Barbecue brouhaha at Georgia: What it all means

Should fans really be up in arms about which barbecue restaurant will be featured inside of Sanford Stadium?

ATHENS — Let me first state for the record, as a responsible beat writer, I care way more about why Georgia’s starting left tackle was not at practice Monday than I do about which barbecue joint will cater at Sanford Stadium and what a Subway restaurant is posting on its sign.

But, hey, you work with what you have, so …

In case you missed it, and it’s hard to know how you could, UGA has announced that Dreamland BBQ will be among those added to the concessions at Sanford Stadium. This, of course, elicited an angry response from two quarters:

— Barbecue snobs, such as legitimate BBQ expert Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated, who has spent a good amount of his life arguing that Dreamland, as famous as it is, is at best the second-best source of barbecue in Tuscaloosa, after Archibald’s.

— A segment of Georgia fans who are offended by what they see as another sign of the Alabama-ization of Georgia football. There are also those who wonder why a more local joint couldn’t have been involved.

UGA evidently felt the need to respond to all this. The UGA Alumni Association account on Tuesday tweeted out a profile from 2012 of Dreamland co-owner Betsy Underwood — a UGA alumna. She and her late husband bought Dreamland in 2000. The headline on the story: “Alumna brings a tasty Crimson Tide tradition to Georgia.”

The official Twitter handle of Georgia athletics tweeted it out. And a note was sent to reporters about the UGA alumni ownership of Dreamland. So maybe that will satisfy those concerned about local ties, though the barbecue experts still have to be handled.

Others are up in arms that Dunkin’ Donuts will be another concession- stand partner at Georgia games. These people prefer Krispy Kreme, or Starbucks, or Jittery Joe’s, or who knows. This is a matter of taste, literally, and this reporter — who is partial to Dunkin’ Donuts — will agree to disagree with others. But this point needs to be made:

Who drinks coffee at football games? (OK, I do, as do other writers in the press box, but we’re working 12-hour shifts.)

But when you conjure up the image of fans reveling in an SEC football game, you don’t think of coffee:

Fan: “CHANEY, THROW THE DANG BALL, YOU GOT ‘EM ON THEIR HEELS NOW … (pauses to take long sip on mocha caramel latte) …”

Another concession partner at Sanford Stadium, you may have heard, will be Subway, one of whose Athens locations has been a proud supporter of UGA athletics since Monday, a day after it took down a message that was critical of embattled athletic director Greg McGarity.

What to make of all this? Fine, use it to make fun of Georgia’s fan base if you will. This beat writer will not. After all, let’s put football in its place: You eat three meals a day. There are only 12 football games a year. (Sometimes there are more than 12 games. And sometimes there are more than three meals. Often on days there are games.)

But what this illustrates overall is a fan base that is angst-ridden, one which is antsy for success, or just wants something to be happy about. Scott Woerner, former player and uncle to a current Bulldog, wrote about this Tuesday. And Woerner wasn’t just talking about football. Georgia people badly want something good to happen, and soon, and they are rightfully searching for answers on why things aren’t better. So do people sometimes reach? Eh.

Prediction: Alabama fans aren’t complaining about the food choices at their games. And there’s a simple reason for that:

They have Archibald’s.

(Ducking, and headed to go cover football practice.)

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