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Post The World’s Largest Little League Home Run Celebration

Tuesday October 30, 2007

The "right or wrong" question about Georgia’s unsportsmanlike celebration has played itself out. It happened, it worked, and any aftermath will be solely psychological now that no additional discipline is forthcoming.

The notion that Georgia will somehow be seen as a classless program or that Richt’s reputation will be damaged is just silly. As Chuck noted here the other day, "If class were a change jar, then Richt just spent a quarter out of his Duck Tales size swimming vault." If anything, it’s making people finally talk about Mark Richt the football coach. Pundits crank out list after list of the top coaches in the SEC and across the nation, and Richt is more often than not passed over for flashier, though not always more successful, options.

It is noteworthy though to see how a trio of former quarterbacks saw the incident. CBS’s Gary Danielson praised the celebration immediately. Eric Zeier also gushed from the broadcast booth. Kirk Herbstreit likewise had a positive reaction on Atlanta radio. Those three are all veterans of big-time football who recognized exactly what Richt’s motivation was. Meanwhile, the loudest outcries have come from those with – how shall we put it – a little less personal experience with the motivational ups and downs of a college football team.

2-15 was a ridiculous stat for a program like Georgia. Even given Florida’s success over the past 17 years, there was no logical explanation for such a one-sided series. Richt and the team did something equally ridiculous and illogical to address it. I won’t go so far as to say that the past 17 years have been erased, but I suspect that our approach to Jacksonville will be much different in the future than the pucker-fest it has been recently.

What I like most about the ongoing controversy is how Georgia has set the discussion. Florida is responding to Georgia for once. When we saw Meyer and a few Gator players jumping around before the next kickoff trying to show how hyped they were, it was clear that Richt’s tactic had worked. The Gators are a good team and responded immediately on the scoreboard, but Georgia had set the bar for intensity for the rest of the game.

In fact, Georgia’s attitude improvement didn’t start with the celebration. They came out of the locker room with it. The defense sacked Tebow on the opening play. Even after getting burned on 3rd-and-long they kept coming, and Rod Battle caused a rare Florida turnover. Then the offense ran it right at Florida’s highly-ranked rushing defense for nine consecutive plays and didn’t stop until they reached the end zone. The celebration was the most memorable expression of Georgia’s approach to the game, but the Dawgs carried that attitude before and well after the celebration.

Scut Farkus
Go Gators!

This was Ralphie beating up Scut Farkus. Yes, we know that fighting is wrong. Sometimes you have to do something extreme and unexpected to bring about change. Ralphie stood up to the bully, turned the tables on him, didn’t get killed by his father for it, and the neighborhood dynamics were never the same.

It’s a certainty that the celebration will be agenda item #1 in Jacksonville next year, and that will be a welcome change from hearing about 3-15. The Dawgs have not won consecutive games in this series in nearly 20 years, and that will likely be the storyline heading into that game. Georgia stood up to Florida in this year’s win, and next year’s job will be to begin turning the tide of the series. It won’t be easy immediately after playing at LSU, but that’s life in the SEC.

UPDATE: Tony Barnhart gets the reaction of several coaches and former coaches across the country. It’s especially interesting to hear the nearly unanimous support from the former coaches who don’t have to play politics with their own fans. Add in the opinions of the former quarterbacks named above, and it doesn’t seem to be much of an issue in the football community.

One Response to 'The World’s Largest Little League Home Run Celebration'

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  • This was my favorite quote from Mark Mangino:

    “At Oklahoma our tradition was to get dressed in the locker room, win the game, shower and go home.”

    Yeah, The Sooners are the moral compass of NCAA football. Gimme a break. The depth of his self-righteousness is absolutely laughable!