Welcome back to In The Trenches!
It’s GAME WEEK BABY!!! WOOOO!!! That was the most Ric Flair I could ever be, and it was in type. Also, along the same lines, R.I.P. Mike Gundy’s Mullet.
When it comes to that first week of games, there’s a lot of things you should be doing. First of all, check your direct deposit to make sure some of your paycheck gets siphoned off into that secret account you use for gambling and generally being a degenerate without the wife’s knowledge. Second, along the same lines, make sure your bookie doesn’t have a new burner phone. While I don’t partake in the gambling scene unless I’m in Vegas or at the occasional poker night, I’m also cognizant of the fact that it’s a thing and a decent measure of performance predicting.
Chris is MUCH better at covering a game-by-game prediction and associating a cocktail with the game than I am, and I don’t dare step on his toes as a result. That said, if you are going to gamble, do so in the smartest way possible. Pay attention to those week one offseason suspensions, because they may affect the game more than the line would suggest. There’s a reason why I prefer my Gators open with a cupcake against [INSERT DIRECTION & STATE] State University. Directional State doesn’t really give you an idea of how good the team will ultimately be, but they do put a win towards bowl eligibility and make sure your suspended superstars don’t miss any important action.
As a Gator fan in a city filled with UGA, Auburn and the occasional North Avenue Trade School fans, I’m in a tough predicament. It’s entirely possible that in a city as diverse in fanbases as Atlanta, you too feel like you want to rep your team but don’t want to tank your sales figures or ruin your relationship with Stephanie in Accounts Receivable because you have that side deal with her for doing paperwork. I’ve found that it’s entirely possible to be a dick of a fan while still getting to play both sides of the fence. Let your opponent set the tone for what’s ok and what’s not ok.
For example, one of my old bosses was a huge FSU fan, and liked to rub their more recent national championship in my face as often as he could. He also knew I was a man with very few “feelings” and he could needle me as much as he wanted. He kept making 19-2 jokes about the 2015 loss my Gators were handed, and finally I popped back with one of my favorite jokes about FSU:
“It’s a damn good thing that Gatorade wasn’t invented at FSU…no one wants to drink Seminole Fluid.”
Any other situation, I probably would’ve been fired on the spot, but because he’d set the tone for our “friendly” rivalry, I was able to escape with a hearty laugh and no comeback. There is no comeback to a joke like that.
The Friday before kickoff is usually some bullshit holiday (like National Doughnut Day) whereby people are encouraged to wear their school colors. Depending on what department you work in, choose wisely about the ridiculousness of your attire. If you’re Stephanie in Accounts Receivable, go nuts, because aside from a couple of coworkers thinking you’re insane, there’s really no downside. I, on the other hand, have to be more surreptitious about my fandom. I go with a company Blue polo, a pair of Gator argyle socks my lovely wife got me for Christmas, and a pair of orange and blue Sperry’s normally reserved for game day because I’m apparently the whitest guy on the planet. Basically, let your job dictate your Fri-yay fandom and then go bat shit crazy on Saturday.
There was one time I let my fandom get the best of me. I was on-call and had to go to a customers home while the Cocktail Party was being played. They were UGA fans, but they needed the product I was selling. The game was on and they saw me fist pump after a touchdown by Florida (this was a couple of years ago clearly). I was shocked that they were cool and bought from me, but they told me afterwards that it was because I was willing to give up day drinking and football watching to come help them out. I no longer have to worry about in-home sales, as I now work in a different department, but I find it important to note that you can sell to a rival. Just don’t be a douche about it.
This week I have the privilege of heading to Panama City for week one of the season. My brother happens to live down there, and since there’s not much I’m interested in doing aside from going to the beach, I’m sure the Saturday TV schedule will be jam packed with neutral site match-ups before I finally give up and watching the SEC Network and my team open up against Charleston Southern. The last time I had this opportunity I was legally single (though very much engaged) and on the trip with my future wife. We pulled up to Sharky’s, a beach side bar in Panama City Beach that offers a refillable mug for mixed drinks. $70 later, my bride-to-be and I were surprisingly hammered, and it was a hell of a day with the beach to our backs and some LSU game on in front of us. This time may not be as drink filled, as we’ll be bringing our goldendoodle with us and I don’t believe Sharky’s is dog friendly, but it will nonetheless be a great time over Labor Day weekend.
Next week I’ll recap the major games throughout the SEC and the rest of college football, with a bitter, cynical twist. Let me know which games aside from UF/CSU I should be paying attention to in the comments section. Be safe out there this weekend, and I’ll catch up with you on Tuesday!