Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken, then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.
Progress is a funny word. As a society we want to be progressive in our thoughts and actions, but often the term “progressive” has negative connotations (at least for me, it does).
One area where progress is bad is the ever changing world of college football. I understand the importance of TV and the money it brings, and how the lust for more money has made conference expansion a joke. Times change and sometimes it is good, but now you see the causalities of expansion and progress.
One casualty was the Big East and all of the rich history of basketball and their rivalries. We’ve seen long standing rivalries like Oklahoma-Nebraska, Texas-Texas A&M cast aside like an old pair of shoes. Many in the SEC have been indifferent or not raised much of a fuss, because while we are robbed of interesting match ups, it boils down to this progress of man hasn’t really affected us down here in the southeast.
But now, the looming playoff structure that no one really knows how it will operate has two of the SEC’s most storied rivalries in jeopardy, unless the conference moves to a nine game slate.
College football is different than any other sport. The passion fans have is unique to the sport. Also unique to the sport are the traditions, the pageantry of a game day and the rivalries that permeate through the sport across the different regions. If you cut out the traditions and fun of college athletics, you then have the NFL. There is a reason why I obsess over college football and not the pro game. Many of the same reasons many of you do the same.
Sure, no matter what, the big ones will exists. The Red River Shootout, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, Michigan-Ohio State, The Iron Bowl will all remain intact.
But there are other rivalries that shouldn’t be cast aside. Coach Richt gets it.
The one thing I will say I would vote on is to continue to have a rivalry game with Auburn,” Richt said. “Does that involve an eight-game, a nine-game? I don’t know. If (the Auburn game) goes away, then does an eight-game change in my mind compared to nine? I think one of the keys to this whole thing is whether the rivalry games stand. That can change how people think about the big picture.
The Third Saturday in October is one. And the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is another.
Now, an outsider may not put much stock in Georgia and Auburn’s annual tilt. It doesn’t have the prestige (to outsiders) as some of the other big ones in the sport. But it doesn’t mean it is any less important.
One, the one of many Auburn’s mascots was named in the first ever game against UGA. The series is tied 54-54-8. The total point scored is nearly even (I know you all know that, I don’t have the time or will to look it up).
In modern times, no school has had a dominant run over the other one. Georgia is enjoying a nice run now, winning 6/7. Coach Richt has owned Auburn, winning 8/12 against our neighbors. Until Cam Newton and Nick Fairley acted a damn fool, it was a very civil, friendly rivalry. In modern times, Auburn’s 4 game winning streak to close the 1980s is only matched by Georgia’s 4 game streak from 2006-2009.
Auburn is Georgia’s BEST rival. Some may say Tech is our biggest rival. Can’t really argue that. I say that Florida is our most hated rival. Can’t argue that point either. But in the truest sense of a word, a rival is someone who is your equal. When I was a kid, I saw a painting of two civil war soldiers. One in Union blue and the other in Confederate gray. They were standing in the middle of the battlefield, shaking hands before battle commenced. I’ve always viewed Auburn as our friendly, worthy adversary.
This game is late in the year and usually has all sort of implications on the line, and is usually Georgia’s last SEC game.
Plus, all the shared family between the schools. Pat Dye played for UGA and coached at Auburn. Vince Dooley played for Auburn and coached at Georgia. Shug Jordan was an assistant at UGA before being HC at Auburn. And so on, and so on.
I am younger than most folks who probably read this blog. So I guess I don’t have as much context. But in my formative years in high school and college when I really started paying attention to such matters, the Georgia-Auburn game is full of great story lines.
1996-the first OT game in SEC history
2001-Auburn escapes on a goal line stand in which Richt made a costly tactical error he still references 10 years later
2002-Georgia comes back and wins in dramatic fashion to clinch a trip to Atlanta for their first SEC Championship in 20 years, and provided in my opinion the best Munson call
2004-Auburn whips Georgia on the back of Cadillac Williams to have a perfect season
2005-A great night game in Sanford Stadium where Auburn wins on a last second 4th and forever TD
2006-Matthew Stafford’s coming out party, leading an upset win over the big favorites
2010-Cam Newton shows his ass
2011 and 2012-Revenge
The game appears safe for now, and the SEC will inevitably move to a 9 game conference schedule. Right or wrong, you can decide that for yourself. But it is completely short sighted, stupid and ignorant for SEC coaches and administrators to toss aside the long–standing traditions and storied rivalries that make the conference great just in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Because the reason the SEC is so great is not the crystal footballs. It is great because of the tradition of excellence this conference has seen. Championships will come and go. Dominance is an ebb and flow. But when the run of trophies comes to an end, the Conference will still be the best in the land.
Because of tradition.