Will Friend, the man tasked with leading Georgia's offensive line against Alabama in the SEC Championship, will have plenty of familiarity with the Bulldogs' opponent on Saturday. The second-year coach attended college in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and was a four-year starter for the Tide from 1993-96.
"I can't believe you all are asking about a bad player 20 years ago," Friend told The (Macon) Telegraph. "You've got all these good players playing in a game in four days and you're asking about a bad one 20 years ago."
Friend was being modest. As a member of the Tide, Friend earned All-SEC honors twice and helped lead Alabama to the SEC West title on three separate occasions and berths in the Gator, Citrus and Outback bowls. He was also named to Alabama's team of decades for the 1990s.
Friend grew up roughly 90 minutes away from Tuscaloosa, and some of his childhood friends have texted him this week saying they're torn between who to root for between their hometown team or their childhood friend now coaching the enemy.
"I told him, hey man it's hard to believe you'd go for Alabama over me, as much as we've gone through together," Friend told The Telegraph. "It was great times there, but we're about winning for Georgia Saturday."
At Alabama, Friend was coached by Gene Stallings and Neil Callaway, who offered Friend his first coaching job as offensive line coach at UAB. Friend joined the staff at Georgia before the start of last season after four years at UAB.