Sugar Bowl Insider: No Mardi Gras panache this year

Chuck Finder and Ray Fittipaldo
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Saturday, December 31, 2005

ATLANTA -- You can bring the Sugar Bowl parade to Peachtree Street, but you have to leave the beads, booze and breast-baring back in New Orleans.

That's what Atlanta politicians and police have enforced on a prime piece of the Sugar Bowl experience moved here because of Hurricane Katrina's devastation. The parade, scheduled for 7-9 p.m. tonight through city streets, will feature roughly 38 floats/units and 1,000 musicians, but none of the Mardi Gras panache normally displayed on Bourbon Street. No beads will be tossed from floats. No open containers of alcohol will be permitted around the parade. No women -- or men, for that matter -- will be goaded into trading a quick shirt lift for some beads.

The reason isn't so much strict Atlanta laws as it is the prevailing Baptist and religious-conservative mores. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution yesterday quoted John Cornetta, a proprietor of Atlanta stores selling sex-themed products, as saying: "People take themselves too seriously here. In honor of all the victims of Hurricane Katrina who are here, we should waive all our moralistic opinions for a day and let them have their fun. I plan to go down to the Sugar Bowl, throw beads and show my breasts to see if I can get arrested."

The heck with Rich Rodriguez's red and green wristbands for offensive signals, those colors translated into Stop Bringing Food and Keep Grub Coming at the team meal at celebrated Fogo de Chao in Atlanta. Even though Rodriguez imposed a limit of a five-pound weight gain on his beefy Mountaineers linemen, two of them kept giving servers Thursday the green light. "I think I came in pretty well with the steak-eating thing," all-Big East center Dan Mozes bragged. "Me and [backup center] Mike Dent -- he can put away the food now."

All-Big East nose tackle Earnest Hunter and rotating defensive tackle Johnny Dingle missed practice yesterday with a stomach virus, but Rodriguez expected them to work out today when the team walks through the Georgia Dome and practices at Georgia Tech. Slotback Jeremy Bruce of Blackhawk High has been ruled out of the game Monday because of an ankle injury.

Rodriguez made a decision on his No. 3 quarterback, and that is ... "I'm not going to pull a redshirt on a guy," such as freshmen T.J. Mitchell, Jarrett Brown or Nate Sowers. But chances are slim that both Pat White and Adam Bednarik would get hurt, necessitating that a No. 3 play.

After gobbling up some Thanksgiving turkey, Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley sat down in front of his television and watched the Backyard Brawl. He finished the night impressed with his Sugar Bowl counterpart, Mountaineers redshirt freshman Pat White, who rushed for 220 yards in their 45-13 victory against Pitt. "He puts a lot of pressure on the defense," Shockley said. "I've seen what he's done against other teams. I don't like that we have to play against him. It kind of scares me."

The Georgia program wasn't quite the same through two regimes after the retirement of Vince Dooley, the coach who brought the Bulldogs a national championship in 1980 and 20 bowls in his 25 seasons. Mark Richt, though, has directed the Bulldogs back to prominence, winning a minimum of 10 games for four consecutive years -- after just one such season from 1993-2000 -- and playing in three SEC championship games and advancing to two BCS games. "I've been here with coach Richt all five years," senior lineman Dennis Roland said. "When he first got here we were down and talked about knocking the lid off the program, getting the train rolling again."

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