1. I went to Athens for the bye week because it was the best place for Brian and I to meet up to attend a neutral site game, compare cultural notes, and then wait for THE FULL BRAY. That quasi-mystical, cryptozoological phenomenon was on display in Sanford Stadium this weekend, so we took alcohol and cash as our diplomats and drove down 78 to watch the Tennessee-Georgia game.
2. Alcohol and cash are undefeated in diplomacy and divorce court.
3. Athens remains the best college town in the SEC for so many reasons. The town has a thousand bars, and not just the undergrad vomitoriums most college towns specialize in. (Hey, Gainesville!) The weather is warm but not suffocating ('sup, Columbia), everything's walkable, and the town manages for the most part to avoid the long stretches of nothingness sponsored by mortal fear and pawn shops afflicting other SEC college towns. I might be talking about Baton Rouge. I'm talking about Baton Rouge, and there are no apologies since mortal fear is an essential part of the Baton Rouge Experience.
4. Dave at the tailgate had to smoke cigarettes standing well away from the tent, which had kids and people who didn't want to suck the sweet fumes of a man hitting the carcinogenic afterburners of a depraved Saturday. He watched the Baylor/WVU game's third quarter for us.
"Dave, did they--"
"Oh, cool." [turns to continue conversation]
"--and Baylor just scored."
"Yeah. I'm not getting through this cigarette without West Virginia scoring again."
He was right. West Virginia answered with another TD before he could smoke it down to the filter.
5. The greatest human being tailgating in Athens: an Alabama fan in all Crimson Tide gear who still had the courtesy to fix a gigantic pot of jambalaya he was offering to anyone who asked. THAT is how you wear third party gear at a rivals' tailgate.
6. Georgia has Samuel L. Jackson doing their "Commit to the G" video. He doesn't even drop a single "motherfucker" in it.
This is a fantastic piece of celebrity sponsorship, but Georgia should stop with Samuel L and call it a win. Throughout the game Georgia would run a kind of slideshow of celebrities on the jumbotron, and while it is very impressive that you have Parvati Shallow's phone number, it's not exactly doing any favors to the phrase "UGA Legends." (To be fair: Florida would be down to the founding members of Sister Hazel after, like, six slides.)
7. Georgia also runs a Larry Munson montage in the pregame. It might have had me in tears, but they skipped to Lindsay Scott running through the Florida secondary in 1980, and I was crying for entirely different reasons. Death and loose pass coverage are things you can never be angry enough at, really.
8. The Alphabetical will have a bit more about the game, but let this be said here: Tennessee got every imaginable chance to win a football game in Athens, and then promptly shat each one away. At every possible turn, the Vols cut corners without the race officials noticing: the three turnovers they got off Georgia in the first half, the tipped balls bouncing the right way, UGA burying themselves deep in their own end with special teams mistakes, and Jarvis Jones disappearing for most of the game without drawing double-teams.
9. The Cordarrelle Patterson TD was one of the sickest things we will see this year, and makes our point for us. Patterson worked right on an obvious trick play, pulled the ball down, and in a normal world the play dies here in the backfield. It doesn't cut through the entire UGA defense, leave no fewer than four jockstraps on the field, and end up in the endzone. Tennessee got that, the lottery shot of all lottery shots, and still didn't win this game.
10. Derek Dooley must be a closet Hungarian. It is the only explanation at this point.
11. it's not the full four hour hate of a Florida or LSU game, but Georgia's not supposed to be that, ever. It's a chatty, laid-back crowd in between plays. On replays--now mandatory and repeated several times on crucial calls--the entire stadium turns into a mass focus group, with all but the most partisan agreeing that dangit, Aaron Murray: that was a fumble, and GO GIT THAT BALL BACK, DAWGS. Georgia fans are chill in the good way: chill because they prefer to be that way, and loud when loud is requested. That's different than Kentucky fans, who are cold from the icy touch of football death itself rubbing their shoulders for four quarters.
12. One scoreboard graphic is the shell game cartoon most stadiums use as interstitial entertainment. In UGA's case, a bulldog puts an order of fries beneath one of three small doghouses, and then shuffles them around quickly while fans scream out "THREEE! IT'S UNDER THREE, Y'ALL!!!"
At one point the cartoon came to a stop, and UGA pulled up one doghouse to reveal a tiny UGA. A guy behind us, in the thickest Georgia accent imaginable, cried out:
"NOOOOOO!!! YOU WANT THE FRIES, NOT THE DAWG!!!!"
13. If there's life advice to follow after watching Tennessee waste a boatload of good fortune in Athens, it's that: if you have the choice in life, get the fries, and not the Dawg, man.