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I must confess to being not much of a blogger. I’ve followed the goings-on here at Dawgsports nigh on a year now but prefer mostly to watch from the sidelines. But this week, I think I need to make an exception. I’ve heard a lot of depressive commentary in the wake of our latest Cocktail Party setback. What is to follow is certainly not meant to devalue the emotional outpouring that must be taking place throughout the Bulldog Nation this week. I sympathize with each and every one of y’all, I really do. But if there is a fan out there in a greater state of malaise than am I, I’d love to shake his/her hand and then offer them a
Cocktail drink of their own choosing. Here’s why.
I was born in Titusville, FL- the product of a Space Coast family. In fact, Granddaddy was on console when Neil Armstrong took his one small step for mankind. Looking back, I could have been destined to be a Seminole or even <shuddering> a Gator. But in what was probably the greatest single even that has shaped my life, a lovely southern belle from Athens, GA made her way to Cocoa Beach for spring break and met a long-haired hippie out cutting class in the hopes of grabbing a few waves. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, it turned out that the momma and poppa of that southern belle wanted their little girl (and their first grandchild) back within arm’s reach. So Mom and Dad Law Dawg with ‘lil one-year old Law Dawg in tow made the eight hour drive due north to the Classic City.
We moved around a little bit after- most notably, stints in Monroe and Winder- but were never more than a 30 minute drive from campus. Growing up in Florida, my dad was never much of a college football enthusiast. I surmise that the lack of Gator and Seminole success during his formative years has a lot to do with that. That left it to mom and her family to begin my Bulldog education- and begin it they did.
My own formative years were spent mired in the post-Dooley era. Watching those Goff and Donnan coached teams, I quickly became acquainted with and subsequently became a master of the fine art of poor-mouthing. It is hard to envision anyone who came of age during those trying times as aspiring to anything greater than a pessimist of which Larry Munson could be proud.
After high school, I applied to one college, and one college only. I got to the University of Georgia in 2001. My first game after matriculating was also the second of the Mark Richt era. We lost a heartbreaker to South Carolina, 14-9. But then again, I distinctly remember it not being really that heartbreaking. At the time, I considered it pretty much par for the course. I remember us beating Arkansas the next week and it just so happened that my biology lab got cancelled the following Friday. So a couple of buddies and I jumped in the car and headed to Knoxville to watch us
get hammered by play Tennessee. We all remember how that turned out. We finished up 8-4 that year. But despite some spotty clock management that would have made Les Miles proud late in the year, for some reason, this didn’t feel like a Goffian 8-4. Who knows- maybe it was the fact that I was 18 years old living the dream in the greatest city in earth. Maybe it was P 44 Haynes. Or heck, maybe it was just all those chili dogs with no legs from the Varsity every other night. But this felt different. We went 13-1 the next year and I saw each and every game live and in living color that year, from what is still the loudest I’ve ever heard it in Sanford Stadium against Clemson to ringing in New Years against FSU on Bourbon Street. We would go on to post back-to-back 10-2 seasons in 2003 and 2004. By the time I was allowed to walk through the Arch without fear of not graduating and/or having the ability to produce baby Law Dawgs, 50 football contests were played; the Dawgs went 41-9 in those contests. I also managed to make it to every campus in the SEC, save Starkville (I can’t recall playing the Bizzaro Bulldogs during my four years) to watch my Dawgs play.
After a few years off in the real world, my quarter-life crisis hit and within the span of two months, I had taken the LSAT, made trips to several of the law schools to which I had been accepted, and narrowed it down to two- one in the city where I had spent my entire life and the other in the only place that in all my college campus travels, I could see coming even a remote #2 to Athens- Oxford, MS. Ole Miss had a summer program where you could come in early and take two summer classes prior to your full enrollment. Not knowing if law school was going to be right for me, I jumped at the opportunity to test the waters. Three wonderful years later spent in class, the Square, and the Grove (not necessarily in that order), I had met the future Mrs. Law Dawg, earned a law degree with honors, and accepted a legal position in central Florida with the federal government.
Here’s where things get relevant to this week. My colleagues are Gators. My neighbors are Gators. My boss is a Gator. My bank teller is a Gator. My accountant is a Gator. Heck, even the damn kids trick-or-treating on my block are Gators. “Eh, that’s bad but not sympathy worthy,” many of you are retorting. “Let’s queue up the violin and bring out the whine and cheese,” say others. Just wait for it.
Mrs. Law Dawg is a wonderful girl. She is attractive, intelligent, witty, charming, and a host of other superlatives that I will not bore you with. For fifty-one weeks out of the year, I am the luckiest guy in the world. That said, Mrs. Law Dawg it turns out, is not indeed a Dawg at all. Before coming to Ole Miss to pursue her Juris Doctor, she matriculated in a steamy, southern town of about 125,000 in the middle of Alachua County.
That’s right. Mrs. Law Dawg is a Gator. The course of true love never did run smooth. Maybe Shakespeare had to drive home from Jacksonville too.
So raise a glass, Bulldog Nation. One ain’t enough, jack, ya better make it three.