The University of Georgia’s football season opened with some groans and profanities. It ended Monday in much the same way.
“Damn,” offered Johnny Williams, of Forsyth, as Georgia’s field goal attempt was blocked in the third overtime.
Williams had hoped Georgia -- which had won 10 games in a row until a loss in the SEC Championship game -- would have at least made it to the Sugar Bowl. Instead, the team made it to the more obscure Outback Bowl, won every point in the first half, and then staggered against a determined Michigan State.
And while Georgia’s game opened with fans filling the tables in the bar area at Jocks & Jills in Macon, few fans remained to see the most critical parts of the struggle.
Tom Terrill, an agronomist at Fort Valley State University, left before he could face double defeat. He received his undergraduate degree at Penn State and his graduate degree at University of Georgia, where he also met his wife. The Terrill family came clad in Georgia outfits underneath Penn State apparel, but the fan enthusiasm wasn’t enough for either team.
“My wife is like me -- she pulls for Penn State but her heart is with Georgia, and I’m just the opposite,” said Terrill.
Allegiances with Georgia can divide friendships as well as families. Cody Gibbs, 21, is a Georgia junior who’s best friends with Todd Younts, 27, a die-hard South Carolina Gamecocks fan who lives in Perry.
Gibbs, a poultry science major, was a bit ambivalent about Georgia’s record this year.
“I can’t say it’s the best season, but I’ll take it,” he said before halftime. “I’m really happy with them winning 10 straight.”
And Gibbs has a good feeling about next year’s Georgia team, though he expects the SEC conference championship game could strain but not break the friendship.
“I think it will be between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Carolina Gamecocks,” Gibbs predicted. “As long as the Braves win, we’ll be friends.”
At Williams’ table, spirits were initially high, then troubled as doubt set in. Georgia dominated the first half, but Michigan State surged in the second half and won many yards off interceptions.
It was a tough spectacle for Williams, 44, who has been sharing tables at Jocks & Jills every Saturday for about four years with his friend Kevin Smith of Gray.
The two schedule their work at The Medical Center of Central Georgia to make sure they can take in all the Saturday games together.
On Monday, Williams came with his son Jay, whose first baby clothes were adorned with University of Georgia logos. The two were rendered largely speechless by the defeat in third overtime.
But their friend Smith has a tougher road ahead. He doesn’t watch baseball, or basketball, or soccer or hockey.
“After football, I go into a depression (for) about six months,” he quipped.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.