It was as ugly as a warthog, but for the 11th time in the past 12 years, 38 of the past 50, and 65 out of 108, the University of Georgia —the oldest state-chartered university in the nation, located in Athens, the Classic City of the South —bested You-Know-Where Institute of Technology for the state football championship, 41-34.
YKWIT claims 39 victories during that time, but two don’t count. In 1943 and 1944, while our noble lads were off fighting for all that is right and good during World War II, our rivals imported some ringers from the U.S. Naval Academy and, quite handily, stomped our behinds. That was patently unfair, so we just ignore those two games. As far as I’m concerned, they never happened.
With the state championship secured for 2013, I suggest we now turn our attention to the best recruiting class ever at UGA. Sorry, I don’t have their heights and weights and some credible 40-yard-dash times. All I have are some stats on their brainpower, which is considerable.
We’re not talking football here — this is about the new freshman class at UGA.
University President Dr. Jere Morehead recently sent out a progress report on the 5,150 young people who were accepted this fall. Their average SAT score is 1,280 and their ACT average is 29, with a core-curriculum grade-point average of 3.86. In UGA’s vaunted Honors Program, there are 526 new students with a GPA of 4.07, an SAT average of 1,462 and an ACT average of 33.
“That is on the par with an Ivy League student body,” Morehead said.
He added that U.S. News and World Report magazine has ranked UGA 20th among public research universities and, for the second year in a row, one of the “Public Ivies.” Since 1995, the university has had eight Rhodes Scholars, 44 Goldwater Scholarships and 11 Truman Scholarships. In 2008, the university was the only public institution in the land with two Rhodes Scholars.
UGA supporters don’t have to apologize to anyone for our academic prowess. What we do have to apologize for is that not enough of us are supporting the school academically.
In his report, entitled “Reaching New Heights,” Morehead points out that the percentage of alumni who give to UGA has been on a downward trend for several years. My alma mater is ranked 98th in our endowments. That is shameful, embarrassing and unacceptable to this old Bulldog. If we were talking a football team that was ranked 98th in the nation, the fair-weather fans would be wearing out the warm-spit blogs and babbling their heads off on the talk-radio stations.
And, yes, I put my money where my mouthy criticisms are. While I have been a football season-ticket holder at Sanford Stadium for longer than many of our alumni have been on Earth, my main focus is on the academic side.
I had an interesting conversation with a young man who was scratching his head at how I could call myself a Bulldog when I didn’t own a box for the football games. I was in a rare mood of humility that day — it doesn’t happen often — and didn’t see fit to tell him that I had just made a long-term financial commitment to the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications that was worth about 25 or 30 boxes. And that doesn’t include my annual commitment to the school. Yeah, I can call myself a Bulldog.
One of the lingering misconceptions is that state tax dollars fund higher education in Georgia. Not so. Less than 40 percent of UGA’s operating budget is provided by state appropriations. Tuition and fees provide another 14 percent. The rest must come from alumni and foundations.
While we can proudly proclaim another victory against our football rival in Atlanta, please remember that it is only a game. The real business of UGA is turning out the best and brightest to ensure that our state can compete successfully in the 21st Century. There is no reason we can’t have the best of both worlds.
If you are a true Georgia Bulldog, you care as much about our Complex Carbohydrate Research Center as you do complex passing schemes. If you don’t agree, may Uga IX bite you where the sun doesn’t shine.
Email Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org or write him at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139.