By Tim Sullivan
Confession: I had never been to a University of Georgia football game, until now. I guess the allure of the Bulldogs has always escaped me. Maybe it’s just one of those things that can truly separate a transplant, no matter how long their tenure, from a Georgia native. To me at least, a Georgia flag hanging off a car on game day around here has all the chutzpah of someone running out in the street and shouting, “I like milk!” If you really want to make a bold statement, I have some Boston College gear you can borrow.
And while I’m being honest, can we talk about the hair swoop? It’s one thing if you are a guy in college and decide to grow your bangs a little too long necessitating a swoop of your hand across your forehead at 30 second intervals. But if you are an adult who has retained the signature UGA hairstyle a decade after graduation, I can bet you are wearing penny loafers with no socks right now, too. The student body actually seems more diverse in person, but for years it seemed to me that attending UGA was to enroll in the homogenous zone.
So perhaps it’s ironic that the impetus for us going to our first UGA game was Kristen’s cousin, Georgie, from New Jersey. He has no hair swoop or loafers to speak of. Georgie is just a sporting event-travel-enthusiast who attended Scranton University himself. On previous visits he has seen a Falcons game, the NCAA Final Four and the Masters. This time he wanted to see the Bulldogs play, so we bought tickets for the Vanderbilt game and scoured our wardrobes for something red.
Kristen’s sister, Betsy, saw a notice on the Virginia-Highland Nextdoor page saying there was a group chartering a bus out to the game. This sounded fun and since none of us really knew what we were doing, we hopped aboard. We made fast friends with the group, who were all parents of freshman at UGA. Their kids had graduated from Grady High School together and many were just about as new to Bulldog fandom as we were.
The game itself was uninspiring. The Dawgs racked up yards but not points and Vandy employed a field position strategy of pooch punts and yawns. But the stadium and campus were incredible. Elliott and Margo were over the moon. The Chik-Fil-A kiosk was located right next to the Dippin’ Dots, which was right next to the merchandise tent so how could they go wrong? People were friendly and it was fairly obvious why so many generations of Georgians love this place.
Alas, the Dawgs fell short by a point. The stadium exit wasn’t quite as funereal as what I’d imagine the Tennessee game must have been like. It was more like a wake for your 96-year- old uncle. Only he didn’t die of old age, he died in a waterskiing accident. So everyone is just mildly depressed and wondering what exactly just happened.
Thankfully, by time we got back the tailgate party was again in full swing. Elliott, Margo and I played football on the quad while a fraternity party rocked all around us. Chatting with our new best friends on the bus ride back to Atlanta gave us something of a glimpse at our not-too-distant future. Great kids, great families, great school. And I’m not sure if it helps any on the application, but Elliott’s already got the hair swoop down.