One of my Alma Maters has a very "to the point" motto: For God, For Country and for Yale. While I can totally get behind this, every fall I'm reminded of the south's unofficial motto of "God, Country, Family and Football, but not necessarily in that order." It's football season y'all and once again, I'm all in. . . and completely alone out here on the west coast when it comes to understanding the need to schedule my life around Georgia games.
While I love living in California, have an amazing job, amazing friends, and no plans to leave this enchanted place in which I live; every fall I would give anything to be able to see some live southern college football. How did I get this way you ask? Well, when you consider my past, it's really no wonder. I'm mean really, when you're in marching band from 9th grade to your senior year of college, how can you not become a fan of football?
My parents were never big college football fans. I don't come from a long line of worshipers at the alters of Danny Ford or Vince Dooley as many of my friends do. But from about the age of 5 to age 22, my life centered around high school and college football every fall. I grew up in Clemson, SC from the mid 70's until I went to college in 1991. Many of the fond memories of my childhood center around Clemson football. They won a national championship when I was 7. I remember (I'm not sure where) sitting in William "Refrigerator" Perry's lap at age 7, diligently trying to explain the difference between treble clef and bass clef to him. (He was in my dad's music appreciation class at the time.) I remember getting tempura paint from Mr. Knickerbocker's or Judge Keller's and roaming the tailgates at home games, painting tiger paws on peoples faces to earn enough money to by a ticket to go the the game. In high school/college my dad helped me get a job as a tutor in the athletic department where I tutored Clemson football and basketball players in music appreciation. I remember attending the 1990 Georgia vs. Clemson game my senior year of high school, standing at the top of the upper deck when Clemson beat Georgia and feeling the entire stadium rock, not knowing at the time that I would end up attending the University of Georgia the next fall and swiftly changing allegiances.
In 1991 I went to the University of Georgia for undergrad, and promptly joined the Redcoat Marching Band. This university quickly became "home", the people very quickly became "family", and the primal belief (fact) that all things Georgia are Godly and good, and all things Florida are evil incarnate quickly became "religion". These aspects of southern college football are a real and palatable thing. I can't tell you how many times I've been in a random airport, or even another country wearing a Georgia shirt and someone came up to me, shook my hand, and greeted me with a hearty "Go Dawgs!" I've even had fans of rival teams come up to me in airports, or the streets of San Francisco, shake my hand and respond with "Roll Tide", "Hoddy Toddy", and in one delusional fan's case - "Anchor Down". These greetings are the football fans way of saying "Howdy, fellow football fan, I acknowledge your passion, but hope we will beat your ass to the ground in our next meeting on the battlefield."
So with a couple of weeks behind us, the two teams I have rooted for for most of my life have both had a glorious win, and a heartbreaking loss. And so it goes. . . Go Tigers! (except when you play Georgia) and most of all Go Dawgs!!
I am a musician, teacher, non-profit program director, transplanted southerner, cancer survivor and college football fan. And will probably write about all of it.