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YARBROUGH: Lot on the line as student-athletes at Tech and UGA face off today

Dick Yarbrough

Dick Yarbrough

Dear Boss:

I wanted you to know that I may be hard to reach for the next few weeks or months or maybe even years. I can't be specific with the details at the moment, but by 5 p.m. today I should have a better idea about my future plans.

As you are aware, student-athletes from the University of Georgia -- the oldest state-chartered university in the nation, located in Athens, the Classic City of the South -- will gather in Atlanta today to challenge a group of aspiring nuclear engineers and budding architects at the Georgia Institute of Technology to a game of football. Frankly, this could be a problem for me.

Should it occur that the lads from Tech prevail over the young scholars from UGA, there is a good chance that I will hear from 4,395,986,229 people gleefully reminding me about the outcome. That is the exact number of people I predict will claim to have had undying loyalty to the Georgia Tech football program all along. When Georgia wins, you can't find them with a flashlight. Then they are busy trying to convince us that they are really more interested in basketball than football.

You know from having fielded more than a few calls and emails from readers wondering (a) how did I ever get in the Gwinnett Daily Post and (b) how can they get me out that I can be quite controversial if there is a chance I discern humor-impairment in a person, place or thing. In fact, I take pride in having found that a large number of state flaggers, loud-talking Yankees, Southern Baptists, NATO general rapporteurs, Midtown Atlanta gays and state senate majority leaders named Chip all have one thing in common: They are all missing the humor gene. I might win the Nobel Prize in Scientific Humor for that one.

Georgia Tech is a different matter. My shots at them have nothing to do with humor. We are talking deep and personal psychological scars here.

I grew up in the days when Georgia was lucky to win four games a year and was a cinch to lose to Georgia Tech and its legendary coach, Bobby Dodd. For eight straight years from 1949 to 1957, Tech beat Georgia every way possible -- from routs to heart-breakers. One year, a Georgia player broke loose on Grant Field and was headed for a touchdown when he ran out of his shoe and fell down. I'm not making that up. Another time, my friend -- and, yes, I do have a few friends at Tech -- quarterback Wade Mitchell threw a pass in the rain and mud to Joe DeLaney that looked like a Frisbee instead of a spiral. Of course, DeLaney caught it and Tech beat the Bulldogs 7-3. It was horrible.

When Vince Dooley came to Athens, suddenly things changed and Georgia has more or less had the upper hand ever since. The Bulldogs have managed to win 16 of the last 20 times the two teams have met. That does not, however, ease my insecurities.

I listen to the younger generation blather about SEC championships and whine when the Dawgs lose three games a year and don't go to a BCS bowl, whatever that is. We old-timers want only one thing -- to Wreck Tech. I only hope these kids won't have to live through a period in which Georgia loses to Tech for eight long years like I did. Even today, I can't wear tweed coats and bumblebees make me queasy.

Anyway, if it should happen that the nuclear engineers and architects prevail later today, I'm outta here. Not only will the Tech fans be gloating about the win, but they will probably bring up some of my past wry comments, such as: If they are so smart at North Avenue and we are just a party school, how come UGA has 18 Rhodes Scholars to Tech's three?

Or, this one: There is a waiting list to qualify for season tickets to Sanford Stadium, but when you go to the grocery store in Atlanta and return to your car you likely will find a envelope under the windshield wiper with four tickets to Georgia Tech's next home game along with a threat that if you don't take them, you will find eight tickets the next time you park.

I pick on the humor-impaired because they are, well, humor-impaired. I pick on Tech because I am still trying to deal with my inner id from having lived through a dark period in my life known as The Drought. I don't quite understand it all, but if we lose today, I will be hiding in a cave somewhere in Borneo with plenty of time to figure it out.

Wistfully,

Dick Yarbrough

Email columnist Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/dickyarbrough.