Georgia Bulldogs fans have a special love affair with New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS — Joe Purcell and Lori Lord of Athens set out for New Orleans in a rented 15-passengar van on Wednesday morning. It was raining when they left and didn’t stop all the way through Alabama.

But the weather cleared about the time they made it to Biloxi, Miss. It’s been nothing but blue skies ever since. They rolled into New Orleans Thursday afternoon and made it to the Red Fish Grill on Bourbon in time to meet friends for happy hour, which meant $3 draft beer and 75-cent oysters.

“It doesn’t get much better than this,” Purcell pronounced, as he started on his second dozen oysters and washed them down with an Abita Amber on draft.

Purcell’s journey to New Orleans was being repeated hundreds of times over by Georgia fans, who were flocking to the Crescent City by the thousands on Thursday and Friday. Up and down Bourbon Street, and on Royal and in Jackson Square and the French Market, the same greeting was being exchanged at every street corner.

“Go Dawgs,” a red-and-black-clad individual would say to a similarly-dressed passer-by.

“Go Dawgs,” would come the obedient reply.

Nobody seemed to stop. They’d simply acknowledge that allegiance and keep moving on. There was too much to see and do to dilly-dally.

When it comes to the Georgia Bulldogs and New Orleans, theirs is a long and deep love affair. Unrequited for extended periods of time, the passion and emotion is instantly rekindled whenever the red and black contingent congregates here.

It is here, in the smelly, cobblestoned streets of the French Quarter, where many of the Bulldogs’ greatest memories have been made. Georgia won its only undisputed national championship here 39 years ago. Almost every SEC championship season the Bulldogs received validation here in the form of a Sugar Bowl, nine times in all.

Jackson Square …

— TOWERS' TAKE (@ChipTowersDN) October 11, 2018

So the memories are good and strong, and Georgia fans know their way around. Some were racing down St. Peters Street bound for the Cafe Du Monde and her beignets. Others made a beeline to the Acme Oyster House or Old Nawlins Cookery for some of the local fare.

By 1 p.m., live music was already flowing out of the open windows of the B.B. King Blues Club on Decatur Street. At 4 in the afternoon, a long line had already queued up in front of Preservation Hall to buy tickets for the 9 o’clock jazz show. The line to get into Pat O’Brien’s for Hurricanes was down the block well before dark.

The weather Thursday was sunny and unseasonably mild for these parts. The temperature gauge said 80, but firm breezes, the benevolent remnants of Hurricane Michael, blew steadily inland from the Mississippi River, keeping the heat in check. The sounds of jazz and blues music traveled with it.

This was the calm after one storm and before another. Hurricane Michael took his best shot at the Florida panhandle and South Georgia on Wednesday and carried destruction right through the middle of our fair state and on into the Carolinas.

The art district on Royal in the French Quarter.

— TOWERS' TAKE (@ChipTowersDN) October 11, 2018

But west of all that a congregation of Georgians began to form in the Big Easy. It had an air Thursday of troops gathering at a border and staging for an inland march.

The battle takes place on Saturday in Baton Rouge, 80 miles north and west of New Orleans. The No. 2-ranked Bulldogs (6-0, 4-0 SEC) visit No. 12 LSU (5-1, 2-1) at Tiger Stadium. It will count as only one win or one loss, either way, but the mass of people that have gathered and the sense of anticipation suggests there’s more on the line.

There are important implications, for sure. The narrative on Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs now is that they might be overrated, that they haven’t been tested and won’t be until they tee it up in a place known as Death Valley.

But the underlying message as the Georgia fans kept pulling into town and landing at the airport is that the Bulldogs simply don’t get here enough.

It has been 10 years since the Dawg Nation had the pleasure of coming out this way to play LSU in football. It will be 12 years before they come back again. In the SEC’s current eight-game, rotating schedule model, Georgia won’t get to face LSU in Baton Rouge again until 2030.

That’s way too long, for sure, and Kirby Smart agrees. Georgia’s dynamic young coach has joined the growing chorus of SEC coaches who agree the league should do away with the eight-game, rotating schedule and go to a nine-game slate. It’ll be uneven and imperfect, like they all are, but it will keep the Bulldogs from playing non-traditional rivals like LSU but twice in 22 years.

Zydeco — but of course! — at Crazy Corner in the French Quarter.

— TOWERS' TAKE (@ChipTowersDN) October 11, 2018

Then again, maybe that’s why the Georgia fans are flocking here like they are this weekend.

The Purcells came in a 15-passenger van because there weren’t anymore available at any of the local rental agencies in New Orleans. They’ve sold out. Their plan, to scoop up a big group of fellow Bulldogs, shuttle them up to Baton Rouge Saturday morning and then whip up a mess of jambalaya for a tailgate before the 2:30 p.m. kick, apparently is one shared by many Georgia fans.

But first, there will be another whole day of restaurants and jazz haunts and oysters on the half shell. About that, nobody wearing red and black was complaining.

The post Georgia Bulldogs fans have a special love affair with New Orleans appeared first on DawgNation.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Kirby Smart updates Georgia football injuries: tailback D’Andre Swift ankle injury
Kirby Smart updates Georgia football injuries: tailback D’Andre Swift ankle injury

ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart said tailback D’Andre Swift has a sprained ankle, but outside linebacker D’Andre Walker was merely cramping up at LSU and carries no injury designation. Swift was not at Tuesday’s practice, but Smart doesn’t anticipate the injury leading to any missed playing time...
5 Georgia Tech observations at the open date
5 Georgia Tech observations at the open date

Before the season began, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson spoke with typical confidence about his team’s prospects for the season ahead. Speaking at the team’s media day prior to the start of the preseason, Johnson said he went into every season – this one included – thinking that his team had a chance to win every game. As always...
Injured college football player to be moved to Shepherd Center
Injured college football player to be moved to Shepherd Center

Christion Abercrombie is coming home. More than two weeks after being critically injured in a college football game, the 20-year-old will be moved to Atlanta’s Shepherd Center on Wednesday, Tennessee State University said.  The Tennessee State University linebacker, an Atlanta native and Westlake High School graduate, was critically injured...
Week 9 Roundup
Week 9 Roundup

The biggest game—and most dramatic ending—came with Blessed Trinity’s 21-20 overtime victory at Flowery Branch. The host Falcons rallied two touchdowns back to force overtime at 14-14. Blessed Trinity scored on the first possession of the extra period for the go ahead 21-14. The Falcons answered with a Zarian Browner touchdown run...
Falcons release official depth chart for Giants’ game 
Falcons release official depth chart for Giants’ game 

The Falcons (2-4) released their official depth chart, with new kicker Giorgiao Tavecchio added, for their game against the Giants (1-5), which will be played on Monday Night Football:   WR 11 Julio Jones, 14 Justin Hardy, 17 Marvin Hall  LT 70 Jake Matthews, 74 Ty Sambrailo LG 71 Wes Schweitzer, 63 Ben Garland C 51 Alex Mack, 71...
More Stories