The Geography Bee Champ

SAVANNAH – That I won the National Geographic Geography Bee at Brockett Elementary school in 7th grade makes me an expert at reading maps.

There. I said it.

That I wasn't the best geographer (is that a thing?) in DeKalb County really didn't surprise anyone – including poor Jason Quartarone (he missed some obscure question about South America, and I didn't, costing him the championship and therefore expert status I still enjoy to this day).

Jason went on to go to Georgia Tech. He was one of the few kids who went on to go to Tech from Tucker. That's why went I saw Facebook's map of college football fans it came, really, as very little surprise to me that Georgia had more fans in every single zip code of the state than any other county… except four counties, and I will get to that in a minute.

Again, I am a geography bee champion, therefore I am a geography expert… let's keep that in mind.

The entire state of Georgia is blood red. All of South Carolina is maroon except the small corner where Clemson occupies more fans. Alabama dominates instate there.

But poor Georgia Tech. They were the only major conference team (that I could tell) that did not to win a county in their home state. Amazing, and totally different than when I earned my status as a geography expert.

Let me rewind for you to 1990 Atlanta. I was in eighth grade at Tucker High School. Georgia Tech was in the midst of "winning" the national title. Everyone either liked Georgia, Georgia Tech or Auburn (there probably were not more Tigers than Jackets in Atlanta, but I bet there are now).

There were three Georgia Tech fans by the time I graduated from Tucker. Two of them played basketball with me – two. That's not many.

Two decades later I know two Georgia Tech fans, and they are family members that went to Tech. Two.

That's why I really wasn't surprised to see the map of college football fans on Facebook. Do I take it as gospel? No. Because Tennessee isn't outnumbered by anyone in East Tennessee, and there are not more Gator fans than Bulldog fans in Jasper County, Georgia.

But, for the most part the map is pretty much dead on with regard to what's the biggest draw in each state – maybe with the exception of Mississippi and Arkansas, where LSU is allegedly the biggest team in those states. I will leave out the obligatory joke about Arkansas and Mississippi.

Having driven around the entire state of Georgia over the last 15 years, and being a geography expert, I can tell you who the biggest teams in Georgia are: Georgia, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Tennessee and Clemson. Yes, it depends on if you are in the country, or in the suburbs, but that's who it is – and that's about the order (although you might be able to mix up Bama, Tennessee and Clemson).

That it surprises me when I see a Georgia Tech logo tells you just how small their fanbase has become. That I have driven and do drive all around the state and can tell you only one spot (outside of Thomson just past the golf course on the way to Athens from Augusta) I know of that will have a Georgia Tech logo out speaks to how outnumbered the Jackets have become.

I never, and I mean never, see Georgia Tech represented in South Georgia. Actually I never really see Tech stuff outside of metro Atlanta. And even in Atlanta proper, Tech's message is drowning in the SEC's largest city. That Georgia is one of its largest member institutions of the SEC doesn't help. That Auburn and the rest are so close to Atlanta doesn't help. That Tech seems to be full of more people not from Georgia than from here has to be a major, major concern for the future of the school on North Ave.

I'm not writing this to make fun - just pointing out the obvious. As we saw in 2008, bigger (Georgia) isn't always better. But over the long term it sure seems to be. I was born in 1977. In my lifetime Tech has beaten Georgia nine times. Kids being recruited for the class of 2015 have been alive for four Tech wins, but were in diapers for three of them.

One close friend of mine who once covered the Bulldogs, but has gone on to a higher position, has theorized for years that Georgia Tech will become Tulane over time - a once-pround school that lost its way athletically because it left the SEC. That person doesn't have a dog (bad use of words) in the fight, but he swears Tech is on borrowed time. And it is hard for me not to think the same way given what I have seen in my lifetime when the two schools get together on the football field.

The map of Georgia brings home just how much of an in-state fan advantage Georgia has over the Jackets. But you don't need to be a geography expert to look into the crowd at Bobby Dodd Stadium and see the obvious – the Jackets are outnumbered, and it is getting worse.

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