How ‘bout them Dawgs!

We hunkered down when it mattered. We didn’t quit. And when Georgia defender Kelee Ringo intercepted 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young’s pass for a pick-6, we stepped on the Tide with a hobnail boot

and broke their nose.

After 41 years, the Georgia Bulldogs are the National Champions. Oh, let me say it again, the Georgia Bulldogs are the National Champions!

The world has changed a lot since December 31, 1980. That’s the day Margaret Garrett loaded up about a dozen 11 and 12-year-old boys and drove us to an ice-skating rink in Marietta for her son Ben’s birthday party. I wore a Herschel Walker jersey with the number 34 plastered across the front.

We had a great time skating around the ice while Ben blabbered about how lousy a team Georgia is and will get whipped by Notre Dame the next day. It’s hard to tolerate Auburn fans when Georgia’s the superior team, including 16 wins over the last 20 years.

After our time was finished, we had to check out and as I put my equipment on the counter, one ice skate fell towards the ground and landed on my big toe. It turned blue. And it hurt like hell.

The next morning, I was in pain and Georgia was preparing to play for the National title. Thankfully, my mother received a tip from a local pharmacist that the easiest way to remove a toenail was to take a paper clip, put it on a red-hot stove and let it burn a hole in the nail.

It worked.

My toenail popped off, the pain was relieved, Herschel led the Bulldogs to a National title and I didn’t have to listen to Ben’s obnoxious voice for at least another year.

The celebration of Georgia’s 1980 title even made its way into the pulpit at the Carrollton First United Methodist Church. That’s when pastor Dr. Charles Wilson broke the liturgical rules by changing the cross embroidered stole he wore around his robe from white to the color red.

“How ‘bout them Dawgs!” the exuberant preacher shouted when he stepped to the pulpit.

“The Methodist church is pretty strict about the colors we wear to be in harmony with the liturgical calendar,” he told me in a 2012 phone call. “Thankfully, the Bishop thought it was funny and gave me a free pass. I was even able to convince our music director Joyce Alford to change the choir’s colors to red. It was the least I could do.”

The 2021 Georgia team will be etched in history as one of the greatest ever. And Alabama wasn’t too shabby either. I would hate to play them again (and again and again…) as both teams are about as evenly matched as any I’ve ever seen.

Bulldog quarterback Stetson Bennett will be patted on the back by every Georgia fan he encounters for the next 75 years. His fairy tale ending of rising from a walk-on who wasn’t offered a single scholarship by any school in the SEC to win a championship may one day be featured as a Hollywood film in the ranks with underdog sports films like “Rocky” and “Rudy.”

It takes a lot of hard work, excellent recruiting, executing the fundamentals of football blocking and tackling, making few mistakes, great coaching and so much more to win a title. However, I think the real reason Georgia beat Alabama was prayer. Not just any prayer—but the prayer I asked the good Lord above before kickoff written by my old boss and mentor Dan Magill published in his 1993 book “Bull Doggerel: Fifty Years of Anecdotes from the Greatest Bulldog Ever.”

“In case you’ve overlooked it, Lord, we covet what every school covets: the national collegiate football championship! You let us come close to it in 1927, 1942, 1946 and 1971. You may not remember it but we do…

“We know that you move in mysterious ways, Lord, but we don’t understand how you could let so many of our fine boys get so banged up and yet you saved that good for nothing Bulldog, Lewis Grizzard…

“Be with us today, Lord, and when you hear our Red Coat band playing, ‘Onward Christian Bulldogs,’ please shed thy grace on us. And it needn’t be a lob-sided win. Just one point will be fine…

“Oh, Lord, let our Dream come true. Free our people. Let ‘No. 1’ ring throughout our land. From Ludowici westward to Tallapoosa…from the mountains of Hiawassee downhill to Hahira, let No. 1 ring! And, Lord, if you let these good things come to pass, we promise to be as humble as Herschel.”

And here we are, finally, the champions of college football. Thank you, Oh, Lord…

Amen!

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