This past weekend, I made the trip to Atlanta for the Georgia vs. Georgia Tech game (and to spend Thanksgiving with the girlfriend's family, of course.) Since it was a pretty big Southern rivalry game and played at night, I figured I'd share my experience. This might prove to be a little lengthy, but I merely am reporting on things I observed and thought noteworthy enough to share. I'll break my observations into three segments: Pregame, During the Game, and Post Game.Pregame - Tailgating
With the game scheduled for an 8pm kick off, we naturally began tailgating at 12:30pm at a Fraternity House near the stadium. Tailgate food was pretty standard, with additional foods such as Brunswick Stew and a Chick-Fil-A platter. Delicious.) Needless to say, with about 7 hours of tailgating, there were plenty of beverages consumed and shenanigans to be had.
The attire was different. Pledges wore shirts and ties, some had pants that matched the color of their team (e.g. Tech students had yellow slacks, while some Georgia students had red slacks...yikes!)
I already was aware that the girls wore sun dresses to games; but, when it gets cooler they wear jackets matching the color of their schools. This may be more accurate for those in the Greek system at Georgia Tech, but I saw many folks with outfits that match school colors, but don't explicitly say the school's name. I did see people with jerseys, shirts etc., but not among the Frat/Sorority crowds.
Speaking of attire...
I of course had to be "that guy" with my Michigan hat on. The top two questions people asked me were:
1. "What do you think of Rich Rodriguez?"
2. "You think y'all are going to fire him?"
My response probably came off a bit defensive in nature, but I responded that I am a supporter/buyer of what Rodriguez brings to Michigan and that I think the general public won't expect as much from Michigan, which will play in his favor nicely when he wins 8 or 9 games next season. (Homer? Maybe...) I also ran into a someone who yelled out a 'Go Blue!' Found out he was born in Grand Rapids but moved to the South, which confirmed, you can't go anywhere without running into at least one Michigan fan.
Similar to the Victors' Walk, Georgia Tech has a Players' Walk down Yellow Jacket Alley
. The band, cheer leaders and Ramblin' Wreck and fans all participate. One interesting note here is that they allow the Recruits to join in on the walk. I'm not sure if we do this currently, but I noticed it specifically this weekend. I bet the recruits loved it. If you click the above link, you'll see what it was like for Saturday's game. You'll also notice how much closer everyone gets to the players, coaches, etc. than we do at Michigan.During the Game:
The night atmosphere was pretty awesome. The sky was clear and the Atlanta skyline looked gorgeous. I was sitting in the Georgia section with my girlfriend, a GaTech alumnus. If I had to compare Georgia fans to MSU or OSU fans, I'd say our Big Ten rivals are worse, but when Georgia fans bark at you as part of their chant, I'll admit there are few chants that are more annoying.
I spent the first half in the Georgia section and the second half in the GaTech section. In the UGA section, we were above the GaTech band; due to acoustics I couldn't hear the Tech band. We heard Georgia's band pretty well from across the stadium.
The neatest thing to note, is the fact that Georgia Tech had a rap song (I think by Soulja Boy called "All the way turned up" as an official theme for their hype videos that were playing on the big screen. Not only was the song piped in throughout the game, the band also learned to play it too!
Here's a version of the hype video
While this song is pretty atrocious, it pumped the student and alumni crowds, and it also prompted the crowd to get loud on key defensive plays. Supposedly, some of the hype videos played before key plays/downs were created by players on the team. To me, that shows that the players and students totally bought into the team and its direction. It also shows that the athletic program affords its players the freedom to be creative and have real ownership of the direction of the team. (Note: Again, the song is bad, but I like the idea of involving the players to help engage the crowd on the big screen.)
Another cool thing to see was in between the third and fourth quarter, the GT band plays the Budweiser song
. The video doesn't really do it justice. It's a fun thing to see in between the 3rd and 4th quarters.
The game was an exciting game that unfortunately slipped through GaTechs hands
, literally. The crowd was in it the entire game. I stood the entire game, shouting and yelling, and not once was I told to sit down. That felt nice. The loss however, sucked as much as if I had gone to Tech.
Once Demariyus Thomas dropped a pass on fourth down, the entire stadium fell to silence, save the scattered sections of barking Georgia fans. The interesting thing though, was that Georgia Tech fans were more upset that both Clemson and GaTech lost to "bottom" SEC schools than anything else. They really have conference pride. Perhaps it's a geographical thing for ACC fans?
At any rate, I strongly recommend a game at Georgia Tech, or any other school in the country for that matter. If you go to a game somewhere else, I'd love to read your observations on the game day feel. I'm planning on attending the Rutgers-West Virginia game; I may tone down the Michigan attire so as to avoid confrontation.