There are certain priorities in life which much be addressed despite the day to day distractions that cloud the picture of what is really important. With national political conventions, state primaries and runoffs, and general election campaign activities, I have been remiss in addressing the seasonal priority that has until today been slighted in this space. The Georgia Bulldogs are already 2-0 in this still young football season.
It seemed like two weeks ago that the weather became cooler just after the mass of people converged at the hedges in Sanford Stadium, though the only thing cool during that game was the performance of the team shaking off cobwebs. The weather was hot; UGA's performance against Buffalo left a bit to be desired. The margin of victory was still comfortable.
Last week, UGA traveled to Missouri to be the welcome wagon from the SEC. Despite a close first half, UGA reminded the fan base what we like about college football during the second half. As a 43-year-old alum of the school, I was strangely comfortable watching our version of "old man football" take care of business. I also continue to laugh at the thought of six remaining legacy SEC teams who may want to have a word with Missouri's defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to make sure he understands what "old man football" is all about.
Richardson seemed to already have the message and a better understanding of what the term "bulletin board material" means. He reportedly sought out UGA coach Mark Richt after the game to say he meant no disrespect, and had a lot of respect for the team.
Some Missouri fans apparently appreciated the Georgia welcoming committee enough to purchase an ad in UGA's Red and Black newspaper thanking Georgia for coming to town and beating their beloved Tigers. The ad as reported through the AJC reads:
"Our thanks to all of you Georgia Bulldog fans! What a terrific bunch of visitors you were - friendly, gracious and fun. We don't like to lose around here, but both of our teams played an undeniably exciting and awesome game! You gave us an unforgettable first game in the SEC, and we thank you for that. We hope you enjoyed your visit to mid-Missouri, and look forward to seeing you next time.
Best Wishes from the fans & residents of Tiger Town, USA."
Missouri, not exactly a traditionally Southern state, may be confused as to the expectation of Southern manners. It is tricky, but in football season it is usually the other way around. We can feign some pleasantries leading up to a game, only to be dog-cussing you and your team by the time the game is done. UGA, after all, has a century-plus-long rivalry known as "Clean Old Fashioned Hate," and that isn't even a conference game anymore.
I can only conclude that Missouri's honeymoon with the SEC will eventually evolve into the reality of the marriage they have just entered. It's not that they'll likely want a divorce. They much more likely will lie awake at night wishing the schools that become their conference rivals will die in their sleep.
As for UGA, there are three weeks ahead of home football games. Saturday brings what should be a tune-up scrimmage against Florida Atlantic. The following weeks bring conference rivals from Vanderbilt and Tennessee. Interestingly, Vandy is no longer the laugher conference game dubbed for homecoming.
That "honor" has fallen to Ole Miss this year. While their football program is not in its best years, they remain a great group of people who know how to tailgate. That's the closest to a thank you add I can muster for a conference rival.
Weekdays for the next two months will remain the property of the various campaigns that are vying for all of our time. But for now, the weekends belong to football. After all, to quote a recent GOP convention speaker, "a man's got to have his priorities."
Charlie Harper, author and editor of the Peach Pundit blog, writes on Georgia politics and government; www.peachpundit.com.