Giving Thanks on Rivalry Week

Rivalry Week and Thanksgiving Memories
November 18, 2007

“Land of the pilgrim’s pride”

What are you thankful for on this most American of holidays?

We’ll get to the football in a minute, but first …

I am thankful for …

Rainy days … of which we have had precious few in north Georgia this year.

Autumn leaves and the wonderful colors that remind me of football, fireplaces, and frosty mornings.

Family and friends … those I get to see frequently, those I only see occasionally (but think of often), and those I won’t see again on this earth. What a blessing all have been.

The clutter and clatter of toys, books, clothes, and noise that means a child still lives in the house.

A nation filled with mostly good people, no matter how much some try to convince us otherwise.

Biscuits and gravy on a Saturday morning … my oh my.

Sunday morning newspapers … the thicker the better.

Christmas trees and trimmings … although some people put them up way too early.

Staying home on the Friday after Thanksgiving … you hit the malls, I’ll hit the hay for another hour!

Now, on to the great campus game … college football.

This is rivalry week and college football fans have plenty to be thankful for.

Thanks for the Egg Bowl. The nation’s most underrated rivalry gets back on television, but it belongs on Thursday night instead of Friday morning. Many Thanksgiving evenings were topped off with a last turkey sandwich and a side of Egg Bowl.

Thanks for Ohio State-Michigan. Yes it was last week. Yes the Big Ten is down and the game can sometimes be boring and low-scoring. Still, if you truly love college football, you love this Midwestern game that has grown into a national spectacle. We miss you Woody and Bo.

Thanks for Georgia-Georgia Tech. Actually, thanks for the ulcers you provide because this game is so intense it is nicknamed ‘clean, old-fashioned hate.” As a Bulldog alum, I don’t hate Tech … of course we have beaten them six times in a row.

Thanks for the great games of yesteryear. The NFL has mostly taken over football on Thanksgiving, but there was a time when things were different. Probably the most famous college game on Turkey Day was the great 1971 Nebraska-Oklahoma matchup. #1 vs. #2. National TV audience settled in after the big meal. Heisman Trophy winner (Johnny Rodgers of the Huskers). The wishbone and tear-away jerseys (Oklahoma with Jack Mildren and Greg Pruitt). Nebraska 35 Oklahoma 31.

Thanks for the rivalry trophies and nicknames. Apple Cup (Washington-WSU). Civil War (Oregon-Oregon State). Bedlam (Oklahoma-OSU). The Old Oaken Bucket (Indiana-Purdue). The Golden Boot (Arkansas-LSU). The Little Brown Jug (Minnesota-Michigan). Floyd of Rosedale (Iowa-Minnesota).

Thanks for the Fighing Irish. Love them or hate them, Notre Dame brings attention to college football, and that’s a good thing.

Thanks for Army-Navy. You know the game is important, and that these young men will soon be doing something even more significant.

Thanks for the Iron Bowl. For my money, no other rivalry matches this one in partisan interest. For Alabama and Auburn fans this game is the most intense, most anticipated, and most talked-about rivalry. These two groups see each other every day, so you know it’s been a long five years for Tide fans.

Thanks for the sports media … sportswriters, broadcasters, and radio people who keep us up to date on all the games. Among my favorites are Tony Barnhart, Pat Forde, Ivan Maisel, Beano Cook, Todd Blackledge, Kirk Herbstreit, Paul Finebaum, Max Howell, Pat Dooley, Furman Bisher, and many, many others.

Thanks for all the great stadiums. The Big House. The Horseshoe. Between the Hedges. Neyland Stadium. The Swamp. The Rock in Hattiesburg. The Granddaddy. History and tradition in all of them.

Thanks for the fans. No other sport offers the passion, pageantry, and color of a college football game. Watch one or go to one this Thanksgiving … and be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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