Georgia/Georgia Tech had a lot of interesting moments, but like spectators on the highway, the attention tends to focus on the obvious disasters. Like Reggie Ball playing the University of Georgia at quarterback, a role of such abject misery and incompetence as to paralyze any conventional comparisons we'd care to make. For the past four years, him under center against UGA has been like looking at the fresh wreckage of a car crash for four hours straight and waiting for the gas tank to go off in a ball of flame and sizzled flesh.
Reggie Ball: set to go off at any instant.
For four years running, it went off with unreal frequency and regularity. Which means we've got to dig into the Douglas Adams archives to find just the right blend of unreal bad luck, shoddy execution, and futile self-mutilating rage to capture the career of Reggie Ball properly. (Warning: two minutes of internet research required. Gird that attention span, ADDers!)
First, the numbers: For his career against UGA, Ball went 45-104 with one touchdown and five interceptions. He was sacked at least six times, and tackled for losses on hopeless scrambles on innumerable occasions. He also lost four fumbles, including Tony Taylor's squirrel/nut run giving UGA their first score in 2006 and signalling the beginning of the final catastrophe.
Worse than the number was the timing of Ball's mistakes:
--2003: knocked out with concussion caused by running into own teammate.
--2004: throws ball away on 4th down on potential game-winning drive.
--2005: throws game-ending interception five yards shy of tying td.
--2006: loses crucial fumble for score AND throws game ending pick into triple coverage on final drive with over a minute left on clock.
Ball was a master--in fact, he got worse with each game he played against Georgia. The more the pressure mounted, the more success Ball enjoyed as a starter, the worse he played against the Bulldogs. He came back stronger each time, and yet could not stop improving on his masterwork of disaster. In fact, his senior year capped his artistry: not only did he lose a game-killing fumble, he also tossed his signature game-losing pick, a Matisse of malicious fortune and bad execution made worse with a 6 for 22 performance killing any potential of consistent passing offense.
The simile: Reggie Ball : Georgia as Agrajag : Arthur Dent. The story:
Agrajag is a piteous creature that is continually reincarnated and subsequently killed unknowingly by Arthur Dent each time. Agrajag first appears in the series as a falling bowl of petunias (although, if the books are read in sequence, the reader doesn't know it at the time). In another incarnation, he was a prehistoric rabbit who was killed by Arthur for breakfast and whose skin was fashioned into a pouch, which is then used to swat a fly who happened to be Agrajag. In yet another, he dies of a heart attack after seeing Arthur and Ford materialize, seated on a Chesterfield sofa, in the midst of a cricket match at Lord's Cricket Ground.
If there's any harmony in this universe, Reggie Ball will end up in his next life as a pot of petunias, which will be dropped from a windowsill by an offspring of Paul Oliver.
Reggie, seen here in his next life plotting his soon-to-be-thwarted revenge.