.
So Lisa and Robert Lee will be driving all over the place this fall in their Infiniti FX. You’ll recognize it from the No. 64 Georgia helmet sticker in the lower left corner of back window and a No. 25 Alabama “A” in the right.
“We’re doing it more based on big-game environments,” Lisa said of what games they’ll attend. “The first game was either Buffalo in Athens or Alabama versus Michigan in Texas Stadium. So we’ll be in Texas. The next week, Georgia goes to Missouri for the first time in SEC history, so we’re going there. And it just kind of continues on from there.”
And if all goes to plan, it will end in downtown Atlanta.