Monthly Archives: September 2013
Everyone has their opinions as to who are the best, worst, most obnoxious, or most loyal fans in the conference. Most of us hold these opinions due to countless antecdotes of personal grudges or family “houses divided”. Of course, I am no exception, having both visited and hosted just about every group of SEC maniacs in the conference (not to mention a few most notable non-conference foes). This week I’m going to get straight to it (as opposed to my usual manifestoes) and share some of my own experiences to show that LSU Nation corners the market on two major factors: caustic and loud. Let’s double-emphasize the “loud” part.
There’s a reson why everyone from Coach Richt to Aaron Murray’s mom keeps insisting that we all show up early and scream our hearts out. The Bayou Bengal fans who are descending on Athens this weekend are part of a faction that has, at least in my past experience, come to our town, staked out their territory, and made their presence known under no uncertain terms. They’ve invaded the stadium in conspicuous patches of purple and gold and have shown the ability to generate enough fierce volume as to turn a trip to a visitor’s stadium into their own home game. I can’t say I’ve seen that from anyone else’s visitors.
We’re talking about a fan base who are probably the only ones in the SEC that can claim that their loudness once caused an earthquake.
But the good news is this: I’ve seen firsthand what can happen when we decide to give it right back to them. They can be stopped. And the team can be helped. All we have to do is get there and be loud. It’s that simple.
Sure, it sounds cliched and tiresome by now, and we all know that extreme fan behavior doesn’t guarantee a victory, but it does matter. And of course, being a purveyor of Georgia Football antecdotes, let me give you three examples of how that “12th man” has turned the tables in particular on the Crazy Cajuns of Baton Rouge.
–Georgia vs. LSU, 1999
The 90’s were different times in the Bulldog Nation. It was a program that suffered from a perpetual inferiority complex and endless self-doubt. LSU Nation seemed to know this and fed on it all to create more vitriolic noise than I personally had ever heard from an opposing team at Sanford Stadium. The blocks of fans in the upper decks hurled their inflammatory jeers down at us like handfuls of rotten tomatoes, and all we did was stare back incredulously. How embarassing it was.
But then the drum major took matters into his own hands. He called a few rounds of glory and instructed the band to play (or shall I say blare mercilessly) a few rounds of “Glory” with all they had directed at our most ungracious guests. And wouldn’t you know it, the sound above started to falter. Pretty soon the energy made its way to other sections as we began to realize we had the power to shut them all up. It wasn’t too long before the stadium was alive and rocking once again.
And Georgia won a thriller of a game, 23-22.
–Georgia vs. LSU, 2004
All week long all we were told at band practice was to do one thing on Saturday: Play Loud. Play louder than we ever had before. LSU’s band, we were reminded, were notorious for doing just that and getting their biting fans involved in the noise. But they didn’t stand a chance. We came out strong, we came out fighting, and the crowd was with us 100%. It was one of the most inspiring shutdowns of the opposing team’s fans I’d ever seen. And I believe it was because we stuck to the game plan and didn’t give in. And of course Georgia won big, 45-16.
–Georgia vs. LSU, 2005 SEC Title Game
This one reflects a bit of a personal grievance of mine, so do indulge me for just a moment. As you all know, one of the most important parts of the Redcoats Pregame Show is the playing of “Battle Hymn”. You know it, the seven notes on a solo trumpet that erupts the crowd in cheers every time. It’s a sacred moment, especially for us in the marching band, and it should be respected. For some reason my eyes left the drum major for a few seconds, and I caught a glimpse of a most unfortunate purple and gold gaggle. They were taking the opportunity to mock our gorgeous song through an egregious pantomime. Well, that was enough for me. I was on a personal mission to do all I could to ensure my team’s success that day. And apparently both my bandmates and the crowd were with me. Of course, we won and took the SEC title, 34-13.
It’s simple. You don’t mess with “Battle Hymn” and expect to get away with it. Not in my world.
As far as what has happened in the Georga-LSU games since, I couldn’t tell you (having been absent from Georgia for the last five years). But I do know this: LSU Nation can be stopped. There is something we can do to help ensure that this happens. And with such a bizarrely insane sect of SEC fans coming to Athens, we need to pull out all the stops.
So do me a couple of favors this weekend, BDN:
–Stay classy, Athens. We can be loud and supportive, but please be respectful. There’s no reason to personally attack any visiting fans while supporting your own team. Keep it positive, stay focused on the game (and not necessarily on the Mettenberger drama) and make it happen in an honorable way. (That is, don’t mock their version of “Battle Hymn”, so to speak.)
–Scream extra loud for me in case I don’t make it in–I am still on the hunt for tickets! (Insert smiley here!)
So there you have it, my quick-and-dirty, totally biased, mawkish old fan’s assessment of how we need to be this weekend. I hope to make it into the stadium, but if not, at least I’ll see you at Dawg Walk!
Cheers! (And I mean literally this time…)
Next week…….Whatever Happened to the Big Orange?
–Jennifer Rohner, Chief Cultural Correspondent
Georgia vs. LSU!!!! Yeah, we talk about that.
Alabama/Ole Miss. Yup.
Other games that I can’t remember as well? Affirmative.
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Lucas Puente, a 2010 UGA alumnus and an Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellow at Stanford, stops by to dispute a claim I made earlier in the week. This is absolutely incredible work, and I sincerely appreciate him sharing. You can follow Lucas on Twitter right here.
Since 1995, ESPN’s College Gameday has broadcast from the scene of 16 UGA games, though the crew has only been to Athens twice. The last of which was the infamous blackout game against Alabama, when the Tide raced to a 31-0 lead and never looked back. With that disastrous game in the back of many fans’ minds, the news that Gameday would be returning to the Classic City this weekend was met with a fair degree of trepidation. Those buying into the “Gameday Curse” were convinced Lee Corso coming to campus could only mean one things: the Dawgs would lose.
Andrew blogged about this earlier in the week, writing why he thought this theory was bogus. In that piece, he eloquently argued that the reason Georgia had only won 3 of these 16 games was not because of some superstitious curse, but rather just because they were the outmanned team on many of these occasions. Among other evidence, he points to UGA being the lower ranked team in 7 of its 13 losses. The point is a good one: we shouldn’t compare UGA’s record in College Gameday games (winning percentage of .1875) to its performance in all other games (.7402). In many ways, the two sets are apples and oranges. After all, Chris Fowler normally isn’t there to witness a blowout against Kentucky, but often is at the Georgia Dome on the first Saturday of December.
While I agreed with the gist of Andrew’s point and really wanted him to be right, I wasn’t ready to fully accept that he was until I could test the theory myself. After getting in touch with him (we first met as freshmen living in Myers Hall), I began this fun little project. He shared the list of College Gameday appearances at UGA games as well as the results from every UGA game from 1995 to today. I then added to this data set by looking up the Vegas line for each of the 232 games in the sample.
Once the data were collected and organized, I set about investigating the theory. As a first cut, I first ran a series of logistic and OLS regressions. Through theses tests, I examined whether the appearance of College Gameday could predict UGA’s result after controlling for other relevant variables (editorial note: I used a logit model when measuring this outcome dichotomously as either a win or a loss and an OLS model when measuring it as the point differential; both models produce substantively similar results). The controls included the following: Vegas’s line on the game, where UGA and the opponent were ranked (1-5, 6-10, 11-25, or unranked; I also used interactions of these), and the location of the game. I tested a few specifications of the empirical model (i.e. what I controlled for), but the unfortunate result that there is indeed a Gameday Curse indeed emerged. That is, holding these other variables constant, the appearance of College Gameday at a UGA game is associated with a statistically significant (i.e. non-zero) decrease in the probability of winning (I’ll hold off on a discussion of the magnitude until the end).
Still, as some of you are likely to point out, College Gameday doesn’t randomly choose where to go every Saturday (though I still don’t know why they went to Fargo, ND last week), so we can’t interpret the results of the regressions as confidently as we would a well-executed experiment. In statistical parlance, the findings discussed in the preceding paragraph do not necessarily represent the average treatment effect of the College Gameday crew coming to town (we have to make a series of additional assumptions for that to be true). Thus, I proceeded to test it again, this time using propensity score matching (for fellow stats geeks, I also tried Mahalanobis and Euclidean matching; the results produce the same conclusions). Basically, this technique finds the non-Gameday game that is closest to each Gameday game, based on the same same observed characteristics listed above, and then compares the outcomes. There are two ways to do this, matching with replacement or without it. The former enables a non-Gameday game to be the relevant comparison for more than one Gameday game (thereby minimizing bias), while the latter does not (minimizing the variance).
The results from this matching exercise are displayed in the table below (remember that this is done through my statistical software, R, not by my own ad hoc guesses). These two sets of games are basically identical to the games that the College Gameday crew came to, with the obvious difference being no ESPN Gameday around pre-game. Demonstrating this, in, non-Gameday games, the average line is -7.7034, but this rises to +3.0938 after matching, a figure indistinguishable from Gameday games’ average line of +3.0938.
Unfortunately, the finding that College Gameday’s appearance is associated with the Dawgs being more likely to lose holds even after matching on these observable characteristics. In terms of magnitude, the “treatment” of Fowler, Corso, Herbsteit, and company showing up is associated with a 37.5–50% decrease in the likelihood of winning.
The conclusion here is that traditionally Georgia hasn’t played well following the on-site broadcast of College Gameday as compared to otherwise (seemingly) identical games. On the surface, this does not bode well for the Dawgs on Saturday. However, these findings do not mean that we should go ahead and write off our chances against the Tigers. Remember that my statistical analysis is backward looking and therefore not designed to predict what will happen after the first whistle blows. My point is that this year’s team is different in many ways than the teams that came before it and there’s really no reason the exceedingly poor performance of UGA in Gameday-games in the past should cause the Dawgs to lose on Saturday. So let’s help them reverse this trend by wearing red and making Sanford as loud as possible. Go Dawgs!
Thanks for this, Lucas. Please come back often.
Not all of us are fortunate enough to be attending this week’s Georgia/LSU showdown Between the Hedges. Among those of us who are, there is a select crowd (of which I am a ringleader) who will be glued to the TV for college football for the rest of Saturday as well. (For the record: after attending UNC/Georgia Tech, I watched Florida/Tennessee, some USC/Utah State, Notre Dame/Michigan State because I am a masochist, Alabama/CSU, Stanford/Arizona St., LSU/Auburn, Michigan/UConn, Texas/Kansas St., and Utah/BYU in a pretty elaborate rotation of networks).
Thank god this week isn’t last week, where I couldn’t rightfully recommend games in every timeslot to even the most dedicated football observers.
The winner of this timeslot is #12 South Carolina against UCF (ABC), or ‘the team that’s probably the second-best in the AAC but you probably don’t know they’re in the AAC’. This is just a weird game for SC, and the type that could be close as its time to start stumbling down to Sanford Stadium.
I’ll be tuned into ECU at North Carolina (TV in Georgia: questionable), because of course I will be. Since I’m hosting a tailgate before the real game, I expect this to be met with mild-to-strong resistance. Too bad you can’t change the channel without the remote. A lot of points will be scored here, so it could be fun for you too.
#11 Oklahoma St. travels to West Virginia (ESPN) in both teams’ conference opener, and Dana Holgorson (seriously, how much does he look like Bob Odenkirk?) should be fresh off a casino-and-methamphetamine bender. Otherwise, no intrigue here. Pitt hosts Virginia in an utterly meaningless ACC Coastal matchup.
MID-AFTERNOON, OR LUDICROUSLY LONG CBS COMMERCIAL BREAK FODDER
#14 Oklahoma at #22 Notre Dame (NBC). We all want to see Notre Dame lose, as the ’12th man’ (Lennay Kekua) needs to officially retire her stupid, ghastly luck. I was impressed with Oklahoma the one time I saw them this year, and the Big XII has 5 or 6 potential winners. Scout them now and tell me what’s up.
For reasons inexplicable to me, Wake Forest has played #3 Clemson (ESPNUUUU) ridiculously close in years past, including a near-Clemsoning-before-they-Clemsoned-in-the-Orange-Bowl-against-WVU in 2011, a 31-28 escape at home. #8 Florida State visits a much-improved Boston College (ABC or ESPN2) team, as the Noles play their second
ACC Big East game of the year.
So you have one compelling nonconference matchup, two top-10 ACC teams against ACC cellar-dwellers, and a few irrelevant BCS conference games (apologies to Iowa/Minnesota (ABC or ESPN2….?) and Oregon St./Colorado grads…especially the one below).
EARLY EVENING: GAMES YOU WILL BE TOO DRUNK TO REMEMBER
SEC FANS! We have conference games, led, obviously, by #21 Ole Miss at
underwhelming bored #1 Alabama (ESPN). Does Ole Miss’ team know it’s supposed to be 1-2 years away? Is a team with road wins against Vandy and Texas aware of its surroundings? DOES DR. BO WALLACE GIVE A S***!?!? I don’t know the answers to those questions. I do bet the Black Bears will come out in those awful all-grey unis.
#10 Texas A&M visits Arkansas (the Deuce) in a game that shouldn’t be that close, but I do know one thing about Arkansasians: they hate Texans. In my giggity of the week, a #20 Florida team without its QB and likely its best player (rumor is Dominique Easley tore his ACL) travels to Kentucky (ESPNUagain), and YOU NEVER KNOW (you know). But a man can dream, right?
Arizona at #16 Washington (FOX) should provide some West Coast shootout-type entertainment with Gus Johnson making it EVEN MORE EXCITINGGGGGGG AHHHJEHGFNEJIEFHIFUJEFNUIFEW!?!?!?!?!?!?!?@>!!!!!W!U#!U*#!(#U!!!!!!!!!!
Unfortunately, there is always a B1G game on in primetime, and ABC draws #23 Wisconsin at #4 Ohio State in a game that all Bulldogs should be Badgers for, as an Ohio State/Oregon (or Stanford) BCS National Championship becomes more plausible by the week.
LATE NIGHT “THERE’S STILL FOOTBALL BEING PLAYED??” GAMES
A decent trio of Pac-12 games here, as #5 Stanford visits The Pirate (Washington St. is now known as The Pirate, as Mike Leach is more important than the random BCS school he is coaching, without exception). Cal goes to #2 Oregon in a game that will show us a lot about the conditioning of NCAA officials. USC @ Arizona St. is a sociological study in coaches that are hated for completely legitimate reasons.
Enjoy the games, folks. Unless you’re an LSU fan.
Head on over to the GDP (Gwinnett Daily Post, not Gross Domestic Product) to see my weekly SEC picks. I’m looking to improve on my 36-6 record, so wish me luck.
That’s all I got/