Ever since I was born, I've been brought up rooting for Georgia Tech. Both of my parents were alumni, heck, they met through the Baptist Student Union at Tech, so of course that's how they brought me up. But also, ever since I was born, I've lived in Athens, Ga., the home of the Georgia Bulldogs. Based on that and my experiences growing up as a Tech fan in the heart of Bulldog country have made my annual Hate Week much different from most Tech fans'.
For a lot of Tech fans, Hate Week isn't just a one-week ordeal; its spans the whole year, no exceptions. You always hate the Dawgs no matter what. They have the mindset of "My two favorite teams are Tech and whoever's playing Georgia."
It's never really been that way for me. Mainly because it couldn't be that way. Living in Athens my whole life, I never really had any friends that were Tech fans. Even my siblings, over time, joined the dark side (so to speak) and became fans of the Dawgs (much to my dad's displeasure). So if I wanted friends during football season, I couldn't really afford to go around blabbing about how this is definitely the year Tech would beat UGA. They didn't want to hear that. I would just get funny looks and ignored.
Over time, I've grown to actually like a lot of the Dawg fans I run across (I mean, come on, my girlfriend is a Georgia fan). Sure, there is some good-natured back-and-forth in there, but never anything too bad. I started going to the Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) at UGA with my brother and sister when they first transferred to UGA even though I wasn't a student. I was still accepted there and met some great people, including a personal mentor to me.
There are also some that tend to get on my nerves. For instance, I had gone downtown to Insomnia cookies with a couple of friends of mine after dinner one night and as we were walking back to their place, we were crossing the street. It was cold, so I had my Tech hoodie on. Anyway, as we're crossing, we see this elderly gentleman who notices my hoodie. He spits in my general direction and says, "F***ing Georgia Tech? You out of your damn mind?" Sure, I could have come back with some sort of sarcastic retort, but that's not who I am.
A lot of people like to ask me why I held out being a Tech fan, especially after I transferred to UGA. Part of it might be because I'm stubborn. Maybe I don't really want to look like a fairweather fan. I don't really know what the reason is. I've always loved Tech.
A lot of people also like to ask me why I chose UGA since I'm a Tech fan. That, I can answer. Part of it is that UGA does offer a degree I want (Journalism). It's also close enough that I don't have to worry about looking for an apartment yet, so I save a ton of money with that. I've also met some great friends through UGA. It will always be an important part of my life.
Last year, I finally got my first chance to experience Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate in person. I had always just watched it on TV. My seat was in the corner of the endzone right next to Georgia Tech's band. It was also right in the middle of quite a few UGA fans. I ended up sitting next to an elderly gentleman (different one from before) who was a UGA fan. He was a fascinating fellow and actually a Tech alum who had become a UGA fan after his kids started going there.
The game itself was fantastic. When Tech got their first score, a fade to Darren Waller, I remember the guy behind me (another UGA fan) asked, "Good grief, how tall is that guy?" I calmly turn around. "Oh, he's about 6-5 or 6-6." As the game continued, the elderly gentleman and I kept talking, giving our thoughts as the game progressed.
And then we got towards the end of the game. Tech is majestically working their way down the field and then Zach Laskey scored the go-ahead touchdown run with about four-and-a-half minutes left. I was pretty excited, but then it dawned on me. They left way too much time on the clock.
I got a little excitement back once Tech had the ball back, but then Thomas fumbled it away and UGA had it back. Sure enough, UGA worked their way down the field and managed to score, leaving just 18 seconds left on the clock. It had all come to a halt at that point. I had been so excited and then UGA scored and I just sat down. It was another year of the same. And then UGA squibbed it.
They did that short kick and me (and everyone around me) just went "Huh?" as Georgia Tech ran and got it to a pretty decent spot. On the next play Justin Thomas dropped back to pass, but ended up taking off to set up what became a pretty exciting play in that game, but I'm sure I don't need to remind y'all what happened.
Harrison Butker lined up for the 53-yard field goal and I just sat down and thought I can't watch this. Tech snapped the ball and Butker nailed the kick about 53-and-a-half yards. Just enough to clear the goal posts. I was caught up in the excitement of what was going on and was going crazy.
And then overtime came. Tech got the ball first and worked their way down the field pretty easily and scored a touchdown. But UGA managed to block the PAT. I was happy that we got the touchdown, but I was thinking that we were probably going to lose because of that missed PAT. I was already trying to cope with the loss when Hutson Mason snapped the ball and threw it right to DJ White. I saw that on the side of the field that I was on. I went nuts after that. Thankfully, I calmed down enough to say goodbye to that old man that was standing next to me. He congratulated me on a good game and we went our separate ways.
Why do I tell this story? I guess it's to show y'all that yeah, there are some UGA fans out there that can be completely obnoxious. There are some Tech fans that are the exact same way (trust me, I know plenty). With my fandom of Tech, I prefer to be more civil in hopes that I can find fans of other teams doing the same.
So UGA fans who may be reading this, best of luck this weekend. I wish y'all were coming in at full strength, but I understand at this point in the season nobody is 100 percent healthy, so I hope y'all come with everything you got. I hope that if y'all win, y'all show some respect (as I know some will). Y'all earned bragging rights, sure, but respect is a nice thing too.
Tech fans, I wish the same thing to y'all too. Best of luck. Bring everything you got. If you win, then we celebrate. If not, give props to UGA. Clearly, neither team has been up to their standards for this year, so this game will probably end up coming down to whomever loses less badly. At this point, I'm just hoping for a good clean game and hopefully that's what we'll get.