Saturday is an important day in my family. It’s been a busy week with a birthday celebration, Christmas shopping, and Thanksgiving, but everything comes to a halt the last Saturday in November. Why? Because of Clean Old-Fashioned Hate.
My Georgia Bulldogs — the number one team in the nation, I should point out — are looking to finish the regular season undefeated, and the only team standing in the way is the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Georgia Tech is our in-state rival, but some may argue that other rivalries are more important. Our rivalry with Auburn has gone on longer, and our yearly contest with Florida has more pageantry. But there’s nothing like the hate that goes along with our annual game against the Nerds.
The Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry began on the baseball diamond, and the hate began brewing before they ever faced each other on the football field. The two schools, separated by only 70 miles, faced each other on the football field for the first time in 1893.
For that first game, Georgia Tech reportedly talked some coeds from Athens’ Lucy Cobb Preparatory School to don yellow and gold and cheer for the team that was then called the Blacksmiths. Tech beat Georgia 28-6 in Athens, and Georgia fans chased the Blacksmiths back to the train station with rocks and knives.
Some of the details of that first game may be apocryphal, but the fact that the story is being told this way so many years later demonstrates the hatred that the two schools have for each other.
The first game after World War I disrupted the Georgia Bulldogs football program led to an incident that angered Georgia Tech so much that they pouted and refused to play Georgia for six years.
Clarke Schwabe writes at the University of Georgia Alumni Association website:
During World War I, UGA, like many schools, lost a majority of their able-bodied male students to military service, forcing them to suspend their football program. Georgia Tech, however, was a military training ground, so, with no lack of athletes, they carried on playing football during the war. When Georgia revived football in 1919, the students held a parade to celebrate, and a pair of floats created a scandal: one was shaped like a tank, with a banner that read, “UGA in Argonne;” the other was a donkey dressed in yellow with a banner that read, “Tech in Atlanta.” Georgia Tech was furious and severed athletic ties with UGA, resulting in, among other things, no regular season play between the teams until 1925.
For the first 70 years of the rivalry, the score was pretty even: 27-26-5 in favor of Tech. But all that changed in 1964 when legendary coach Vince Dooley began his run at Georgia. Since then, coaches Dooley, Ray Goff, Jim Donnan, Mark Richt, and Kirby Smart have dominated Tech, and the all-time series record stands at 68-41-5, advantage Georgia.
One of the craziest things about this rivalry is that Georgia seems to live rent-free in the heads of Tech fans. All year long, the Nerds love the hashtag #THWG (to hell with Georgia), and Yellow Jackets fans will post low-blow anti-Bulldog propaganda on social media throughout the year. Georgia fans aren’t as obsessed with the Nerds all year long, but this week they become Enemy Number One.
This year’s stakes are especially high. It’s only the third time that one of the teams enters the game ranked at the top of the polls. The Bulldogs want to finish the regular season undefeated and on a roll heading into next week’s SEC Championship against Alabama. Tech’s coach Geoff Collins would like to avoid his third consecutive 3-9 season.
Georgia is a 35-point favorite, but trust me, we Bulldog fans don’t take anything for granted. It should be a fun game. Go Dawgs!
This year’s Georgia-Georgia Tech game airs on November 27 at noon EST on ABC.