I sat in disbelief in Sanford Stadium Saturday night. It was not because South Carolina led Georgia the entire game or even because they won the game. I once again was stunned that Coach Mark Richt displayed an apparent philosophy against using timeouts on defense to save the clock when it is about to strike zero and the Bulldogs are behind. I don't know why I was shocked. I've seen him do that before and it is evident that he would rather have two timeouts in his pocket with 1:25 left than have two minutes left with no timeouts. Not me.
There are many ways to stop the clock on offense, including spiking the ball. Not so on defense. Before their third down play on their last possession, South Carolina stood around and let the play clock run down to one second before they called a timeout, and Georgia let them. Unbelievable! I guess that's why, among other things, they call Steve Spurrier the evil genius and Mark Richt a nice guy.
Georgia plays Western Carolina from the little mountain village of Cullowhee, N.C., this week. Georgia Tech slaughtered Samford from Birmingham 69-14 last week. Both of these schools are members of the NCAA's Championship Football Division, formerly known as 1-AA. I hate games against 1-AA schools. Do you know who else hates them? The Michigan Wolverines.
I'm sure that when Michigan scheduled Appalachian State they thought they were getting a nice cozy home game and an easy win at the cost of a few measly bucks to a program like theirs. Lo and behold, along the way Mountaineer Coach Jerry Moore and his staff built a powerhouse that won the 1-AA National Championship in 2005 and 2006. Appalachian State deserved better than for everyone to slam Michigan for losing to them. Those boys from Boone can play. After Michigan got waxed by Oregon last Saturday, I guess we see now that just maybe App State could be better than Michigan.
This week South Carolina plays another band of Bulldogs in the form of S.C State, another 1-AA school. I know many Gamecock fans that have either sold or given away their tickets to S.C. State fans. They are saying they don't want to fight the traffic and crowd to watch a game against an inferior opponent on a likely hot day. Gee, these loyalists won't be there to cheer for their guys coming off a big SEC road win against Georgia.
I will bother to go to the Georgia-Western Carolina game on Saturday because that is what I do. I don't like these games, even against Georgia Southern, because my team has nothing to gain and everything to lose. In fact, if Georgia does not score 50 on the Catamounts, I might even leave feeling disappointed. Western has already lost to Alabama 52-6 and Eastern Kentucky 45-21.
Next year Georgia opens the season with Georgia Southern. These teams have played three times before and for me the novelty has worn off. Now with a 12-game schedule, I can expect more of these games in the future. The big schools need at least seven home games to balance their athletic budgets and pay for sports like equestrian and volleyball that operate in the red. Thanks Title IX. Except out of sheer generosity or blatant foolishness, SEC and ACC schools don't return games to 1-AA schools on their campuses.
I don't want to see this type of scheduling in high school football either. There is talk that Thomson might resume a series with Warren County next year. I realize that Warrenton is right next door and this was a big rivalry years ago, but things have changed. As I understand it, Warren County High School has well less than 300 students. Warren County could even get good enough to beat Thomson on one given night, and how would we like that? Don't laugh; Appalachian State beat Michigan on Sept. 1. The potential similarities are eerie.
And another thing. I have heard some local folks say that the great record held by a neighboring coach didn't mean anything because most of it came in Class A. If that is the case, why settle for a game between Thomson and Warren County? Beating them wouldn't mean anything and if the unthinkable happened we'd really be upset, and mostly at our own team.