ATLANTA — Alabama and Georgia don’t meet every season, so when the tradition-rich schools play, it’s special — even when it is a regular-season matchup.
So while it may sound like just another SEC game, when the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs play Monday night for the national championship, it will be an event.
There have been some memorable games in the rivalry that began in 1895 when the teams first played in Columbus, Georgia. Both hope Monday night will be another.
Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones, who played in a lopsided Alabama win over Georgia in 2008, is looking forward to seeing his alma mater play in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, his NFL home stadium.
The Falcons are preparing to play at the Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs on Saturday, but the Alabama-Georgia showdown had his attention on Wednesday.
“I’ve been pulling for Georgia, too, but I can’t cheer for them Monday,” Jones said Wednesday. “I can’t.”
Alabama has a 38-25-4 advantage in its series with Georgia. From 1941-65, the SEC rivals met almost every season. Since then, the meetings have been far more rare — four times in the 1970s, only twice in the ’80s and four more in the ’90s. They’ve played only twice in this decade, with Alabama winning both games.
The low point of the rivalry came in the early 1960s, when former Georgia coach Wally Butts and Alabama coach Bear Bryant each successfully sued the Saturday Evening Post magazine about a story which alleged they conspired to fix the 1962 game, won by the Crimson Tide, 35-0.
Butts was Georgia’s athletic director at the time of the alleged conspiracy, and he initially was awarded $3.06 million. The settlement was later reduced to $460,000, and Bryant settled for $300,000.
Now the juicy news is on the field.
As soon as former longtime Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart was hired as Georgia’s coach before the 2016 season, fans began hoping to see Smart face his former boss Nick Saban , perhaps in the SEC championship game.
Having a national title on the line makes the reunion even more enticing.