Even the hate has lost its sting

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

It's a long tumble down from a year ago, when Georgia put Georgia Tech away in the stadium that bears the name of its revered old coach, Bobby Dodd. Since the two no longer share the fellowship of the same conference, it had no effect on the Bees' road to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship. Nor does it put a dent in the Clean Old Hate that once bespoke of their rivalry. Win or lose, the pain subsides as soon as the losing side gets out of sight.

There's little left but braggin' rights, and there hasn't been much to brag about on either side this go-round. Well, maybe that isn't quite fair to the Bulldogs. Look, they marched into Jacksonville with a chip on their shoulders, but marched out muttering about "what could have been."

Then they gave the mighty Auburn Tigers all they could handle, and any other year -- that is, before or after Newton (Cam not Isaac) -- the edge would have been theirs.

Georgia is favored by those unidentified factotums who arrive at their predictions by their own private process. Not that there was a lot of mystery in their conclusion. Most everybody I know, who isn't a pledge to one team or the other, has come to a kindred conclusion -- Georgia the favorite by 10 to 13 points.

It has been quite a spell since these two teams went into their neighborhood spat bearing so many losses. In 1994, the two had a combined record of 14 defeats and one tie (Georgia's). Tech bore the brunt of the losses -- 10 -- shared by Bill Lewis, who fell victim to a racial insurrection, before George O'Leary was handed the gavel.

This season, Georgia, the favored team, has lost six times, Tech five.

Should the odds-setter come through in his prediction, both teams would end the season 6-6. And the folly of that is, even on these disappointing records, both will surely get bowl invitations, laughable as it may seem. Once upon a time, bowl games were rewards for splendid seasons. "Bowl" is now a sadly abused term, for these games are nothing more than a season extension, something to pad the operational account.

I've read somewhere that this will be the first time Georgia and Georgia Tech have played under the lights in Athens. Not so fast there. Two years ago they played half a game under Sanford Stadium lighting, when Georgia Tech led off with a Roddy Jones touchdown run in the third quarter and turned defeat into victory, 45-42.

The game had started in 3:30 daylight. This one, indeed, will be incandescent all the way. It seems only fair that the one who pays the light bill should emerge victorious.