I was born a Georgia Bulldogs fan. Literally. My parents lived in Athens at the time and my dad was a student at the University of Georgia.
I grew up rooting for the Dawgs. My first college football game was watching Herschel Walker as a freshman. That season, Georgia miraculously beat Florida on a Buck-Belue-to-Lindsay-Scott pass in the final seconds of the rivalry game vs Florida. And at the end of the season, Georgia beat Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl to win the College Football National Championship.
I have been a life-long Georgia Bulldogs fan. GO DAWGS!
When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to visit Notre Dame on a football recruiting trip. See, I played QB on a very good Dacula High School team. My junior year, our regular season record was 10-0, we made the playoffs for the first time in school history, and we finished the season 11-1.
So in the spring of 1988, my parents and I traveled to South Bend, Indiana (at my parents’ expense – – thanks mom and dad!) for a weekend with 300 recruits and their families. At a dinner for the recruits and their families, we met some of the coaches and heard from head coach Lou Holtz, one of the greatest motivational speakers of our generation.
The next day, we went into the locker room before the spring game and then stood on the sideline during the game. As a 17-year-old kid, this was a big deal. You think about all of the tradition and history of Notre Dame: the great players, coaches and teams; the Heisman trophy winners and the championships. You place your hand on the “Play like a champion today” sign in the stairwell. You see the mural on the building overlooking the stadium, the mural with Jesus’ arms and hands extended up into the air toward the crowd, the mural affectionately called “Touchdown Jesus.” No doubt, on that weekend, I became a fan of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. GO IRISH!
Reality says that I was not actually good enough to play at Notre Dame. Of those 300 recruits on that trip with me, less than 30 earned scholarships to play for the Fighting Irish. That means over 90% of us never received an offer from Notre Dame. But the following season as Notre Dame won the College Football National Championship, none of that mattered to me. I was still a fan.
So here we are in 2017, with my two favorite teams playing for only the second time ever. It’s going to be a fun game to watch. I don’t feel like I can lose, no matter who wins.
GO DAWGS! GO IRISH!