ATHENS — Georgia’s seniors are calling on all Bulldog fans to wear black between the hedges on Saturday.
Will the players be part of the black-out, too?
There’s plenty of speculation that Georgia will don black uniforms for its crucial Southeastern Conference game against Auburn, though coach Mark Richt scoffed at the notion of giving up the team’s traditional red jerseys on such short notice.
"It’s hard to order up jerseys in a week’s time," he said.
Still, it’s an intriguing idea to consider, and Georgia wouldn’t be the first team to break out new uniforms in hopes of getting an emotional boost. Notre Dame is well known for switching to green jerseys for some of its biggest games.
"We probably should go with some black jerseys," said linebacker Marcus Washington, quickly getting into the spirit.
Don’t count on it, said cornerback Asher Allen.
"You ain’t ever going to see that happen," he said.
Taking up a request from the seniors, Richt asked all Georgia fans to wear black to the game instead of their usual red. Coca-Cola jumped on the bandwagon, announcing it would print up 5,000 black T-shirts to be distributed to students on the day of the game.
"I’m just doing what the seniors asked me to do," Richt said. "They wanted me to encourage the Bulldog nation to wear black. When I asked them why, they said, ‘We think it would be cool.’ I think it would be a very good sign of unity."
Richt even came to his weekly news conference wearing a black shirt and pants, and it’s likely he will have the same look on game day.
"I’m trying to get it started," he said.
Normally, 92,000-seat Sanford Stadium is a sea of red when the Bulldogs are at home, so it’s going to take quite an effort to get so many people to change colors.
"It’s a quick turnaround," Richt said. "I hope the fans will get excited about it and do it."
The seniors came up with the "black-out" among themselves and didn’t even let their younger teammates know about it. But all were excited when they heard about Richt’s public plea.
"I think it would be a cool idea," sophomore quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "Hopefully everybody kind of catches on and does it."
Home not so sweet
The Deep South’s oldest rivalry also has one of the strangest quirks: the home-field disadvantage.
Georgia has beaten Auburn only three times in their last 15 meetings at Sanford Stadium. Conversely, the Bulldogs are 9-5-2 in their last 16 trips to Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Coach Mark Richt prefers to look at the series in the shorter term.
"If you go by history, we’re won one of the last two times we’ve played here," he said, referring to a 26-7 victory in 2003. "Fifty percent. That’s pretty good."
Georgia receiver Mohamed Massaquoi said he doesn’t worry about the past.
"Each week is its own individual week," he said. "You can’t go back and look at what happened before. It doesn’t help what’s going on now."
Of course, Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville is hopeful that history repeats itself on Saturday.
"When you have rival games, you get the most and best out of both teams," he said. "When that happens, anything can happen. There’s not really a road or home-field advantage in a rival game. It’s going to be a hard-fought game, and usually the best team comes out with a win."
This is the 111th meeting between Auburn and Georgia, making it one of just 23 series in the country that have been played at least 100 times.
Minnesota and Wisconsin lead the way with 116 games between them. Auburn-Georgia is tied with Oregon-Oregon State for the seventh most.
They said it
"He’s nothing but a faithful warrior to this program." — Georgia coach Mark Richt on senior running back Thomas Brown, who hopes to play this week after missing the last two games with a broken collarbone.