Saturday will be the annual renewal of our state's big rivalry, Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, or as author Bill Cromartie has described it, "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate." Even with Georgia's yearly big SEC games with Tennessee, Florida, and Auburn, Tech is still the team that all old-line Bulldogs like myself know we must beat. More about that later.
Saturday will also see the end of an era in Sanford Stadium. I call it the Era of the Davids. I'm speaking of the dynamic duo from Gwinnett County, Greene and Pollack.
In my lifetime of watching the Bulldogs, these two are easily in the top 10 of all time greats to wear the red and black. Not only have they been outstanding football players on the field, they have been exemplary off it. In Greene's five years and Pollack's four in Athens, there has never been a hint of trouble from either of them. If you looked up "coach's dream" in the dictionary you'd find their pictures.
Coach Mark Richt has trotted out only one starting quarterback in his four seasons of coaching the Bulldogs and both likely will be feeling very nostalgic come Saturday afternoon. How many college head coaches have enjoyed such a pleasure? David Greene has not just trotted out to play, but he has helped deliver an NCAA-record 40 wins as a starting quarterback.
Besides the victories and many school records that Greene holds, I think he deserves the greatest credit for his attitude. He has had to share playing time with his friend D.J. Shockley, a move that many fans and media experts have questioned Coach Richt on. If Greene has questioned it, he has never once grumbled a word about it in public or to the media. The king-sized version of Opie Taylor has always kept a smile on his face.
Credit should go to previous head coach Jim Donnan for recruiting Greene to Georgia, and perhaps most importantly, redshirting him in 2000.
David Pollack played his freshman year as an obscure backup defensive tackle. Although he was recruited as a possible fullback, the dire need for defensive linemen forced the coaches' hand and lo and behold Pollack quickly developed into the SEC Player of the Year his sophomore season in 2002.
Along with his numerous accolades such as being Georgia's all time leader in quarterback sacks, Pollack too is an All-American boy. He turned down Playboy magazine's offer to be a part of their All-American team because their values did not match his. He publicly proclaimed that he would not take part in premarital sex. How many college football players, especially famous ones, would say that?
I personally observed Pollack hand my seven-year-old nephew a bracelet as he traversed the Dog Walk prior to this year's Georgia Southern game. Nowhere did the bracelet say David Pollack, All-American. Inscribed on the bracelet was the universally famous question, "what would Jesus do?"
Both Davids have always put the team first. Greene is called a coach on the field and Pollack's reputation will be that of one whose motor never stopped. As fans we'll miss numbers 14 and 47, numbers that surely will one day be retired by the Georgia football program.
The game itself should be more competitive than the last two. Georgia, at 8-2, has struggled defensively of late. Their midseason loss to Tennessee cost them in their quest to return to the SEC Championship game and they were soundly beaten by a well-prepared Auburn team. Too many fans have dwelt more on those losses than the eight wins.
Tech will be coming in with a record of 6-4. If Tech pulls the upset, their fans won't have to chant "Auburn, Auburn" like they did "LSU, LSU" last year. They will climb out from under their termite-infested woodwork and remind us of both their superior intelligence and miraculous athletic prowess. Win or lose, they'll surely add, "wait till basketball season."
Win or lose, I'll still be a Georgia Bulldog come Sunday morning. I don't keep my red and black under a rock. Win or lose, we'll still be hearing about those astronomical Tech IQs. That you can bet on.