Anticipation was building for the Southeastern Conference football matchup between Georgia and Lousiana State the past weekend. Both teams, ranked 10th and 6th by Associated Press, have national championship aspirations and needed every win they could get to stay apace of fellow SEC powerhouses Alabama, Texas A&M, and South Carolina, all of which have been fixtures in the AP top 10 since Week 2 of the 2013-2014 season.
In true Georgia style, the student section, called the "Spike Squad", came out in full force for Saturday's home game. The Spike Squad is usually seated at the front row of section 109 whenever Georgia plays at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. For the game against LSU, though, they had a more-than-welcome guest: men's basketball coach Mark Fox.
Fox, who is entering his fifth year as the Bulldogs' head coach, came in red body paint, hair higlighted in black and red, and silver spikes sticking out of his football padding. It looks like the Spike Squad's efforts were not in vain as the Bulldogs hacked out a thrilling 44-41 win over the visiting Tigers. Georgia went up to 6th in the AP poll, while Florida went down to 8th.
In the meantime, Fox's Bulldogs basketball team is not currently ranked, having finished 15-17 overall and 9-9 in SEC play in the 2012-2013 season. The team last made it to the NCAA tournament in 2010-2011 when they were defeated by Washington in a 65-68 heartbreaker. Fox is desperate to drum up support for his team after leading scorer Kentavious Caldwell-Pope left for the NBA during the summer and plans to spread the offense among a trio of incoming juniors. Only a few people, mostly from the media, attended the Bulldogs' first official practice session for the season, an event that is usually surrounded by hype at schools known better for basketball.
With these latest antics, Mark Fox officially joins an all-star roster of head coaches who have taken time off to cheer on their schools' other sports teams. Examples include ex-Tennessee head basketball coach Bruce Pearl, who has been seen painting himself orange for women's basketball games.