Saturday, February 13, 2010

Your Haterade Pleases Cousin Pat

But I can't hear you over the sound of 800,000 people screaming at the Lombardi Trophy as it rolls down Canal Street in New Orleans.

No, really. I still hear the Who Dat Nation screaming. From my office. Three and four days later. Parades are still rolling, and some folks haven't even gone home yet.

I will have a post up later about the victory. It will have pictures from the parade. The amount of smack talk I plan to include varies minute by minute. Will it be "Classy Pat," or "Drunk, Obnoxious Georgia Pat?" While I can match neither Dante's volume or vitriol, regulars at Carrollton Station fondly remember my behavior during the SEC Championship.

But this post isn't about that. It is about the Saints haters.

I will not focus on the mainstream sports media, who went down on bended knee for Bret Favre before the NFC Championship and followed that accurate prediction up by coronating Peyton Manning for two full weeks before the Super Bowl was actually played on a football field.

Add to that the wholly inexplicable media hype that continues to surround Tim Tebow. Tebow? Really? Didn't Mark Ingram and Greg McElroy silence this tyrrany back in December? (And no, I will never get tired of that link.) Incredible.

But, as a longtime UGA fan, I was prepared for all of that. One thing that I have found endearing and frustrating are the similarities of Mark Richt's Bulldawgs and Sean Payton's Saints, when it comes to football.

I can even understand the division hate from Falcons fans that the Saints were poised to capture a Lombardi before the Birds. But the Birds have had their chances before.

Maybe it is just because my NFL (and especially Super Bowl) rooting interests were determined for so long by teams I hated (Patriots, Rams, Ravens, Cowboys, Vikings) than the teams I root for (Saints, Falcons, Jaguars, Raiders).

Add to that my admittedly ridiculous and irrational SEC-patented "Conference Loyalty Fanaticism" (now experiencing dedicated blowback from certain local Notre Dame partisans). After leading Ms. Mae's in "ENN-EFF-SEE" and "MANN - INNG" chants during the Patriots-Giants Super Bowl, I guess I inferred that everyone kinda made up their minds like I did. Some of the comments from Falcons/Dawgs fans tell me this isn't just a "Patrick is crazy as hell" thing.

And I have to admit, I thought a lot of the home-state partisans would be vicarious Saints fans throughout the playoffs for several reasons. First of all, Warner was QB'ing the Cardinals. And he terrorized Saints and Falcons fans alike when he helmed the St. Loius Rams. His original Cindarella story came at our shared expense, as did his second glass slipper. I thought plenty of NFC partisans would have the Saints' back come pumpkin time.

And I could understand some sympathies for Favre if he had led the Pack into the Superdome, because Green Bay is a team that is hard to hate. But the Vikings? It seems that, no matter what year it is, they are standing in the way of some team getting to the Super Bowl or the Playoffs. In years they aren't, they have boats full of strippers and blow.

Then the Colts. I was absolutely expecting every die-hard Georgia Bulldawgs fan to leap into the Saints' rooting category. Peyton Manning literally annihilated the Dawgs' dreams for four years. We even beat Tebow once, but we never beat Manning. He even embarassed us in 1997, a win that would keep us out of the SEC Championship Game that year.

So, color me surprised when I read this post, from one of the most respected names in the UGA blogosphere. Despite the tongue-in-cheek nature of the criticisms, I think my heart broke a little, reading that, since I read King's opinions every single day.

Let us break down his points of contention:

1. Drew Brees was named MVP of the 2000 Outback Bowl while losing to Georgia. Yes, there were 85 scholarship athletes on a roster full of NFL talent for the Dawg's winning squad that year. Perdue had...Drew Brees. 85 guys beat one guy by 3 points, and had to play catch-up to do it. I watched that game the whole way through, when many a Dawg fan was changing the channel when the score hit 25-0. I can truthfully say that if any player in Red and Black wanted that MVP trophy, they had their chances.

2. Florida fans are rooting for the Saints. I can name a Georiga fan or three who went to Saints games this year. Woof Dat.

3. Sean Payton is gutless. Refrences here and here. Gutless? Gutless? For calling plays that have a high probability of success? I thought that was called good coaching. And what the hell was the percentage on that reverse play that never works? Why the hell don't they run the ball more?

This is the point that sticks in my craw the most, and this goes back to the point way above about Mark Richt and Sean Payton sharing certain football tendencies. Both:

A. Are offense first coaches
B. Chronically underutilize the running game/running back talent
C. Build offesnive schemes based on a precision passing game
D. Use the pass to open up the run
E. Engage in inexplicable playcalling during crucial moments of games
E1. Sean Payton & the Reverse that Stalls Drives
E2. Mark Richt & the QB Sneak on 3rd & Long
E3. These plays never, ever work against division rivals from Florida
F. Famously utilize onside kicks at surprising times
G. Have had to resort to drastic measures to improve defensive coaching
H. Have employed highly unconventional methods to motivate players
I. Are already local legends because of the success each has brought their respective long-suffering programs


A. Sideline emotion
B. Media savvy

Seriously. Since I moved to NOLA in 2006, it has been like watching the same team in different uniforms on football weekends. I can barely imagine the reaction at Dawgsports if some NFL blogger called CMR gutless. Especially for focusing on plays that have a high percentage of success.

Most especially after an offseason where the Georgia special teams coach, who did not play percentages, defended his percentage-ignoring directional kicking philosophy because it provided a bigger challenge. I guess he had guts, but he is no longer coaching at the University of Georgia, is he?

Luckily, what all this really means is that both of these teams have successful, classy, championship coaches. The Saints winning the silver football shouldn't feel like an aluminum bat to the Mayor's face, but should provide further validation that Coach Mark Richt is indeed the right coach for Georgia, and he will one day bring home a crystal football for the Dawgs.

Woof. Dat.



Dante said...

Maybe as a Falcons fan I can explain some. I don't cheer for other teams in my division. Period. Strength of schedule means jack in the NFL (See NFC West). You don't need the Saints to win a ton of games to keep your playoff hopes alive. You just need them to lose two. I cheer vicariously through former Falcons and former Bulldogs as long as they're out of division, but vicariously through NFC South teams? No thanks.

But maybe part of my reasoning comes from not having any teams in the NFL I really hate. At best I'm indifferent to the likes of the Eagles, Redskins, Saints, Panthers, Bucs, and Rams. Oh wait, I do f'ing hate the 49ers (stupid Catch...). So there's the one. And I do tend to prefer NFC and former-NFL-turned-AFC teams but that's more a guideline than a rule.

Leigh C. said...

Well, I've NEVER liked the Cowgirls. Never ever. Anybody playing them has got my backing. But it's been the Saints for me since the Oilers schlepped up to Tennessee. Interesting to see how this works when you're NOT watching your favorite teams, though.