Georgia Bulldogs

ATHENS, Ga. - It was in the best seller section of a Barnes & Noble in this college town that Kathy Rackley found a novel story of her own - a young man by the name of Malcolm Mitchell.

“I mean a chance encounter in a bookstore, how wonderful is that?” said Kathy. She had no idea who Mitchell was. “None whatsoever.”

And Malcolm didn’t tell her. “I knew they were going to find out,” Mitchell said. “But I wasn’t going to say it.”

Fact is, Rackley may have been the only one in Athens who didn’t know the name Malcolm Mitchell. Number 26 for the University of Georgia Bulldogs was one of the top recruits in the country a few years ago. He’s Georgia royalty.

And presumably, if Rackley had known that, she wouldn’t have stood in that Barnes & Noble talking his ear off about the book club she had just joined.

“I mean he like stepped back and he said ‘You did? You did?’ and he said, 'Can I join your book club?’” Rackley recalled.

“And I said, 'I don’t know if you want to join mine. We’re all 40-, 50-, and 60-year-old women.’”

But Mitchell was undeterred. So now, one of the top wide-receivers in the country has been meeting monthly with his book club lady friends.

He’s the only man, and the youngest by a generation – but Mitchell doesn’t care. Nor does he care what anyone thinks.

“Somebody called me a nerd. That’s not a word that I’m used to hearing,” he said. But he’s more than okay with the label. “I was proud of it… It’s like a badge of honor to me, knowing where I came from.”

Mitchell confessed that when he started college he could only read at about a junior high level, and it bothered him. So he started putting as much effort into his reading game as his football game.

Every free moment, he had a book in his hand. He’s now reading things he never dreamed he could, and although some of the book club selections he would never pick himself, Mitchell seems to enjoy them all.

After everything he’s accomplished, what’s he most proud of?

“I finished the 'Hunger Games’ series in about two days,” Mitchell said.

Wait, but what about the touchdowns?

“That came natural,” Mitchell said. “That’s a gift. I had to work to read.”

But his greatest talent may lie in his ability to step so outside his comfort zone, to be able to meet people and focus so sincerely on what they have in common, instead of their trivial differences.

Sometimes football makes men great. And sometimes, great men just happen to play football.

THE SQUIDBILLIES ARE COMIN’ TO JACKSONVILLE

Before the big game (the one between Georgia and Florida), join the cast and crew for a special screening featuring new episodes, giveaways and a few surprises. Find out what happens when Sheriff lets loose at the world’s largest outdoor cocktail party.

The road to the CFB Playoffs is full of dangers!

Last week two conference favorites (Ohio State and Penn State) were upset as they battled on the road, causing major damage to their playoff hopes. And this week it sets up in a very interesting parallel. Both Alabama and Georgia, the two best teams from the SEC, face road battles against good teams. Do not take a second for granted!! 

New Year’s Six Prognostication: Week 13

Things are developing. Sort of. The College Football Playoff is sprinting towards either inviting a 2 loss team into the Playoff or having two teams from the same conference. I’m not sure which will happen as neither has occurred in the short history of the Playoff yet. Personally, I think that they should just invite UCF, but that seems to be out of the question as far as the committee is concerned.

So with all that in mind, here’s what I think will happen:

Cotton Bowl: 11-2 Georgia vs 10-2 Penn State

I think I’ve paired up these two a lot lately. It makes sense to me. Georgia can still win the SEC and make the Playoff. Penn State can’t.

Fiesta Bowl: 12-0 UCF vs 10-3 Stanford

I have no idea who’s gonna win the PAC-12, but on a good day I think Stanford can beat USC. We’ll see, Washington State needs to lose for that to even happen. Oh yeah, and the least respected team in the rankings plays an underwhelming PAC-12 Champion.

Orange Bowl: 9-3 Virginia Tech vs 11-2 Ohio State

Ohio State might make the Playoff as a two loss team. Or they might not. I don’t know. Virginia Tech has to take the ACC’s spot if both Clemson and Miami go, which is the scenario I’m currently working with but I have no idea if it’ll happen. Yay Hokies for making it, but they get to play sacrificial lamb.

Peach Bowl: 12-1 Wisconsin vs 10-2 Washington

Call it the Consistency Bowl. I’ve paired up these teams five times since Week 4. It just makes sense.

Rose Bowl (semifinal): 12-1 Clemson vs 12-1 Oklahoma

Sugar Bowl (semifinal): 13-0 Alabama vs 12-1 Miami FL

I have no clue how the committee is gonna deal with the ACC potentially having two 12-1 teams. Also, I have much less confidence in Alabama winning out, but I’ve gone this far riding that horse so I’m sticking with it.