Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"What Georgia SHOULD be..."

I'm getting increasingly tired of reading about what people believe Georgia Football SHOULD look like. This is a fanbase that is unduly arrogant, and who would cut loose a very good coach simply for the promise of "Change." What these fans are neglecting to realize is that often times, coaching changes prove to be unmitigated disasters. When you go from a crap coach to a decent coach, you are quick to heft praise onto the decent coach. When you go from a decent coach to a great coach, you elevate that coach to a level of expectation which NO COACH can maintain year in and year out for any period of longevity. This is what has happened at UGA. There is not a coach in the history of college football who maintained dominance for decades, not even the greats like Paterno, Bowden and Bryant did that. They had runs. They had ups. They had downs. That is the cycle that is football. What they also had were administrations who were willing to keep them around through the tough times, because they understood that titles are rewards, not measuring sticks. You don't fire a proven winner simply because of a down period.

When Richt arrived in 2001, I knew nothing about him. I had just finished my fourth year at UGA, and had enjoyed my final game as a bulldog out in Hawaii. I met in January. After one conversation with him, I thought hard about staying in school for one more year, earning a second Bachelor's degree, and playing football for him. I knew he was a quality coach. In his second season, he went 13-1 and won the SEC. In 2003, Saban's Tigers beat UGA in the SECCG, and went on to win the national title. I thought we'd see UGA and LSU at the top of their respective divisions for years to come. We did not.

Both teams have been up and down over the years since then - such is the nature of football.

Some fans believe UGA should be in the talks for National Titles every year, and should be competing in Atlanta every year, if not, every other year. They also believe that UGA should NEVER get beat by South Carolina, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Ole Miss, etc. These people are idiots. There is no other way to say it. And, I'm no apologetic if you count yourself among them. You are an idiot. If your belief is that the only teams UGA has any "right" to lose to include and ARE limited to FL, TN, AL, AU and LSU, then you do Georgia, and the SEC for that matter, a serious disservice. This conference is what it is because it is highly competitive from top to bottom. No team is going to own the conference year-in and year-out.

Before the 2010 season began, people asked "Can anyone unseat AL?" and "Is there anyone who can rise to the level of AL and FL?" It was commonly assumed that no teams in the SEC had the rosters, coaches, or wherewithall to defeat these two "perennial powers." Well, here we are at the end of the season and neither of those teams will play for the SEC title.

The old days are gone, kids. Don't expect ANY team in this conference to ride five and six year spans of outright dominance. There are simply too many good athletes being spread among the schools. FL's roster is dominated by 5-star players. UGA's is not. Yet, Georgia was an interception away from possible victory in that game. Should Georgia compete for the east most years? Yes. And we do. In 2009, no, we weren't close. In 2008, we were a victory against FL from being there (of course, that game was never close). In 2007, if any one of five different games (UGAvUSC, UGAvTN, TNvKY, TNvVandy, TNvUSC) turned out differently, UGA would have played in the SECCG and likely the BCS title game.

The fact is UGA HAS been in competition for the East (East Co-Champs 2007), we just haven't won it since 2005. Even in a crap season like this, we were a win away from sliding in under the radar. The team wasn't good enough to do that this season, and it's been a true rebuilding year.

What probably gets me the most is the over-arching idea that Georgia has some kind of "birthright" to be a top-rated team. How did we become so ignorant of the college football landscape? Is this noise coming from people who are still living in the early 1980's? For three years, we were a dominant program. After Herschel, we weren't. Then we were a losing program. Then we were a middle-of-the-road program. Then came Richt, who elevated the program back to Championship level. Now he's hit a rough patch, as happens in all good coaching careers (Dooley and Butts, the two standards of Georgia coaching prior to CMR, both went through them); but, Richt's team this season is stronger than the year prior. Unfortunately for him, so is his competition.

And that's the other part of the equation that everyone seems so quick to forget. Last year, Georgia lost badly to less-than stellar football teams. With the exception of Colorado, we have dominated every "lesser" team we've faced. We also have run up against five top-25 programs who have been able to pull out victories against us in the final quarter. That hurts, but it shows that in a year with a new defense, a young quarterback, and a struggling running game, we're still hanging in with some of the top teams in the country.

THAT is what Georgia SHOULD be. Georgia should be a team that is going to be able to compete with anyone, anywhere. Until now, we haven't seen a UGA team like that since 2007, and even then we were beat solidly by Alabama. Georgia SHOULD be a team that is entertaining to watch. We should be having slugfests with our rivals, and we should be blowing out lesser competition. This is what 2010 gave you. We lost more games than we should be happy with, but it was quite a ride. It will be better in 2011.

Go Dawgs


CT said...

AMEN......never seen a fan base that deals more in revisionist history than ours.....it boggles the mind, really.

Well said and again I say Amen!

Andy Coleman said...

I suppose most fan bases get carried away from time to time. We just pay a lot closer attention to ours. Richt will get it going again next year, and we'll laugh about 6-6. Wishful thinking never hurt anyone!

Todd said...

If Richt is fired, he'll be the most sought-after coach in the country. That's saying something. Dawg fans be careful what you wish for.

Unknown said...

I agree totally...I hope Mark Bradley reads this. He seems to stir up a lot of crap.

Bman said...

AMEN-Every time I hear Georgia is to good to have another 10-3 season (You know you've heard it.) I keep thinking, how many Natty's have we won in the last 50 years? 100? We are a great football team with a great tradition but don't expect a Natty ever couple of years. SEC champoinships? 12 since 1933. I'm a lifetime Bulldog but I understand that this program is as good or better than it ever has been and that sometimes you need a little luck and a little time for glory.

j.leonardjr said...

Great blog post! People seem to forget what Bama was a short time ago. People also seem to over look that Florida and LSU won BCS Championships with identical records to Georgia. Luck plays a huge part in that. All Richt can really do is win the SEC and hope it is a year where that gets you in the BCSCG.