Normally, I include something about the crowd in my “Observations” post if there’s something worth noting, but I thought what went on Saturday merited its own post.
Yeah, the weather sucked. But despite that, the place was full up at kickoff and the crowd was into it early on. Alabama’s second quarter onslaught took a lot of the wind out of our sails, but things perked up after Georgia’s defense got a three-and-out on the first series of the second half.
And then Ramsey’s pick-six happened.
There was some booing, but if I’m the coaches and the players, that’s not the reaction that would bother me. This is:
I’ve been going to sporting events, and writing about sporting events, and thinking about sporting events, for almost 40 years now, and Saturday, midway through the third quarter of Georgia’s nightmarish 38-10 home loss to Alabama, I was a part of something I’ve never experienced before. After Crimson Tide quarterback Jake Coker ran it in from two yards out to give Alabama a 38-3 lead with 10:05 left in the third quarter, at least 50,000 people — more than half Sanford Stadium’s capacity — stood up and left. Together. At once. I had seen people leave games early. I had seen crowds of people leave games early. But I have never once seen roughly the population of Hot Springs, Ark., or Williamsport, Pa., all rise up, as if directed by some invisible collective remote control, heads folded downward, and silently head for the exits. Everyone decided, right as Coker crossed the goal line, that they could not watch this anymore. No one had to say a word. We all just walked out right then, like someone had just set a sacred religious amulet aflame at midfield and we just couldn’t bear to look at it anymore. I suppose that’s exactly what happened.
It was a stampede of dejection.
I’ve said it before. Anger is one thing. At least it means people give a damn. A comfortable apathy, though, can be deadly. There’s only so many times a fan base can listen to its head coach call for it to show up at a big game and be a contributing factor only to find out that the team hasn’t followed suit before tuning out. It’s both a credit to Richt and to our devotion to the program that we’ve managed to be in as much as we have.
Maybe our passion is more bottomless than I suspect. But I wonder how many more times Georgia can shit the bed before we get tired of providing first-class maid service.