Tuesday, October 30, 2007

General Thoughts on the Celebration

A genius ploy by the Georgia head coach. Did it win the game? No. Did it get the team into the right frame of mind to do so? An emphatic yes. It certainly helped bring about the team-wide focus that turned the dropped passes of yesteryears into touchdowns and third-down conversions (10 out of 13!).

The celebration was uniquely amazing because it was so unexpected coming from Richt. I mean, the last time we'd seen him, he was manhandling his players because of inappropriate celebration. My main complaint about Richt as of late had been his predictability, so this was a welcome aberration, but not the reason the Dawgs won. This win cannot be boiled down to a single coaching gambit. Such an oversimplification sorely disregards the spectacular synergy of so many individual players and coaches performing as a singleminded unit. Huge credit to Bobo and Martinez whose artfully crafted plans were executed to near perfection. The persistence in winning the battles in the trenches on both sides of the ball provided heroic highlights for, among others, MoMass, Howard, Curran, Stafford, Mikey, and particularly Knowshon. This is why I was still excited after South Carolina. We've got a real chance at the Sugar Bowl, either through the front door if Tennessee slips up in one of three remaining SEC games, or perhaps even through the back door if Tennessee doesn't slip until Atlanta and LSU goes to the National Championship Game. Now that we're awake, let's stay that way. Rip through the Trojans!

More on the celebration after the fold...

What I find oddly fitting is the nationwide media's overreaction to our team's overreaction to a score with 51 minutes left to play. Maybe it was worth it for the national attention. Even Spurrier commented on it after losing to Tennessee, saying he would have sent his scrubs out to start a fight so the entire Georgia team would get suspended (you'll need to select "Spurrier's 10/30 News Conference" on this link, which may not last; comments start at 22:05 of the 23:42 video).

Some advocate changing the rules to make what UGA did a bigger penalty. I'd agree the rules should be changed, but not to increase the punishment for rushing the field. Instead they should loosen the noose on the players who were on the field to begin with. Sure, there is elegance and manliness in the Bear Bryant/Barry Sanders' dad philosophy of "act like you been there before," but should it be mandated? What if, like the Dawgs in Jacksonville up until Saturday, you really haven't been there, at least not emotionally? I agree that excessive taunting should be outlawed, and the cleared bench should be penalized, but kids should be allowed to have fun and express their exuberance at their on-field achievement. Chad Johnson has become a cartoon, but Ickey Woods and Jamal Anderson's touchdown celebrations helped galvanize and propel their teams all the way to the Superbowl.

I like to think that Richt commanded his players to draw the flag, not only to fire his team up, but also as an act of civil disobedience against referees' overzealous application of the celebration rules. Maybe Richt was joining the movement started by the University of Hawaii's team decision to continue to perform the haka, a traditional Maori pre-battle ritual, despite the WAC's insistence on penalizing them. I mentioned this to an expatriate buddy in the UK who was on his way to Wales to watch New Zealand's "All Blacks" rugby team, who (perhaps more appropriately) also performs the haka pre-game. He mentioned Hawaii's situation to a Kiwi co-worker of his, who responded, "They ought to get a penalty for wearing pads, bunch of poofs."

I, for one, believe that the helmet and pads actually increase the ferocity of hits in the American game, with the added bonus of preserving the delicately chiseled corners of Tom Brady's face. I don't, however, see any point in the poofery of celebration rules aimed to protect the feelings of the opposing team.