Republicans say President Barack Obama has been too passive in responding to the crisis in Ukraine, with some even suggesting he projects a weakness in foreign affairs that emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin to advance militarily into that country… .
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN on Sunday that Obama should “stop going on television and trying to threaten thugs and dictators.” Graham added that “Every time the president goes on national television and threatens Putin or anyone like Putin, everybody’s eyes roll, including mine. We have a weak and indecisive president that invites aggression.”
What do they want Obama to do, send American troops storming into the Crimea to drive the Russian invaders out? Even if that weren’t a fantastically horrible idea, it’d be something the American people would have no stomach for after a decade-long misadventure in Iraq that cost us billions of dollars we couldn’t really afford to throw away.
Or is it just that he’s not talking tough enough? Sure, he could say it’s wrong for Russia to invade a sovereign country that posed no immediate security threat (because it is), but then the rest of the world turns right around and says “Oh, you mean like y’all did in Iraq?”
The fact is, Obama doesn’t have a lot of good options here — or maybe any good options, period — and that’s primarily because our credibility on foreign military intervention was utterly decimated by Gulf War Part Deux. A war that Lindsey Graham, along with every other Republican quoted in that article, voted for and lustily supported until the bitter end.
Maybe they were playing a long game all along, knowing that a Democratic president would get elected sooner or later and hoping to be able to use this to back him into a corner? If so, bravo, guys — that is truly some awe-inspiring trollery on a global level. Doesn’t do much good for us or the Ukraine, of course, but at least you’re putting that feckless black president in his place.
1. A couple years ago, when pro-LGBT forces declared a boycott of Chick-fil-A in response to CEO Dan Cathy’s homophobic statements, they were called "Christophobic" (?) and "un-American." But now, when right-wing business owners in Arizona want the right to refuse service to anyone they don’t like, it’s all about “religious freedom.”
So it’s proper and American to exercise your religious/moral beliefs as a business owner, but not as a consumer. How do you like that, man — not only are corporations people, their religious/moral convictions officially supersede those of individuals. Sounds awesome. I wish I was a corporation.
2. I’m flying out to Vegas this week for a freelance gig, and not only am I flying America’s Aeroflot to get there, they’re making me change planes in Phoenix both ways. Now, even though it’s 2014, there’s still a not-insignificant segment of the evangelical right who still believe the Catholic church is the whore of Babylon. What if I’m sitting around in Sky Harbor on Thursday and the waitress at Chili’s Too doesn’t want to serve me because she thinks I worship the Virgin Mary? Can she do that?
3. I don’t plan on spending any money in Phoenix, of course, but that may well require some prior planning on my part, i.e. buying a drink or a sandwich in the Atlanta or Vegas airport and smuggling it on board to enjoy during my layover in PHX. Both Georgia and Nevada have so far resisted what I’m sure is a burning temptation to pass a law similar to Arizona’s.
And it occurred to me the other day: Why haven’t they passed, or even brought up, laws like Arizona’s homosexual Jim Crow bill? Nevada, obviously, has a tourism industry to worry about. Georgia’s got tourism and convention money to consider too, plus they have a burgeoning film industry that would surely think twice about doing any work here if gay actors, directors and production members had reason to believe they couldn’t even get a second glance at a Waffle House.
Arizona, evidently, has none of those things, or they wouldn’t feel free to crap on entire demographic groups like this. I mean, sure, they’ve got the Grand Canyon, but that’s a national park and the feds aren’t ever gonna conform to discrimination like this. So congratulations, Arizona, Kansas, Idaho and any other state that proposes anti-gay bills like these: You’re basically telling the world, “Our state sucks and nobody would ever want to come here.” Hope it was worth it.
Edited:Well, shit. So much for Georgia managing to avoid the temptation to leap on board the discrimination train. Never let it be said that there’s nothing another state can pass that’s so stupid our own lawmakers won’t try to top it. Our legislature is basically composed of good ol’ boys standing around the campfire going “NAWWW, MAN, WATCH ‘IS.”
doug has mundane details of modern life explained to him (first in a series)
ME (glancing through Victoria’s Secret swimwear catalogue) Why have these scrunch-butt bathing suits become so common all of a sudden? All it does is make you look like you have a wedgie all the time.
PATIENT FIANCÉE Ruching is good for skinny girls because it hugs the body in certain places and creates the impression of shape — like, it gives them curves in places where they wouldn’t otherwise have them.
ME But if you’ve got a flat ass, why would you want to call attention to it?
PATIENT FIANCÉE That’s the point — it makes your ass look curvier than it is.
ME I mean, if you want to call attention to your ass that badly, just wear a thong.
PATIENT FIANCÉE (witheringly) Yeah, that’s what everybody should do.
Josh Harvey-Clemons, all you other young’uns out there, sit your asses down for a minute. Uncle Doug’s gonna let you in on a little something, a bit of inside information that apparently is only known to old folks (and not even necessarily to all of them). This is the only place you’re gonna get it, so here goes.
You ready? You ready for this? OK, here it is: Marijuana’s not actually THAT great.
I know, I know, based on what you see in music videos and movies and whatnot, it kind of looks like pot is this magical thing, something that not only makes you blissfully happy but also establishes you as a carefree establishment-defier and/or a supreme badass. But I’ve smoked a lot of pot — like, a lot — in my hrrmmfrrzzsomething years on this planet, and I think I have enough experience to declare it “just OK.”
"Well, if it’s not that great, why have you smoked so much of it?" Well, for one thing, most of that was in college or my first few years out. These days I only come across it maybe once every few months, if that. And I’ll admit, in social situations it can be fun to be part of someone’s duchie-passing circle, everyone getting buzzed together. But let me make a couple observations about that: First, I have never been ragged on for turning down a bong rip or a puff on a jay. Probably because I’ve only ever smoked up around good friends, which is really the only time it’s fun to do anyway. I think the "Just Say No" forces in the ’80s did themselves a real disservice by portraying the refusal of drugs as something that requires a superhuman level of courage; making that big a deal out of it only makes people more likely to go along and not make waves. Nine times out of 10, nobody’s gonna give a shit whether you accepted or refused (and if they’re doing pot, they’re probably not gonna remember, either).
My second observation is this: There’s nothing so transcendent about the marijuana experience, even in a social setting, that it wouldn’t be just as enjoyable and endorphine-releasin’ to have a cocktail, eat a piece of pie or play Mario Kart. Enough with the hippie bullshit about how weed expands your mind and gives you all sorts of fantastic ideas; what it actually does is make you not want to do anything, and even if you do stumble ass-backward into an earth-shattering revelation while you’re tripping, you’ll forget it by the time you sober up.
Now, there is something to be said for that relaxation element, but there’s plenty of other ways you can get that — ways that won’t involve you getting kicked off a damn football team and potentially putting your future NFL career on a razor’s edge. (A positive drug test dropped Justin Houston from the first round of the 2011 draft to the third and probably cost him millions — and he was a first-team All-American who had 10 sacks the previous season. You think you’re gonna get treated any kinder as a sophomore who hasn’t actually accomplished anything yet?)
I think our nation’s drug laws — particularly as they pertain to marijuana — are as dumb as it gets, and I absolutely think there’s no reason for pot possession or usage to be a criminal offense. But I also think I should drive a Tesla and have a TV show where I play Christina Hendricks’ husband, so. The fact of the matter is that there are still a lot of places in this country — most of them, in fact — where having pot in your system will give people an excuse to cause you lots of problems. And if you’re going to put yourself at risk for those problems, I’d hope it’d be over something a lot more important (and satisfying) than a joint. I mean, if a joint actually could double your IQ and open your mind to that higher plane of consciousness where the secrets of our existence and the meaning of life become clear, I’d say light that motherfucker up and to hell with your parents, your coaches or the law. But oh, lordy, are you gonna be disappointed if you think it’s actually gonna do any of those things. Best-case scenario is that whatever lame-ass movie you’re watching on the USA Network at three in the afternoon is gonna seem a lot funnier to you. That’s it.
So there’s your bit of secret knowledge for the day. You can hold your heads up high knowing that you are now just a little bit wiser than everyone else out there. Go with God, and get off my lawn.
When Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced publicly over the weekend that he’s gay, the negative responses predictably broke down into two groups: the proud, unrepentant homophobes who called him an abomination and a faggot, and the folks who insisted they weren’t homophobic but just wondered why Sam had to be all up in their faces about his sexual orientation.
The second group would like you to believe there’s plenty of daylight between themselves and the first. Do not let them get away with this. What these folks call “throwing it in people’s faces,” we straights just call “living normal lives.” Don’t we? I mean, I can post pictures of hot redheads on my blog, read (heh, “read”) the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue on the bus to work, and introduce my fiancée around to everyone I know without any repercussions for these overt displays of heterosexuality. Yet all Michael Sam does is say he’s gay and all of a sudden he’s this flamboyant attention-seeker. Can we really not see the double-standard here?
The alternative to Michael Sam coming out and “throwing it in people’s faces,” of course, would be to stay in the closet, hide the truth about whom he loves … and basically act straight. In other words, do exactly the things that gay people had to do for centuries before we entered a slightly more enlightened time in which gay people aren’t automatically condemned as evil perverts. Is that what the “throwing it in my face” crowd would prefer? Apparently, even having to acknowledge the existence of something they don’t agree with or aren’t comfortable with is too much for some people’s delicate sensibilities to handle. You can call that a lot of things, but you can’t call it “tolerance.”
Keep a very close eye out for these people if you’re a sports fan inclined to participate in comment threads or message boards. You’ll hear a lot of them profess tolerance and declare that they don’t care what someone’s sexual orientation is, but then they’ll take that a step further and wonder “why this is even a story” they have to hear about. The answer is pretty simple: It’s a story because no active pro or college football player has come out before. And the reason none of them have come out before is because they feared the reactions of teammates, sportswriters and fans — i.e. members of the “stop throwing it in my face” crowd. The longer we as a society forced gay football players to live in the closet, the bigger a story we made it when one of them inevitably decided to come out.
If you’re one of those folks who doesn’t like reading all this news coverage of a player’s homosexuality, try this: Instead of complaining to anyone who will listen about how you don’t want to have to hear about it, just pipe down. The less of a fuss we make about the first gay player coming out, the sooner the next player will come out, and the next one, and the next one after that, until openly gay professional athletes are as common and non-newsworthy as the sun rising in the East. That’s what a tolerant, non-homophobic person like yourself really wants … isn’t it?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
2. Now read the first five words again: "Congress shall make no law." What that means is the government can’t infringe or impose any penalties upon your right to say whatever you like.
3. Beyond that, though, you’re on your own. If you say something in a public forum that embarrasses your employer and has the potential to harm their business, for example, they can fire you, and there ain’t shit you can do about it.
4. Also notice there’s nothing in there about being insulated from criticism. If you say something dickheaded and I’m all “Yo, man, you’re a dickhead,” I can do that. ‘Cause the first amendment applies to me, too.
5. Also notice there’s nothing in there about being constitutionally entitled to a TV show.
6. So when a TV network tells a guy who got super-rich making duck calls that they don’t want to put him on TV anymore because he’s kind of an idiot, I hope we can all take a step back and realize that there are way bigger injustices going on in the world these days. On an oppression scale of 1 to 10, 1 being Mom says you can’t eat your entire bag of Halloween candy in one sitting and 10 being the Holocaust, this barely counts as a 1.5.
on nice guys finishing last, or occasionally third in the sec east
We can argue all day about whether Georgia’s had the necessary killer instinct on the field, but do we have it off the field as well? And in the end, is that a more pertinent question?
Senator Blutarsky had a very insightful post yesterday pivoting off of Aaron Murray’s complete lack of Heisman buzz to ask whether “this passiveness creeps into other areas” of the Georgia program. Even as someone who follows individual awards about as closely as I follow Canadian politics — from the silly marketing contest of the Heisman on down — I’ll certainly admit to some major pangs of regret that Murray’s spectacular Georgia career hasn’t gotten more publicity than it has. And I, too, have wondered if maybe the Georgia football program as a whole should be willing to stand up for itself more.
Before I launch into too much of a diatribe here, let me say that as someone who is proud to hold a Georgia diploma, I am equally proud of the way our athletic department conducts itself. I’m sure Georgia Tech fans will drop their teeth when they hear me say it, but I think we operate in a pretty classy and ethical way over at Butts-Mehre. I’m proud that the “Mark Richt has lost control of…” meme has faded away as people have seen just how tight a ship Richt runs in terms of discipline. Certainly tighter than what Urban Meyer ran at Florida, as people are beginning to find out. Or to cite another example, it’s been a long time since we had any Jeremy Hills on our team — Richt has cut ties with players for misconduct far less serious than either of the offenses for which Hill has been permitted to skate.
While we’re holding our players accountable when they do wrong, though, are we spending equal effort promoting them when they’ve done right? Or defending them when they haven’t done wrong at all? Here I’m thinking of the way we just meekly accepted A.J. Green’s four-game suspension for selling his own property back in 2010, while other players were missing less time for shadier dealings. Does this passivity filter down to the way our players perform on the field?
And does it affect the way high-school recruits perceive our program and its place in the national hierarchy? Do they perceive Georgia as a place that will stand up for them and market them well for their achievements? With the usual caveat about how the state of Georgia has so much blue-chip talent that Mark Richt literally can’t sign them all, I wonder if our don’t-make-waves attitude has something to do with the ease with which coaches such as Nick Saban, Gus Malzahn and Hugh Freeze can come into this state and grab prospects Georgia desperately wants. (It’s certainly not a matter of program stature — look at the state Auburn and Ole Miss were in when Malzahn and Freeze got there.)
Let me be clear: This is not a call for Georgia to be loosening the reins on discipline (well, except for our draconian marijuana policy, but we can have the drug-legalization debate another time) or to demand any less of our players when it comes to being upstanding citizens. For example: As much as it’s driven me crazy this season to see Nick Marshall, a former Georgia player, leading Auburn to an out-of-nowhere national-championship bid, I wouldn’t change a thing about how Georgia dealt with him back in February 2012. If I’m Mark Richt, I’m not about to stand in front of my team and tell them that they have to continue sharing locker-room space with someone who stole from them. And I certainly don’t want Georgia developing a reputation as a program where QBs can go to rehab their image after they’ve been chased away for malfeasance elsewhere.
And when the NCAA screws over players like A.J. Green — or Ray Drew and Ramik Wilson, victims of the two worst targeting calls I’ve ever seen during this year’s Vanderbilt game — I want us raising holy hell about it. Enough of this “don’t make waves, we’ll handle it through official channels” stuff. So Mark Richt or Greg McGarity might get fined for speaking out too harshly against the officials? Pay the fine and move on. It’s not like we can’t afford it.
Mark Richt is never going to be Nick Saban and our athletic department is never going to be Alabama, or Auburn, or LSU, or [insert longtime rival here]. That’s not what I’m asking for. I’m simply asking for our athletic department to stand up for its players — and itself. Nice guys don’t necessarily finish last, but meek, accepting ones typically do. At times it’s been tough reconciling that fact with our overwhelming emphasis on running a “classy,” “proper” program, but Richt, McGarity and the rest of the folks at the top simply have to be more confident that we can promote, market and defend ourselves more aggressively without selling away our souls.
After observing the wildly disparate reactions among my fellow white Southerners to the cases of Trayvon Martin and Jameis Winston — two African-American teenagers from Florida who have never been charged with any crimes — I have a bit of advice to offer that I think is pretty airtight.
AHEM. YOUNG BLACK MEN: IF YOU WANT TO SUCCEED IN THIS COUNTRY, LEARN TO PLAY FOOTBALL. IF YOU EVER GET INTO THE SLIGHTEST BIT OF TROUBLE, WHITE PEOPLE WILL LEAP TO YOUR DEFENSE. THEY WON’T EVEN WAIT TO FIND OUT IF YOU DID ANYTHING OR NOT! GROWN MEN WITH DAUGHTERS WILL TAKE TO THE STREETS TO PROCLAIM THAT ANY WOMAN WHO’D ACCUSE YOU OF ANYTHING IS A LYING SLUT! PEOPLE WHO WOULD OTHERWISE CROSS TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET IF THEY SAW YOU APPROACHING WILL HAIL YOU AS A HERO AND ROLE MODEL! YOU WILL HAVE CRACKED THE WHITE POWER STRUCTURE FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE*!
* Offer only good for as long as you are good at football.
In 2010, you deserved better than what the NCAA gave you, when they forced you to go without A.J. Green for the first four games of your college career. Who knows how different that first awful month and a half would’ve gone if you’d had a future NFL Hall of Famer to throw to. Maybe those games against South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Colorado go differently, and instead of the worst season of Mark Richt’s career, we’re looking back on an inspiring 10-win campaign led by a redshirt freshman.
In 2011, you deserved better than what the fans gave you, when we were rolling our eyes and grumbling about how you “couldn’t win the big one,” completely ignoring the fact that you’d led us from a losing season to 10 wins, an SEC East title and Georgia’s first season sweep of the Tennessee-Florida-Auburn-Georgia Tech rivalry quadrifecta in decades.
In 2012, you deserved better than what fate gave you, when you went up against Nick Saban’s Alabama juggernaut in the biggest game of the season and didn’t blink even once — and nearly led the Dawgs to what would’ve been a comeback victory for the ages, only to fall five yards short. Fifteen feet short of a massive upset, an SEC title and what almost certainly would’ve been a savaging of Notre Dame for the national championship.
And in 2013, you deserved better than … well, everything. You deserved better than a painfully green defense that forced you to pile the team on your back and win shootouts on practically a weekly basis. You deserved better than to have an all-world safety valve like Todd Gurley taken away from you, followed by nearly every one of your top receivers. You deserved better than to have yet another thrilling comeback win stolen away from you, this time by that fluke play at Auburn. And you deserved better than to have your Georgia career end with an ACL tear on Senior Night, for Christ’s sake, turning what should’ve been a wonderful send-off (and our most dominating victory of the season) into a glorified memorial service.
And dammit, you deserve better than what I’m giving you right now, because you deserve to be remembered as something other than the unluckiest quarterback in Georgia history.
Here’s hoping something finally goes your way and you’re remembered for being a different kind of Georgia quarterback — the best one.
You always have been, are now and always will be a DGD, No. 11. Get well soon, and wherever you go next, good luck.
After a one-week hiatus for the entirely expected (but much appreciated) blowout win over Appalachian State, the Manic-Depressive Preview returns for what we thought back in July and August was going to be another cruise-control win at Auburn. To the entire nation’s shock, however, the Tigers are currently 9-1 and ranked No. 7 by the AP — damn you, Gus Malzahn, you brilliant fiend — so it looks like we might have an actual game on our hands. As for our individual previewers, they’re approaching this unexpected development pretty much how you’d expect. Let’s sit back and see whether they can keep from coming to blows as they hash out the 117th meeting of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.
Manic Doug: Hooo, boy, that win over Florida was really something, huh?
Depressive Doug: Yeah, something that probably took 10 or 15 years off my life. I’d really appreciate it if we didn’t have any more games like that this season.
MD: Hey, it was totally worth it. Beating the Gators, whether they’re good or bad, has always been the cure for what ails us. If we can carry the momentum from that game through the rest of the season, we’ll end up 9-3 and in perfect shape for a decent bowl game.
DD: Already predicting us to run the table, huh. Great.
MD: Why not? Under Richt we’re 14-1 in regular-season games after we’ve beaten Florida. Fifteen and one if you count last week’s win.
DD: Sure, you focus on the 15. I’ll focus on the 1 — the 2004 game at Auburn, where we got steamrolled by a Tiger team that ended up going undefeated. A team that bears a lot of similarities to this year’s Auburn squad, I might add.
MD: How you figure? That team had an incredible defense and a QB who could throw. This year’s Auburn squad, good as they are, has neither of those things.
DD: But they have a ground attack that’s averaging 320 yards a game. That’s good for third in the nation — even Georgia Tech is staring up at them in the rushing rankings right now.
MD: So what? Our defense has improved dramatically over the past few weeks — since that week we got lit up by LSU, we’ve decreased the number of yards we’ve allowed every single game. And even though our secondary is still struggling a bit, our front seven is only allowing 3.4 yards per carry, which means our defensive strength matches up perfectly with their big strength on offense.
DD: So Auburn rushing for more than 300 yards a game merits a “so what” from you, but Georgia’s defense looking good against the likes of Vanderbilt, Florida and App State is significant. OK then. Glad you’ve got your priorities straight.
MD: So here’s a question, is it “significant” that Auburn’s pass defense is ranked 81st in the country? And other than Texas A&M and LSU, it’s not like they’ve faced a bunch of juggernaut passing attacks, either.
DD: When you’ve been blowing people out the way Auburn has been the last few weeks, they’re going to pass a lot more to try and keep up, so no, I don’t think that’s such a big deal.
MD: Fine. We’ll see what your reaction is when Aaron Murray is lacing that defense for more than 400 yards this weekend.
DD: Murray hasn’t had even a 300-yard passing game since our receiving corps was wiped out against Tennessee, but sure, have fun believing that.
MD: He also didn’t have Todd Gurley for most of that stretch, either. But with Gurley back to give the Auburn defense something to think about, we’ve got a real shot at putting some points on the board. Against ranked opponents — LSU, Ole Miss and A&M, all of whom have balanced, productive offenses — Auburn’s allowing more than 500 yards a game.
DD: OK, so best-case scenario, we have to win a shootout like we were doing the first few weeks of the season, only without Keith Marshall and the top tier of our receiving corps. You really think we can manage that, particularly with the kind of ball-control offense Auburn’s capable of playing?
MD: I absolutely do, ‘cause I don’t know if you caught the tail end of the Florida game, but we’re capable of playing a little ball control ourselves, and against a much better defense than the one we’ll see this weekend, I might add. Here’s the X-factor, though: While Georgia is relatively healthy and confident for the first time in more than a month, Auburn is looking ahead to the Iron Bowl. To read their blogs and message boards, they’re already counting the Georgia game as a win and just biding their time until Saban comes to town. Well, fuck that. I’m thinking they’re gonna come out a little flat and Georgia’s gonna be on fire, and we’re gonna punch them in the mouth with a few quick scoring drives just like we did against Florida. Auburn’s too good to stay down for too long, and they’ll eventually get their heads screwed on straight and start moving the ball, but that’s when we start giving it to Gurley, Green and Douglas to grind out the clock and keep the ball out of the hands of the Auburn running backs. We’ll salt it away with another one of those long, late-game drives and win by a score of 37-27.
DD: Are you kidding me? A double-digit win over a top-10 opponent on the road? When was the last time we did that?
MD: Hold on, lemme look it up.
DD: Well, trust me, it’s gonna take a while, so while you’re doing that, let me school everyone with the unfortunate truth: All this “motivation” and “looking ahead” talk you’re putting out there is the kind of contrived mumbo-jumbo even Kirk Herbstreit wouldn’t fall for. Yes, Georgia typically gets a boost from a win in Jacksonville, but not enough of one to win when the opponent is markedly superior. And no, I don’t think you can just count on Auburn to be looking ahead, not after we’ve pasted them by 38 points each of the last two years. They’re too well-coached to treat this game as an afterthought, so I think it’s they who will be punching us in the mouth early on thanks to Nick Marshall, who’s a much more efficient passer than you or anyone else seems to want to give him credit for. Our defense may be improving, and good for them, but I still don’t like our chances against a mobile QB. So it’s Georgia, not Auburn, who will be playing a futile game of catch-up in the second half against an opponent that’s extremely good at handing the ball off, moving the chains and grinding out clock. Final score, Auburn 45, Georgia 30.
MD: For your information, we beat a ranked opponent on the road just two years ago. Georgia Tech was ranked 23rd when we played them and we won by two touchdowns.
DD: Seriously? That’s it? Georgia Tech?
MD: You asked a question, I answered it. Now who feels stupid?
DD: Not you, clearly, since you lack both the self-awareness to know when you’re wrong and the ability to feel shame.
MD: I have no idea what any of that means, so since you’re such a smart guy, why don’t you average up our score predictions so I can get over to the liquor store and get on with my day.
DD: Our predictions average out to an Auburn win by a score of 36-34.
MD: They do? Wait, I want to change my prediction.
DD: No, I’m not sitting through another round of this. Nor do I have any desire to have my math checked by someone who cheated his way through trigonometry in 11th grade.
MD: OK, you know that stuff is bullshit. When am I ever gonna need to know any of that?
DD: If the only education you ever received in your life was knowledge you thought you’d “need,” the only classes you would’ve ever taken would be mixology, hairstyling and female sexuality.
MD: That sounds like a pretty awesome slate, actually. You think there are any places where I could actually set up a schedule like that?
DD: Coincidentally enough, I think your best shot would be at Auburn. You could even take a class on fingerpainting while you were at it.
MD:Owwww! Look at you! You may be a total defeatist, but you still manage to keep it frosty!
DD: Hey, I have to figure out some way to have fun this weekend.
MD: Huh. I always thought fun was a foreign concept to you.
Manic Doug and Depressive Doug have both had two weeks to stew over Georgia’s disastrous, humiliating loss to Vanderbilt, and they’ve come out the other side of the bye week doing exactly what you’d think they would be doing: Manic Doug is counting victories down the back nine of the season and compiling a list of all the different ways Georgia still makes it to the SEC Championship Game, while Depressive Doug is declaring the season a lost cause and trying to gin up some excitement about National Signing Day. (Yes, he hates himself a little for that. Actually he hates himself a lot for that. Really, he hates himself a lot for a multitude of reasons.) Of course, there’s a little thing happening this weekend called the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, and while the annual neutral-site Georgia-Florida game has lost more than a little luster in terms of national relevance this year, it still holds plenty of significance in terms of the mental health of both fan bases — and both of our Manic-Depressive Previewers in particular, as you’ll see below.
Manic Doug: C’mon, you packed yet?
Depressive Doug: Packed? For what, the gym?
MD: For Jacksonville, thimbledick. You are coming, right?
DD: Why on earth would I do that?
MD: Because it’s Georgia-Florida! World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party! The biggest game of the year!
DD: In ceremonial terms, perhaps. But in practical terms, the biggest game of the year was Georgia-Tennessee, in which our offense got decimated by injuries and sounded the death knell for the 2013 season, even if we weren’t sure of that at the time.
MD: Seriously? Of all the times to be declaring the season dead and buried, you’re doing it the day before Georgia-Florida?!
DD: No, I actually did it the day we laid an egg against Missouri. Haven’t you been paying attention?
MD: Every time I think I’ve witnessed you being as mopey and Eeyorish as a human being can possibly be, you come up with a way to surprise me. Yes, the season has been rocky, and yes, we’ve been a fucking M*A*S*H unit on offense for like a month now. But, and if you’ll forgive me for being glib —
DD: It’s against my better judgment, but I always forgive you for being glib. It’s the only reason I can stand to be within 10 miles of you at any given moment.
MD: — beating Florida is the cure for what ails you! At least, it’s always been for us. Turned around a 2007 season that had been hanging by a thread. Gave us the confidence to make a stretch run in 2011 and hang on to the SEC East title. Helped us bounce back from the South Carolina loss and finish the regular season in dominating fashion last year. Beat Florida and this season will automatically feel a lot better, I promise.
DD: I’d really like to believe that. But even if that were true, what do you think the chances of us beating Florida are, honestly? If we couldn’t hold on to a lead against Vanderbilt, what makes you think we’ll do it against Florida? What makes you think we’ll even have a lead to begin with?
MD: Two words: Todd. Fuckin’. Gurley. He’s going to add the dimension that our offense has been lacking ever since Keith Marshall went down in the Tennessee game. With him as an every-down home-run threat on the ground, Florida can’t just send their back seven out to blanket our receivers, and that’s gonna let Aaron Murray finally let ‘er rip again.
DD: Given the way Murray’s played his first three outings against the Gators, I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. Just in case you were curious, here’s his line in three games in Jacksonville: 45-of-95, 632 yards, six touchdowns, seven picks. Sure, he’s having his best year yet — or was, until our entire receiving corps got destroyed — but is this really a time when you want to bank on him having a spectacular game? Particularly when Michael Bennett is gonna be our only proven receiving threat on the field Saturday?
MD: Three responses to that. One, as I’ve said, having Gurley back will make a big difference even with the receiving corps decimated. Two, Florida’s almost as badly banged up as we are; Dominique Easley, in particular, is a huge loss for them on the defensive line. That’s going to make things a lot easier for Gurley, and in turn for Murray. And three, we don’t need Murray to have the kind of 400-yard, five-TD performance we’ve needed from him in the past because this game just doesn’t have the makings of a shootout. Florida’s offense was terrible to begin with and they’ve lost Jeff Driskel, Matt Jones and Andre Debose on top of that, plus their starting right tackle. This might be one instance where even our defense can dominate.
DD: Aaron Murray having a good game in Jacksonville? This year’s defense having a good game period? This is supposed to be a football preview, not a short-fiction workshop.
MD: Hey, when they weren’t being put in a terrible position by horrendously shitty targeting calls, the defense actually played pretty well against Vanderbilt.
DD: Oh, good, they can put “Played sort of decently against Vanderbilt’s backup quarterback most of the time” on their résumés. Look, Florida may be almost as banged up as we are, but they’re still gonna put a higher caliber of athlete out there than Vandy did, and if you have anything positive to say about the way our pass defense has played this year, I have to question whether we’ve been watching the same team. Damian Swann, who’s as close as we had to a veteran out there in the secondary, has been an absolute basket case. Quincy Mauger hasn’t been much better. Tray Matthews may or may not play. That means our best defensive back is probably Shaq Wiggins, a 5’10” true freshman. Tyler Murphy might not be the Gators’ ideal option at quarterback, but I’m fairly certain even he could have a career game against our defense.
MD: Who does he have to throw to, though? Solomon Patton, Trey Burton and Quinton Dunbar are all so-so, but beyond that the Gators don’t have a single player with double-digit receptions on the season. They’re a team with no sense of offensive identity right now.
DD: An offense with no identity versus a defense with no confidence. Yeah, this should be one for the ages.
MD: Good lord, listen to you. We have a chance to turn this into a three-game winning streak against a program that owned our asses for the better part of two decades, and you’re more miserable than ever.
DD: Can you blame me? We made it as high as fifth in the nation and then had the rug completely pulled out from under us, and now our team is in a certifiable tailspin. Lose this one and we’ll probably be lucky to crawl to six wins this season.
MD: Then I guess it’s a good thing we’re gonna win it. It might be ugly, sure, but our front seven — which has actually been pretty good against the run this year — is gonna neutralize the closest thing to an offensive threat the Gators have. OK, sure, if they have to go to the air they might connect on one or two long balls against our secondary, but there’s still no way they find any consistency, not with the way their O-line is struggling. I think it’ll be close in the first half but we’ll start to pull away in the second as Gurley pounds away and keeps them from devoting all their time and attention to harassing our receivers, and we walk out of Jacksonville with a 27-16 victory and a three-game winning streak in our biggest rivalry.
DD: You know, that does sound nice.
MD: Doesn’t it?
DD: Unfortunately, it also sounds unrealistic. Banged-up though it may be, Florida’s defense is still ranked fifth in the nation in passing yards allowed, and that’s even after facing several passing attacks more threatening than anything we’re able to throw at them at the moment. I see another mediocre performance by Murray, even with Gurley on the field, just because he still doesn’t have any confidence in our receiving corps and we’re still not using our tight ends effectively for some reason. As for the defense, well, it’s a mobile quarterback and our secondary stinks — enough said. At the moment I have no reason to think this won’t end up looking a lot like the Vanderbilt atrocity, only without us ever having the benefit of a two-touchdown lead to lose in the first place. Which means a final score of something like, oh, Gators 24, us 17.
MD: So you really are delivering last rites for the season then, huh. The day before the biggest game of the year.
DD: Hey, I saw the writing on the wall weeks ago. Not my fault it’s only dawned on you now.
MD: Well, that’s where you’re wrong. Nothing has dawned on me. I refuse to let it.
DD: That’s good. They should carve that on your tombstone.
MD: And our predictions average out to a 22-20 Georgia victory — closer than I’d like, but I’ve managed to foil your defeatist pissing and moaning once again.
DD: Well, enjoy it while it lasts, because on Saturday you’re going to witness the Gators foiling your irrational optimism, and then we’ll all be miserable.
MD: I’m not hearing that. Instead, I’m packing for Jacksonville, which is what your ass ought to be doing right now, unless you want me leaving without you.
DD: As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what I want. Why would I spend six hours in a car each way — with you — just so I can witness the most depressing spectacle of the year?
MD: So you’re not even going? You’ve decided?
DD: Nothing gets by you, does it. Yes, that’s what I’ve decided.
MD: I don’t see how you can even call yourself a Georgia fan. I refuse to call you one.
DD: Considering the list of things you have been willing to call me over the years, I’m not sure I’m broken up about that.
MD: Sure, turn it back on me. But you oughta be ashamed of yourself, conceding defeat to our biggest rivals even before the game’s been played. That is a bullshit move if ever I’ve seen one.
DD: Well, maybe it’s because I don’t have the benefit of all the liquid confidence you have. Seriously, are there any clothes in that bag, or are you just packing bottles?
MD: Well, I’m only going down for two nights.
DD: And you’re gonna drink all of that in two nights?!
MD: One, it’s Jacksonville, and it ain’t called the Cocktail Party for nothing. Two, have we met?
DD: Well, what am I supposed to drink when I’m trying to drown my sorrows back here at home?
MD: Sounds like a YP, bro. I’ll see your bitch ass on Sunday. If I even decide to come back.
the manic-depressive preview: georgia vs. vanderbilt
What a coincidence: We’re exactly halfway through college football’s regular season, and our Manic-Depressive Previewers are in midseason form. That, of course, means Manic Doug is throwing back beers at 10 a.m. and stubbornly refusing to concede defeat, or even disadvantage, regardless of the opponent or circumstance — while Depressive Doug has composed an iTunes playlist of the most morose Smiths songs he could possibly dig up, and is listening to it while he despairs over what he perceives as Georgia’s complete lack of anything meaningful left to play for. A two-touchdown home loss to Missouri, sustained by a Georgia team still without its two top rushers and major components of its receiving corps, will do that to a guy. Will Vanderbilt be a get-right opportunity for the wounded Dawgs (and emotionally wounded Depressive Doug), or just another stop on a trail of tears?
Manic Doug: Hey, buddy, we made it!
Depressive Doug: Made it? Made it where?
MD: To the halfway point of the season! And you still haven’t slit your wrists yet!
DD:[heavy, aggrieved sigh] The season’s still young. And everyone else associated with the Georgia football program has sustained some kind of debilitating injury, so I don’t expect I’m going to be immune.
MD: Oh, come on. So the injury bug bit us and we coughed one up to Missouri — a very good Mizzou team, I might add. But the division is wide-open and we’ve still got a shot at the SEC title, so why go declaring “all is fucked” when we’re only halfway through the year?
DD: You know, I might actually be inclined to share your optimism, if I thought the injury bug was the only thing that had burned us against the Tigers. But the real problems were an offensive line that can’t seem to play consistently for more than a couple games at a stretch and a defensive secondary that can’t seem to put together more than a quarter of competent play at a time. Keith Marshall, Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley could magically heal up like Wolverine tomorrow and it wouldn’t solve any of those problems.
MD: Cut the O-line a little slack. They were facing a defensive front with not one but two extremely dangerous speed rushers coming at Aaron Murray on a regular basis. And the defensive backs …
DD: Yeah? The defensive backs?
MD: OK, our pass defense is pretty terrible, there’s only so much sugarcoating you can do with that unit. Fortunately, we’ve got Vanderbilt this weekend, which has neither a particularly fearsome pass rush nor a wide-open passing attack.
DD: You sure about that? Vandy’s apparently been Zaprudering the Missouri game tape and looking for ways to exploit the shortcomings on our offensive line. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, their passing attack might be better than you think it is. Austyn Carta-Samuels has been averaging about 260 yards a game, and he’s got that Jordan Matthews kid to throw to —
MD: Please. I’m not sweating a QB named “Austyn.”
DD: I’m not sure what that has to do with —
MD: And you know what his backup’s name is? Patton Robinette. Tell me those aren’t two of the douchiest, your-ass-oughta-be-playing-lacrossiest names you could possibly have in a single QB corps.
DD: Well, with relevant, high-minded analysis like that, it’s a wonder you haven’t been hired as part of the “College Gameday” crew yet. But be that as it may, the Commodores are having a pretty good season on offense. And after what we saw from our banged-up offense last week, it’s pretty clear we can’t just go into every game expecting to outscore the opponent in a shootout.
MD: What about last week would make you think that? That banged-up, injury-depleted offense still managed to roll up 475 yards on that Mizzou defense you were so impressed with. J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas combined for more than 150 yards, and so far, Vandy’s run defense hasn’t been nearly as stout as Mizzou’s. Plus we may get to add Jonathon Rumph to the receiving corps this week, which would give Aaron Murray another weapon in the passing game.
DD: Even if Rumph does play, I’m not convinced he’s going to be a panacea for our passing attack, unless you think he can come right in for his very first game in a Georgia uniform and blow up like A.J. Green.
MD: He may not be A.J. Green, but he’s had JUCO playing time, so it’s not like he’s never taken the field before.
DD: Either way, there’s a lot more wrong with our offense than one practically brand-new-to-the-roster receiver can fix.
MD: That might matter against a team like Missouri, or Florida. But this is Vanderbilt we’re talking about. They’re 0-3 in the SEC right now, and you ever wonder why that might be? They gave up 489 yards to Ole Miss, 579 to South Carolina, 523 to Mizzou. They’re just not that good when they have to go up against SEC-caliber athletes. And while we may not be going into battle with a fully loaded clip in terms of offensive talent, our backups are still closer to SEC talent than they are to teams like UAB or Austin Peay.
DD: So you think we’re just gonna be able to name our score in Nashville.
MD: No, but we’re gonna have a lot less trouble scoring than you seem to be preparing for. I think the changes on the offensive line will help Murray keep his jersey clean and find open receivers, and the running game will continue to outperform expectations. The defense, well, they may let one or two long passes through, but you’ll notice they didn’t even allow 400 total yards to Mizzou last week, so there’s no reason to think Vandy’s gonna go over that number. I think we’ll take a commanding lead in the third quarter and cruise to a 41-24 win.
DD: Forty-one points, huh?
MD: Easily. We may be banged up, but Vandy’s still Vandy.
DD: Vandy’s also not the doormat it used to be before James Franklin got there, as we learned — and you should’ve learned, though you apparently didn’t — the last time we paid them a visit up in Nashville. Whereas you see an 0-3 team that’s serving itself up as a punching bag for us to get well on, I see a desperate team that’s more talented than their record indicates and that fully intends to take advantage of our weak spots. I think they’ll give us a battle for a full four quarters like they did two years ago, only instead of us rolling out to a big early lead and then nearly losing it, Vandy will be able to hang with us on the scoreboard the entire time because we won’t be able to stop the Carta-Samuels/Matthews passing combo. And I think they’ll burn a long pass by us in the closing minutes and post the final score of the game to win, 34-31.
MD: A loss to Vanderbilt? Are you really that far gone?!
DD: You act like it couldn’t happen! It already has happened under Richt, to a Vandy team that was far less talented than this one!
MD: Yeah, seven years ago, with a Georgia team that probably wasn’t as talented as this one, either. I’ll focus on more recent events, thank you, such as last year’s game, when we beat them by 45 and reminded them what the balance of power in this division’s supposed to look like.
DD: Believe me, I would like nothing better than to pull that off again, but I just don’t see it happening — not with this defense, and not without a fully healthy roster of weapons on offense.
MD: Well, in spite of all that doom and gloom you’re pumping, our predictions average out to a 36-29 Georgia win — which is still ridiculous, considering that it doesn’t even quite cover the spread, but I guess I’ll take it, if only for the fact that it’ll keep you from leaping off a bridge for another week.
DD: Sometimes it seems like you’d rather I jump off a bridge.
MD: Oh my god, dude, that sounds like a line from one of those incredibly depressing Smiths songs you’ve been listening to nonstop the last few days. I was gonna say I hope you can climb out of your own ass long enough to watch the game with me on Saturday, but now I’m thinking I’d just as soon watch it alone.
DD: Suit yourself. Let me know how it goes. I’ll just be over here ruminating on the hopelessness of the human condition.
MD: Oh, well now I totally want to hang out with you.
the manic-depressive preview: missouri vs. georgia
Last week was a wee bit stressful for our previewers, and the game itself was only the beginning — when the game finally ended with an overtime victory for the Dawgs, that merely began the anxious wait for updates on the team’s rapidly worsening injury situation. Actually, only one member of our previewing duo waited anxiously for that stuff; the other one just set off for Tennessee’s campus to troll Vol fans. If you’ve been following these previews for any length of time, you won’t have any trouble figuring out which one is which. Anyway, we managed to corral them back together to discuss this weekend’s game, which brings a resurgent Mizzou squad to Athens to make a statement in the SEC East, and more than 24 hours before kickoff, tempers are flaring once again.
Manic Doug: Wait, are we doing a blackout for the Mizzou game and nobody told me?!
Depressive Doug: No. I’m in mourning.
MD: Oh, no, did somebody die? What happened?
DD: It’s for Keith Marshall. And Justin Scott-Wesley. And, well, I guess Malcolm Mitchell, too …
DD: … and, really, for our season. Those hopes for an SEC title were fun while they lasted.
MD: Well, I’m glad to see nobody’s being overly melodramatic about all this.
DD: You’re one to talk. As usual, I’m just being realistic about our chances.
MD: There’s nothing realistic about declaring our title chances dead in the water when the season ain’t even half over yet!
DD: Are — are you kidding me? We watched the same game, right? We watched the same guys, who constitute half our offensive skill players, get knocked out with injuries, didn’t we?
MD: Yeah, and we watched the same banged-up, hobbled team pile up 400-something yards and 34 points in hostile territory, in a situation you insisted was a prime letdown opportunity.
DD: Oh, gee, a week after beating No. 6 LSU we played a mediocre Tennessee team and got taken to overtime. Whatever would’ve given me that idea?
MD: The point is that even in that situation, and even with all the guys who got hurt, we still won because guys stepped up. Gurley and Marshall are both hurt? J.J. Green went off for a buck twenty-nine, averaged 7.6 yards a carry. Mitchell and Scott-Wesley were hurt? Conley and Wooten stepped up, and Reggie Davis is back there too, waiting for a chance. Hell, even after Collin Barber got knocked out of the game with a concussion, we brought in Adam Erickson and he booted a punt 44 yards for a touchback. Is it possible that maybe, just maybe, we’re deep enough to keep winning despite all the injuries?
DD: Look, I won’t deny being impressed at the way our supporting cast members stepped up and answered the call on Saturday. But you’ll recall that even after all that, we still only managed to eke out a three-point win, in OT, over a Tennessee team that was nobody’s idea of an elite squad coming into the game. What’s gonna happen when we face a ranked Mizzou team that’s undefeated, confident and looking for payback after we humbled them in their very first SEC game last season?
MD: We outscore them just like we have every other SEC opponent we’ve faced this year.
DD: Easier said than done. Unlike last year, the Tigers are healthy. Also unlike last year, we don’t have a defense that’s capable of stopping them. They’re averaging 47 points and nearly 550 yards per game, both among the top 10 in the nation.
MD: Look who they’ve played, though. Who’s their best opponent? Indiana? Vanderbilt?
DD: Neither of whom are the doormats they used to be, may I point out. And right now I don’t think you can say with any confidence our defense is better than those teams’. We haven’t held a single major-conference opponent below 30 points all season long.
MD: We’ve also played maybe the toughest schedule in the country up to this point.
DD: Well, good for us, ‘cause it’s not getting any easier this week.
MD: What I’m saying, though, is that we’re battle-tested. Aaron Murray has been ridiculously clutch all season long, but especially in the fourth quarter, if it comes to that. The defense has had a rough go of things so far, but the front seven has shown improvement, and they’ve made the stops they’ve needed to make in crunch time.
DD: I can only get so enthusiastic about that when we gave up three fourth-down conversions in the fourth quarter in Knoxville, and needed one of the most fortuitous end-zone fumbles of all time to put us in position to win. That’s not the kind of mistake we can count on Missouri to make.
MD: Maybe not, but it’s not like they don’t have their own weaknesses. Late in the third quarter against Toledo, they were only leading by a point. They gave up 475 yards, including nearly 400 passing, to Indiana. They gave up another 468 yards to a Vanderbilt offense that’s never been what you’d call formidable even in the best of times …
DD: The vast majority of which was gained in garbage time after they’d piled up a 30-7 lead on the Commodores, on their opponent’s field, no less.
MD: I think even you would have to admit that the environment at Sanford Stadium’s gonna be just a wee bit different from what they faced in Nashville. You might even admit that our offense, even with some of our top weapons taken away, is probably the best one Mizzou will have faced all season long.
DD: Maybe. But we’ve survived on quite a bit of luck this season —
MD: Other than that Tennessee fumble in overtime, what is this luck you speak of?! We’ve made our own luck! Stopping South Carolina on 4th-and-1? The go-ahead touchdown drive late in the game against LSU? The tying touchdown drive against Tennessee? I don’t think you’re giving our guys enough credit.
DD: So you think that even with all those players hurt. we’ve still got enough juice to beat the Tigers.
MD: More than enough, in fact. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’ll put up some yards on us, and some points. But we’ve survived shootouts against better teams than Mizzou this season. Like I said, I’m still not buying their defense, not with four of last year’s starters gone in the back seven and probably their best player on defense period, Sheldon Richardson, now playing in the NFL. I think we’ll match them score for score for most of the game, then break serve by grinding out a long touchdown drive with J.J. Green and Quayvon Hicks in the fourth quarter. When the smoke clears, we’ve won another one, 41-34.
DD: So you’re saying our defense is gonna hold an offense like Mizzou’s to only a few more points than we gave up to Tennessee? I wish I could be that optimistic. But we’re asking our front seven to corral a mobile QB and a multi-faceted rushing attack, while we’re telling our very vulnerable secondary to go out and cover receivers like Dorial Green-Beckham and L’Damian Washington. I think this is where it finally all goes wrong, Mizzou jumps on us early, and we make a valiant attempt at a comeback in the second half but without our stars on offense we just don’t quite have enough juice to get there. Instead it’s Mizzou with the game-icing drive that we just can’t stop, and they win, 42-31.
MD: And our predictions average out to … a 38-36 Missouri win? Bullshit.
DD: Before you even ask, no, you can’t go back and change your prediction.
MD: Fine. Go back to mourning the team, then. They’ve already proven they can do just fine without your support.
DD: And I hope they continue to. I’m just not expecting it.
MD: Then I hope you’re expecting me to harass you incessantly when we win, because that’s what I’m planning to do.
DD: I already expect that treatment from you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Win or lose, why would Saturday be any different?
the manic-depressive preview: georgia vs. tennessee
The Manic-Depressive Preview had about as glorious a weekend as it was possible to have last week — the weather, the venue and the thrilling game combined to create an experience so amazing even Depressive Doug couldn’t force himself to have a bad time. But can he hold on to that good mood for longer than, oh, 24 hours or so? There’s nothing in his past to suggest this is a possibility, nor is there much of anything about Knoxville — this weekend’s football destination — to inspire positive emotions in either member of our previewing team. Let’s see if they can suppress their gag reflexes long enough to have a rational discussion.
Manic Doug: OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD.
Depressive Doug: I know.
MD: We just beat the No. 6 team in the country. Just three weeks after having beaten the previous No. 6 team in the country.
DD: I know. I gotta say, I wasn’t sure we had it in us.
MD: How amazing was that game?
DD: Pretty amazing. Took four or five years off my life, but they’re years I’ll happily give up for a win like that.
MD: You know what this means, right?
DD: Enlighten me.
MD: It means we’re really good.
DD: Well, that’s one —
MD: I mean we’re really good. Aaron Murray is having a dream season. After having played three top-10 teams, we’re still averaging more than 500 yards of total offense per game.
DD: That’s all true, and it’s quite an accomplishment, but —
MD: And the best part is, the hardest part of our schedule’s over! The next month is gonna be a — [pause] Wait. I’ve seen that look before. That’s the look you get when you know you should be happy about something, but you’re not. Are you really going to sit there and refuse to be excited about how good we are?
DD: Man, I tried. I really tried. But once we got home from Athens and the afterglow started to wear off a little, and I started thinking back to Oct. 9, 2004.
MD: OK, man, I can barely remember stuff that happened a week ago, much less nine years ago. You’re gonna have to help me out.
DD: We’d just knocked off Nick Saban’s LSU team, the defending BCS champions, in Athens. Not just knocked them off but destroyed them by four touchdowns. We’d risen to No. 3 in the country. Everything looked beautiful. And then a Tennessee team coming off a 24-point pounding by Auburn came into Athens and humiliated us.
MD: OK, what’s that sob story got to do with this year, though?
DD: Do I need to repeat myself? Big win over LSU? Hangover? Loss to Tennessee?
MD: Come on, man, you can’t honestly think that has any bearing on what’s gonna happen this weekend. That was a different Georgia team, and we’re talking about a different Tennessee team, too — one that had to hang on in the final minutes to get by South Alabama at home, and that looked like salted-caramel ass against a pretty mediocre Florida team the week before that.
DD: Doesn’t matter. You’ve been following the Dawgs as long as I have, so you know just as well as I do that they’re capable of completely laying a turd on the field the week after a big, emotional win.
MD: Dude, but against this Tennessee team, though? The ‘04 Vols weren’t great, but they were still ranked No. 17 at the time they played us, and they ended up winning the SEC East. This year’s team is 92nd in the country in total offense, 112th in passing offense. Two weeks ago they started — started! — a QB who finished with a rating of 3.8 for that game. This matchup is perfect for us: We’re still struggling a little in the secondary, but their QBs can barely hit the broad side of a barn. They can run the ball some, but our front seven is rounding pretty nicely into form — we held LSU to just 77 net rushing yards last week. Give me one good reason why the Vols will even break double-digits on the scoreboard this Saturday.
DD: Here’s a reason: What you call “struggling a little” in secondary I call the 99th-ranked pass defense in the country. Ninety-ninth! One spot behind New Mexico State and twenty-four behind Tulane! We let LSU convert a 3rd-and-22 like it was nothing! You really mean to tell me Tennessee couldn’t light us up?
MD: Yes. I mean to tell you exactly that. Zach Mettenberger, who’s actually turned into kind of an assassin, converted that 3rd-and-22. Justin Worley isn’t gonna be doing anything remotely like that. And even if he does, Tennessee’s own pass defense is giving up nearly as many yards per game as we are, which means Murray’s going to shell them all afternoon long.
DD: I’d love to be that confident. But remember how last week I was telling you about that one game every season where we just completely shit the bed, on both sides of the ball, in every phase of the game? Where the opponent is beatable yet literally nothing goes right until it’s much, much too late?
MD: Yeah, and if memory serves, you said there was a good chance LSU was gonna be that opponent. Which they weren’t.
DD: No, but there’s an even better chance Tennessee’s gonna be that opponent, because we’re just coming off a huge, emotional victory. And because they’ve been that opponent twice in the last three times we’ve been up to Knoxville. Hell, even in 2011 we didn’t play that well — that was a godawful Vols team and we should’ve beaten them by a lot more than eight measly points.
MD: So wait, are you going on record as saying we’re gonna have one of those complete collapses in Neyland on Saturday?
DD: Yeah. Yeah, I am. I hate to say it, but the circumstances just set up perfectly for it.
MD: Follow-up question: Are we gonna collapse completely enough to lose?
DD: You know what? … I hate to say this too, but yes. Yes, we are going to lose. If the pass defense can’t even get their signals straight in their own home stadium, they’re gonna be a wreck in a place as loud as Neyland, and Worley’s gonna have his best day of the year. On the other side of the ball, our offensive line has been taking every other game off — you’ll notice we looked great against South Carolina and LSU, lousy against Clemson and North Texas — and if they’re not even gonna have Todd Gurley to block for, which I suspect they won’t, I can see that throwing a real monkeywrench into our offense. Georgia may hold a slim lead for most of the game, but I see Worley leading the Vols on a last-minute touchdown drive that wins the game for them, 27-23.
MD: Oh, for crying out loud, dude. It’s one thing for you to say we’re gonna look crappy and get played closer than we should against a bad opponent — yeah, we have those sleepwalk games all the time. But even then it means we only beat ‘em by 20 instead of by 40. That’s worst-case here. What I think is more likely to happen is that we beat the Vols 38-17 on Saturday.
DD: OK, why?
MD: Whaddaya mean "why"? Because they’re terrible! Because we’ve knocked off two top-10 teams and they barely squeaked past South Alabama! If you honestly need any more reason than that, I don’t know that you can honestly call yourself a Bulldog fan.
DD: Hey, no need to impugn anyone’s fandom here. Besides, our predictions average out to a 31-22 win, so on aggregate we’re still relatively optimistic, for some reason.
MD: Pffft. Nine points? Not nearly optimistic enough. That doesn’t even cover the spread.
DD: Maybe instead of complaining about irrelevancies, you should get packed for Knoxville.
MD: Maybe instead of nagging me, you should … stop … with your negative … wordsy-ness.
DD: Sorry, was that in English? You need a minute?
MD: Fuck you, man. When we win, I’m gonna get even drunker than usual, and I’m gonna be super annoying. All night long. You’re gonna wish you weren’t within a hundred miles of me.
Two jobs ago, I had the best health insurance I’ve ever had, or probably ever will have. It helped that I worked at UAB, which meant there was a world-class academic health center literally right down the street from my office, but regardless, I could walk into UAB Hospital and have just about any procedure performed for next to nothing.
And this came in handy a lot more than I would’ve liked. Around 2007, I started growing cysts on the CD instrumentation that had been installed to treat my moderate-to-severe scoliosis when I was 16; as doctors discovered years later, the cysts would begin growing on the surface of the apparatus itself, then gradually make their way to the surface until they ruptured, at which point I’d have a nice little open wound on my spine. Five times from 2007 to 2009, I went in for surgery and one of the plastic surgeons cut out the cyst material, cleaned up the wound and sewed it up, but the cysts kept coming back. It wasn’t until the sixth surgery that the doctors were able to deduce it was probably the CD instrumentation itself that was providing the cysts a place to start growing.
Unfortunately, by then I’d been laid off as a result of Great Recession-induced budget cuts, and there went that wonderful health insurance. I did manage to sneak in one last surgery under the wire, though, literally days before my insurance was due to officially run out. An orthopedic surgeon went in and removed a piece of the CD instrumentation that looked like it might be loose and carving out a little spot in my back for the cysts to grow; thinking I’d finally put this behind me once and for all, I moved back in with my parents and started looking for work.
In the interim, of course, my wonderful health insurance expired and I was left completely uncovered. COBRA was available, but too expensive for someone who was surviving on unemployment checks and effectively zero savings. Stupidly, I let my pride prevent me from going to my parents for help, thinking they were already doing more than enough by letting their 31-year-old son move back in rent-free.
The following spring, I still had no job and no health insurance — and I felt a lump growing on my back.
The cyst had indeed grown back. The doctors in Columbus later determined that the proper course of action was to just remove the CD apparatus entirely, since my bones had grown as much as they were going to and I didn’t need it anymore. Unfortunately, I had no major-medical coverage with which to make this happen. And even when I did finally get a job at Aflac in June 2010 with pretty good benefits, my 10-month lapse in coverage meant my back cysts were a pre-existing condition and I’d have to wait another 12 months to actually get treated.
All told, I’d say I spent about a year and a half walking around with an open wound directly over my spine. Holly, God bless her, had the privilege of placing literally hundreds of Band-Aid Large Adhesive Pads over said wound, though — particularly for someone who’s never been particularly flexible — I got pretty good at reaching around and putting them on there myself when I needed to. I didn’t just need the Band-Aids to keep the pink goo in my wound from seeping out and staining my clothes; there was a small, though very real, chance that if the wound got infected it could work its way down to my spinal cord and do some truly catastrophic damage.
Had Obamacare been in effect during all this time, almost all of these worries would’ve been taken care of. Thanks to the provision preventing insurance companies from disallowing or instituting waiting periods for pre-existing conditions, I could’ve walked into a hospital and had that surgery within weeks of starting my job at Aflac; instead of having that open wound on my spine for 18 months, I probably would’ve only had it for three, tops. And if I’d been 26 or younger, my medical coverage never would’ve lapsed to begin with because I could’ve just had it all taken care of on my parents’ insurance.
This is what the Republicans in Washington are fighting against. This is what they’re calling a threat to the future of our republic. They’re willing to bring the legislative process to a grinding halt and shut down the federal government entirely just to make it known that they don’t want the poor, the unemployed, the just plain down-on-their-luck to have health care.
Obamacare didn’t arrive soon enough to keep me from walking around for a year and a half with a hole in my back. But maybe it’s arrived in time to keep someone else from having to go through that. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to let that poor person get knocked back to where I was in the spring of 2010 just so Ted Cruz can score brownie points with the Tea Party. Go ahead and shut the government down, Ted — that sure worked like gangbusters for y’all the first time. But we are not going back.