If you’ve just moved to Georgia or you just married someone from Georgia, there are some things you need to know about football. If you’re from somewhere else in the South, you’re probably already somewhat acquainted with the big figures in football in the Peach State. There is obviously the Atlanta Falcons. On the collegiate level, the University of Georgia Bulldogs dominates the NCAA scene. The Georgia Tech Yellowjackets occupy a special place in a lot of people’s hearts, especially around Atlanta. Some of the smaller schools also have very exciting teams, but if you’re just trying to keep up with the talk around the water cooler, these are the three you need to know about.
The Falcons are Atlanta’s professional football team. It’s known for its ups and downs. Its highs are very rarely that high, but its lows are very low. The Dirty Birds, as they are called, have appeared in twelve league championships since their creation in 1966. They have won the National Football Conference only once, in 1998. The Falcons are in a division of the NFC called the NFC South. They’re in the same division as the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Carolina Panthers. All three of these teams count as rivals, since the Falcons have to play each one twice per year. However, no rivalry is more heated than the team’s rivalry with New Orleans. The two teams are fairly close in proximity, both in the Deep South, and were created around the same time. They are natural rivals, and the rivalry is pretty split. The Falcons play at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, which is being rebuilt as the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Interestingly, Mercedes-Benz also owns the stadium of their rivals, the Saints.
The Falcons, as the only NFL team in Georgia, are well-liked by most people, but the team is not the crown jewel of Georgia football. The most recognizable name in Georgia football is the Georgia Bulldogs.
The Georgia Bulldogs are the football team of the University of Georgia, the flagship university in the state. The University of Georgia is often called UGA, combining the postal abbreviation for Georgia and the standard format of abbreviating universities. The team has a live mascot who is a bulldog named Uga. It is currently on the tenth dog, which is named Uga X. The team plays in Sanford Stadium and just recently fired its coach, Mark Richt. It was fairly controversial when Mark Richt was fired, because he had been fairly successful.
The Bulldogs competed for an SEC championship only a few seasons ago and lost on a last-minute incompletion to the University of Alabama. After firing Richt, the Bulldogs hired Kirby Smart, Alabama’s defensive coordinator. The move has been somewhat controversial. The team’s primary rivals are the Florida Gators, Georgia Tech Yellowjackets, and Auburn Tigers. It plays in the SEC East, and its only rival in the division is the University of Florida.
There is much more to football in Georgia than just these two teams, but if you’re going to get into a discussion of Georgia football, they will probably come up at some point.