College Football Rivalry Pits Grant Against Grant
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College Football Rivalry Pits Grant Against Grant

The Grant household consists of opposing fans from all four schools.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

The Grant household has avid fans of all four semifinal teams: Cincinnati, Alabama, Georgia, and Michigan.
The Grant household has avid fans of all four semifinal teams: Cincinnati, Alabama, Georgia, and Michigan.

As January approaches and the much-anticipated college football championship games come into view, fans must once again assess their loyalties and pick a side. With Cincinnati set to take on Alabama in the Cotton Bowl and the Georgia Bulldogs facing off against the Michigan Wolverines in the Orange Bowl, local CPA Adrian Grant and his wife Ilene find their household divided in spectacular fashion: split in four, that is, against itself.

Three of the Grant sons and a daughter-in-law are graduates of Georgia. Another daughter-in-law went to Michigan. The soft-spoken Adrian Grant, never a man known to brag, is a proud product of the University of Alabama. Oh, and Ilene got her undergraduate degree from Cincinnati.

Enter sports expert David Cohen, who conceived of this story. Cohen is a former TV sportscaster who became one of the very first play-by-play announcers on ESPN, followed by the NBA, the Mets, and all-sports radio WFAN in New York, before moving down to Atlanta to work for CNN. “The Grants were the first family we met when we moved to Georgia in 1994,” Cohen recalled. “Through B’nai Torah.” In 1995, he became the TV voice of the Yankees. (Cohen later worked with the Braves and Hawks on FOX Sports and WSB Radio before switching to voice-over and acting.)

The Grant boys were thrilled to learn that Cohen had been in the presence of Michael Jordan and had even called Bulls games. Adrian became Cohen’s accountant. As their sports connection grew, Cohen said, “Daily minyan attendance, where I often lead services, brought us together often. Adrian became a grandfather first and now our grandkids know each other.”

Cohen said, “As the Grants weigh in, the bluebloods of college football were forced to include Cincinnati in this year’s 4-team playoff after a 13-0 perfect season. Ilene, a math professor, and Adrian, an accountant, know something about numbers. Having just celebrated their 50th anniversary, they assessed the long odds to get here and longer odds for the Bearcats not to drown in the Crimson Tide?”

Ilene is confident in her Bearcats. “It’s very exciting, the first time my school’s ever been involved with Alabama, and we’re going to beat them. They (Cincinnati) have a great coach, who won Coach of the Year by one of the polls, and the quarterback’s real good!” Adrian puts his faith in one man: “Nick Saban … every year it’s Nick Saban … he’s the difference.”

Sons Sammy, Andy and Jonathan grew up fans of Alabama until they went to UGA. All are hoping to be at the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Eve as Georgia faces Michigan for the second time ever. Sammy’s wife, Tracie, from Greensboro, N.C., always wanted to be a Bulldog: “So I came from North Carolina and here I am. There’s a lot of North Carolina people coming down to Georgia.”

The most conflicted Grant would probably be Andy, who took his Georgia degree to Michigan for a master’s in accounting: “I’m pulling for the Dawgs,” he said. “At the end of the day, one of my teams will win. I’m just hoping it’s my home-state, Georgia. Yes, we did get the Braves in the World Series, but we’re tired of finishing second or saying, ‘there’s always next year.’” If Georgia wins, Andy wants another shot at Alabama.

Then there’s Andy’s wife, Dara Plasker, who was born and raised here but was not allowed to go to Georgia: “I have two parents who went to the University of Florida, and they said, ‘do whatever you want as long as you do not go to the University of Georgia.’”

There is a growing consensus among the six that someone else besides Alabama should win their first national title in a real game, not a poll. “All the Grant kids feel Zayde Adrian has enough championships. It’s time for mom to get her spotlight,” said the youngest son, Jonathan.

So, on New Year’s Eve, you can take one thing for granted: the Grants can’t lose!

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