Blogs & Opinion


Most Popular Posts:

Alex Ferguson touches down for the SEC Championship Game between Alabama and Georgia

Blogs Posted 4th December 2012 view comments

At the SEC Championship Game, Alabama played Georgia for a spot in college football's BCS National Championship Game.

And - like Alabama's trip to LSU in November - it came down to the final drive, with Alabama breaking Georgian hearts and in turn claiming their spot in the National Championship Game.

Alex Ferguson was there - and here's part one of his long Atlanta weekend diary...


Striking up conversations with people at Heathrow Airport is generally pretty easy. You go with the questions: "Where are you off to?" and "How long are you there for?" and generally people will talk. After all, they've got very little to do before their flight. And if you target Americans wearing College Football garb, you can kill time talking about their [our] favourite subject. I'm good at that.

Calvin Johnson: played college football for Georgia Tech

Calvin Johnson: played college football for Georgia Tech

Anyway, eight hours and a comfortable flight later, I'm enjoying the first beer of my trip with my host and former UGA grad Michael Ruppersberg at a bar called The Church. I immediately get chatting to John and Anna, a couple from Louisiana. College football immediately becomes the conversation, and we're told by LSU grad Anna that nothing beats a night game in Death Valley. We agree wholeheartedly. All three of us are then serenaded by a half-blind homeless lady, who sings three indescribably bad songs before she leaves, with none of our money in her pocket. "Welcome to Atlanta," I say to myself, half-joking.

I've seen UGA play four games, and I've seen them lose in QPR-style circumstances (see: heartbreaking) in three of them.

Alex Ferguson
Quotes of the week

After that, we eat our weight in brisket and discuss the possibility of Georgia winning this one against the Crimson Tide. 'Rupp' (you can call him that) is resigned to Georgia losing the game, and he thinks Vegas giving seven points to Georgia is 'about right'. Although I add that the scoreline could get out of control.


'I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech and a hell of an engineer' - Georgia Tech fight song

Atlanta as a city has a pretty skyline, but as a shopping and an eating district downtown, it's no New York or London, either. It's just office building after office building, and there's no feeling of soul. No-one seems to want to be there, and no-one's hanging out for coffee or food. It's like everyone's here to co-exist, rather than have fun.

It's weird to say this on a day that Atlanta as a city is meant to be rising up and coming together (as you're told at the local underground station), because the Falcons are playing their hated rivals, the New Orleans Saints tonight. There's the odd fan dotted around, but it's hardly got the pre-game buzz. Hungry, I hit up a Taco Mac, which has enough beers on offer to give a serious dent to wallet, liver and brain, and the 'crowd' is small. Two brothers have flown in from NOLA for the game and are unimpressed by Atlanta (but then again Saints fans and Falcons fans hate everything about each other's cities and teams), and there's a couple of Saints ladies who've come for a long weekend. "It's going to be a long one", says one of them, drinking a beer.

I end up cosying up to John and Stacy Whiteman, who are Georgia Tech grads. Because of their dislike of Georgia, "We're Alabama fans on Saturday. Roll Tide!" We end up behaving like college students (drinking beer, exchanging unprintable jokes, and telling silly stories from the bygone years) for the next couple of hours. Then, John offers me a tour of Tech's campus. "Have you ever been to Georgia Tech's campus?", he asks. "No," I admit. After all, Atlanta's a city that we haven't spent a lot of time in, and believe it or not, being a 30-something man walking around Georgia Tech's campus on his own is not exactly top of our list.

My new hosts drive me around the campus, and we have to be honest: it's very pretty. It's like any other campus in America: there are frat boys playing football out the front of the frat houses, pretty little sorority girls talking outside their magnificent houses and others scurrying around to class. The school bus tells us that Tech WILL beat the Seminoles in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday, even though they are 14-point underdogs and pretty terrible.

But college football is pretty important at Georgia Tech, and as we pass by the Bobby Dodd Stadium (he coached Tech to a National Championships in 1951) and pass by the team's practice facility where players are practising for the game you realise that this is still a place of big-time football. After all, Calvin Johnson went to school here. So did 19 other current NFL-ers. "We just hope Tech doesn't embarrass itself", says Stacy, pointing out the fact that she thinks Saturday night in Charlotte is going to be "carnage", with the Yellow Jackets on the end of a stinging beating by an angry Florida State team.

After saying goodbye to the Whitemans, we meet up with some more of our Georgia friends, Wick Cauthorn and Caroline Watson in a central Atlanta bar. Cauthorn and Watson are a 'mixed marriage' of sorts - Cauthorn's a dyed-in-the-wool Georgia fan and Watson is a dyed-in-the-wool South Carolina fan. "I started reading the magazines after the first quarter", he tells me when I ask him if there were any fireworks in the Cauthorn household when South Carolina hammered Georgia earlier in the season.

In between beers, cigarettes and shouting at the Falcons, we talk about UGA. Cauthorn doesn't think that UGA will lose the game heavily, but that if they lose, it'll be by the usual heartbreaking fashion. Just to add to the background: I've seen UGA play four games, and I've seen them lose in QPR-style circumstances (see: heartbreaking) in three of them.

Cauthorn's plan is to go to his father's in nearby Marietta, drink beer, and watch the game on a projector screen while having a barbecue. If QPR fans offered this to me week in, week out, I'd probably not go to games at Loftus Road, I think, and then say to myself: "It's only because we haven't won a game yet".

We leave the Drew Brees interception-fest at half-time, because not only is it not a great game, but my hosts have got work to do in the morning. Atlanta won the game 23-13, by the way.

The second part of Alex's Atlanta diary will appear on soon...

back to top

Other Blogs:

Latest Posts in :

Alex Ferguson

Clowney's no joke

US sports expert Alex Ferguson profiles Jadeveon Clowney, the biggest defensive pick of the draft....

Alex Ferguson

King James reigns

Alex Ferguson celebrates a wacky, smile-inducing year in US sport - and salutes Miami's LeBron James....


Alex Ferguson

Start your engines!

Alex Ferguson predicts who will triumph in NASCAR's showpiece race, the Daytona 500....


Alex Ferguson

A perfect union?

Alex Ferguson looks at the possible unionisation of college football and how he would handle the issue....

Alex Ferguson

Call of the century

Spacemen Portland pick Bowie over Jordan - Alex Ferguson ranks the biggest decisions in US Sport....


Alex Ferguson

Independence aces

Alex Ferguson kicks off his Independence Day fun by picking his 20 best bits of American sport....


Guillem Balague

Making it for Messi

Barca and Real feature but Spain's best side isn't in the Copa del Rey final, says Guillem Balague....

Ed Chamberlin

Van the man?

Ed Chamberlin explains why Tejay van Garderen is capable of plucking the Tour de France's Yellow Jersey....


Paul Merson

Still in the frame

Paul Merson says Everton's top-four bid and Man City's title hopes won't be derailed on Wednesday....

Stuart Barnes

Ups and downs

Stuart Barnes says the drama of relegation must be kept in rugby, but the play-offs need changing....

Stuart Barnes

Rising to the top

Stuart Barnes says Toulon look like the team to beat after a mixed Heineken Cup play-off weekend....

Phil Clarke

To Hull and back

Phil Clarke looks at the mental damage done to Hull FC and Huddersfield in the Challenge Cup....

Luke Dorn

Tackling the issue

Luke Dorn on the dangers involved in tackling and praises two legends of Super League....

Phil Clarke

Hero of our game

Phil Clarke pays tribute to Ray Unsworth, who helped change the face of rugby league in the UK....

Rob Lee

Pinky and perky

Rob Lee blogs on his vivid Masters Breakfast attire and the men that made waves at Augusta National....

Paul McGinley

Joy for Jonas?

Jonas Blixt has the short game and heart to win the Masters at Augusta, says Paul McGinley....


Barry Cowan

Heavy burden

Great Britain's best Davis Cup since 1986 fails to mask their reliance on Andy Murray, says Barry Cowan....

Barry Cowan

No force without Fab

Britain's Davis Cup quarter-final with Italy rests on the fitness of Fabio Fognini, says Barry Cowan...

Alex Hammond

Going the distance

Marathon entrant Alex Hammond previews the Newbury action and Scottish National meeting at Ayr....

Alex Hammond

Rocky's road

Alex Hammond explains why she is backing Rocky Creek and Lion Na Bearnai at the Grand National....

Andrew Balding

Resting up

Trainer Andrew Balding says On Demand is progressing well - but now needs time to recuperate....

Johnny Nelson

The best of friends

It will be tough but Johnny Nelson expects mates Anthony Crolla and John Murray to serve up a classic....

Glenn McCrory

Manny happy returns

Manny Pacquiao is back to his best and could yet get it on with Floyd Mayweather, says Glenn McCrory....

Johnny Nelson

Delighted for DeGale

James DeGale's Matchroom switch is the perfect move to get him back in the mix, says Johnny Nelson....

View from America

Desperate deals?

Simon Veness reviews a crazy week in the NFL's free agent frenzy, as sides splash out over $1bn....


Neal Foulds

Night at the Circus

Neal Foulds is looking forward to another fun, raucous Snooker Shoot-Out - but can't pick a winner....


Neal Foulds

Simply the best?

Five-time Masters champion Ronnie O'Sullivan may be the best snooker player ever, says Neal Foulds....


Neal Foulds

Four to the fore

Neil Robertson and snooker's other leading lights are pulling clear of the pack, says Neal Foulds....


Kelvin Tatum

The contenders

Kelvin Tatum runs through the teams and riders ahead of the 2014 Elite League Speedway season....

Kelvin Tatum

Kelvin's 2013 Review

Kelvin Tatum salutes Poole's hierarchy and Tai Woffinden in his round-up of the speedway season....


Kelvin Tatum

Rich re-Ward

Poole, and the dynamic Darcy Ward, will wrap up the Elite League title at Perry Barr, says Kelvin Tatum....


Richard Moore

The final curtain

Richard Moore reflects on Sunday's Closing Ceremony to an unforgettable Olympic Games......


Richard Moore

A lasting golden glow

Richard Moore suggests all the British Olympians should visit schools and talk about their experiences....


Richard Moore

Favourite Froome

Richard Moore reveals his predictions for the 100th Tour de France, which starts on Saturday....


Wayne McCullough

Wonderful Davis

Wayne McCullough watched Antonio Rogerio Nogueria take on Phil Davis at UFC Fight Night 24. ...


Wayne McCullough

Jones shines bright

Wayne McCullough was highly impressed as the talented Jon Jones made short work of Mauricio Rua....


Wayne McCullough

A bloody marvel

Wayne McCullough salutes Diego Sanchez as he edges out Martin Kampmann in a UFC humdinger....