Arts & Culture

Who They’re Cheering For

A sampling of Southerners’ predictions for the national championship game

Photo: Romeo T. Guzman (left) and John Green/Both of Cal Sport Media via AP Images

The college football national championship between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs in Atlanta on Monday night has the entire South abuzz. Less than three hundred miles, the Chattahoochee River, and decades of competition separate Athens from Tuscaloosa. And whether folks are calling the dawgs, yelling “Roll Tide Roll,” or sitting on the couch wishing their team was there instead, everyone south of the Mason-Dixon has something to say about the big game.

“I’m a Georgia fan. I grew up listening to games on my father’s transistor radio. As a freshman at UGA, I attended Herschel Walker’s debut at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. As a sophomore, I screamed and hollered as James Brown pranced the sidelines, chanting Dooley’s Junkyard Dogs. So yeah, I’m for UGA.”

–John T. Edge, author and director of the Southern Foodways Alliance


“Is it possible for them both to lose? Not a prediction, just a dream.”

–Daniel Wallace, author and regular G&G contributor

“Alabama will win because that is the natural order of things. I’ve got nothing against the Bulldogs. I like the Bulldogs. But even if I wanted to pull for them, I couldn’t. People on my side of the state line would disown me, and perhaps be mean to my dog. Roll Tide.”

–Rick Bragg, author and regular G&G contributor

“I am all in on Georgia. I’ll actually be at the game with my ESPN colleagues representing my state and the underdog Dawgs. And wouldn’t we all like a break from talking about Alabama?”

–Allison Glock, senior staff writer for ESPN: The Magazine and ESPNW, and contributing editor for G&G

“I have to admit, as an Auburn grad, it’s damn hard to pull for the Tide. But given that Auburn beat Alabama and lost to Georgia in the SEC championship, I can’t say I’d be upset with a Bama victory this year. If Georgia won, it would make folks in Atlanta even more insufferable. And all that ESPN BS aside, there is a lot of state pride with both programs. No better place for football in the country. Anyone who ever played for either team has a lot of respect for each other.”

–Ace Atkins, author and G&G contributor

“I believe Georgia will win because I am all GEORGIA, but also because this might be a team that could be called ‘Destiny Dawgs.’”

–Vince Dooley, former UGA football coach

“Football? Honey, I was born in eastern Kentucky. It’s basketball season over here. Go Big Blue!”

–Ronni Lundy, journalist and cookbook author

“I am a Dawg. Born Dawg. Raised Dawg. Educated Dawg. It’s been a long drought for us Dawgs—37 years. I have no choice but to predict victory. By 2.”

–John Huey, former editor-in-chief of Time, Inc. and host of G&G’s Whole Hog podcast

“Football—that’s the one with the pointy ends, right? This time of year I’m a little more focused on bird dogs than bull dogs, and redfish tides instead of roll tides, whatever the heck that is. But I like seeing all those crowds in the football stadiums. Fewer peeps in the duck marsh!”

–T. Edward Nickens, author, freelance journalist, and regular G&G contributor

“Bulldogs like to diss Alabama folk as tragic trailer-dwelling rednecks who marry their cousins and brandish Tide detergent boxes with rolls of toilet paper stuck on top; Tide supporters like to bring up the Bulldog players arrested for weed after this year’s SEC championship game. Freaking hippies. Also, they claim Georgia people marry their cousins. Seen from space (or even from, say, Charleston) this game looks like one big, old, football factory duking it out against another big, old football factory. It’s being hyped as the Greeks versus the Trojans; Wolverine versus Magneto; Kirby Smart versus his old mentor and boss, Nick “Dead to Me” Saban. In the end, though, an SEC team will be national champion and 75,000 drunks dressed in some version of red will lurch through the streets of Atlanta in joy or despair.”

–Diane Roberts, author of Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America