If you’re outside in Augusta on Monday night, listen closely. Underneath the whistle of the winter wind, you may hear one voice singing… is that a fight song?

Glory, glory to old Georgia….

Augusta’s Bob Lippert might be the biggest University of Georgia fan north of the other Augusta, the one with the Masters. In 1968, Lippert was a walk-on linebacker on the Georgia freshman football team. Although he was only on the Athens, Georgia campus one year, Lippert is a Bulldog through and through. When Georgia plays SEC rival Alabama on Monday night in the national championship game, Lippert will be watching. His body will be in his Augusta home, but Lippert’s heart will be in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Lippert arrived at Georgia thinking he’d try to walk on to the baseball team. Instead, he ended up in the football office. The coaches put this raw, unpolished kid on defense, first on the line, then at linebacker.

“They didn’t cut anybody,” Lippert said. “I blitzed a lot. It was a blast.”

Back then, NCAA rules prohibited freshmen from playing varsity. Those same rules did not prohibit freshmen from practicing with the varsity, however, and a couple times each week, Lippert and his freshmen defense would line up and take on the varsity offense. By today’s standards, those practices could almost be considered hazing. On Friday, when the varsity had a quick, lighter practice in anticipation of Saturday’s game, the freshmen practiced two and a half hours.

“They just beat the snot out of the freshmen,” Lippert said. “We were cannon fodder.”

Lippert was a teammate of future NFL safety and College Football Hall of Famer Jake Scott, who had 10 interceptions for the Bulldogs in 1968. The Bulldogs finished that season with an 8-1-2 record, and ranked fourth in the country. The lone loss came against Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.

“It was a fun year to be there,” Lippert said.

In practice the next spring, Lippert played a little tight end, but ended up coming back to Maine, where he enrolled at the University of Maine. He’s still a Bulldog, though, and that will never change. Every Christmas, Lippert’s stocking is stuffed with Georgia gear. This Christmas, Lippert got a Rose Bowl t-shirt, in anticipation of Georgia’s semifinal game against Oklahoma.

“I didn’t dare put it on. I didn’t want to jinx it,” he said.

In the ’80s, the Lippert family got a satellite dish. Not the kind that now sits discreetly on the roof. We’re talking the big, old fashioned kind that sat on the lawn like an ugly bird feeder, the kind one might use to contact the space shuttle. To use it, you had to punch coordinates into the receiver box in the house, then wait while the satellite rotated to pick up the signal. Sometimes the signal was clear. Often it was not. It didn’t help Lippert pick up more Georgia games, but it was good for watching the coaches show and other regional programs, he said.

Lippert expected the Bulldogs to be good this season, but when starting quarterback Jacob Eason went down with a knee injury in the season opener against Appalachian State, he had doubts. Then freshman Jake Fromm led the Bulldogs to a big road win at Notre Dame. The Bulldogs kept winning, and a November loss to Auburn was just a speed-bump. The Bulldogs beat the Tigers in the SEC championship game rematch.

When the Bulldogs fell behind Oklahoma in the first half on New Year’s Day, Lippert was disappointed, but not morose.

“I’m thinking the whole time, it’s great they got this far,” Lippert said.

Alabama is much like Georgia, a team that relies heavily on a strong defense. Lippert’s favorite player on this season’s Bulldogs roster might be linebacker Roquan Smith, who never seems to be out of position to make a tackle, even when it’s apparent he’s well out of position. Lippert studies Smith like the coach he is.

“He doesn’t miss a tackle,” Lippert said. “He’s always looking at his reads.”

With all the good memories Lippert has of his year at Georgia, one stands out. Prior to playing rival Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs visited children in a burn hospital. He remembers how excited the children were to talk with the players.

“To this day, I remember walking in there and seeing those kids. In my life, that’s one of the things I’ll never forget,” Lippert said.

Glory, glory to old Georgia…

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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