OK, Georgia Tech fans, give me your best shot. I asked for it. You have shown me over the past two decades that you never forget two things: the Pythagorean theorem and my editorial sideswipes at your institution.
Back in 2007, I had great sport with you when one of your promotional geniuses in the athletic department decided that to get people to attend the Tech-Virginia football game the experience would be enhanced with hip-hopper Big Boi flinging his bling at halftime.
I recall saying with much piety at the time that at the University of Georgia we didn’t need rap to entice our fans to watch our scholar-athletes engage in friendly competition with scholar-athletes from other educational institutions. We had the world’s greatest mascot, Uga, our esteemed marching band, the Georgia Redcoats and a carload of hard-running tailbacks. I may have erred.
Fast-forward to the recent G-Day game. It seems we have a promotional genius of our own running amok in the UGA athletic department. It wasn’t enough that the game would be the much-anticipated debut of the nation’s No. 1 quarterback prospect, Jacob Eason, of Washington state.
Nor did it seem to matter that local-boy-made-good, Kirby Smart, a former star defensive back at UGA before becoming a key member of the staff of University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, was making his first appearance as the Bulldogs’ head ball coach.
Nope, that wouldn’t draw a crowd. We needed a rapper.
So, the geniuses in UGA’s athletic department decided to hire Ludacris and to pay him the ludicrous sum of $65,000 to perform for 15 minutes before the game. That works out to $4,333.33 per minute. Only the late Ray Charles Robinson, of Albany, Ga., was worth that kind of money and only if he sang, “Georgia on my Mind.”
In addition to the fee, Ludacris had a few other demands, courtesy of what we in showbiz call a hospitality rider. Kudos to the Macon Telegraph for getting their hands on the information through an open records request. We won’t be so lucky in the future. The legislature passed and Gov. Nathan Deal has signed into law a measure that takes effect on July 1 and will require 90 days before athletic department information can be made public. Now we know why.
The UGA athletic department had to provide Ludacris and friends with dinner for 10 people, complete with grilled chicken, chicken wings, pasta, brown rice, mixed vegetables, fruit salad, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, a loaf of whole grain bread, organic peanut butter and organic jelly — or in lieu of fine dining, pay the staff members $40 each.
In addition, Ludacris required a rechargeable toothbrush and toothpaste (you can’t make this stuff up), two bottles of vodka (Belvedere), two bottles of cognac (Conjure), two gardenia-scented candles, six white T-shirts, two cases of Snapple, two packs of batteries (AA and AAA), one deodorant (Secret) and to top off the day, a box of condoms. It makes you wonder who was entertaining whom.
I have tried to be generous over the years to my alma mater with my time (except during the reign of Malibu Mike Adams) and my tithes (even in spite of him), but I never knew the potential leverage I had until Ludacris hosed the athletic department crowd for his 15 minutes of fun and fame.
Going forward, before I share my shekels with UGA, I may have a hospitality rider of my own. Unlike Ludacris, my demands are admittedly modest. I don’t need organic peanut butter or scented candles or a rechargeable toothbrush — not to mention a box of Ecstasy wink-winks — I would just ask the powers-that-be to ban broccoli from the campus and then to find who in our athletic department thinks we care so little about our Dawgs that we have to be hip-hopped into coming to see them play and then send them packing.
I don’t give a rip about rap. If that stuff floats your musical boat, good for you. But when you have to give a performer — any performer — $65,000, a bunch of booze and a box of condoms in order to entertain us for 15 minutes before an intra-squad game on the hallowed grounds of Sanford Stadium, we’ve got the athletic tail wagging the Dawg. Hopefully, somebody in the administration will jerk that tail.
I am sure Tech fans will have a ball with this one. They should. We deserve it.