The unified theory

The national media loves Georgia, as we’ve seen with several publications and sites blessing the Dawgs with a preseason #1 ranking.  Yet the SEC media didn’t even see fit to anoint Georgia as the preseason favorite to win the SEC East.

Tony Barnhart gives us his theory as to why that’s happened here.  He lists five reasons (mind you, they’re not his thoughts personally, just his explanation for the disparity):

1. A lot of national media saw Georgia beat Hawaii-and fell in love.

2. The SEC media knows how tough this league really is.

3. The Tebow factor.

4. Florida’s SEC road schedule.

5. Gators will have mental edge.

Barnhart rightly dismissed the last item, but finds #2 and #4 compelling.  I don’t get the respect for the SEC media on this – it’s only gotten the conference champ right twice in the last fourteen years.  What makes its insight any better than the national media’s?

Judging from the preseason All-SEC teams, I think that #3 deserves more credence than he’s giving it.  Plenty of people are buying into the “even better Florida offense and the defense is bound to improve” line.

This is far from the last we’ll hear on this, but it’s the kind of debate that’s bound to keep Georgia in the minds of people nationally.  That’s a good thing – unless it can’t handle the pressure from the attention and pulls off an 8-4 season.  Then we’ll be hearing a very different narrative.

12 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

12 responses to “The unified theory

  1. chefboyardee

    How about “More reporters from Florida”? That’s the first thing I thought.

  2. Okay. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but it makes me nervous that we’ve been ranked pre-season #1 by several. I much prefer to be viewed as the underdawg. And the little bit of jawin’ and poor-mouthin’ going on the media about Georgia is a good thing.

    Why? Because often being at the top and consistently told how awesome you are by everyone in the media who has an opinion on college football makes you cocky and cocky equals sloppy performance come game time. Just showing up in a uniform to the delight of fans is not enough. Also, because everyone is gunning for you and at number one, there is no place to go but down.

    The reason I like being the underdawg is because underdawgs are scrappy…they’re Dooley’s Junkyard Dawgs. People tend to root for the underdawg. You can move your way up the polls slowly and steadily. Most importantly, your opponent often underestimates you.

    Yep, you can throw tomatoes at me if you wish, but all things being equal, I’d rather we had a nice comfortable pre-season #6 ranking and a bit of a chip on our shoulders and the attitude that we were going out to knock the block off everyone else’s shoulders. Then we could march our way steadily up the polls to wind up with a much preferred end of season #1 ranking and a big flippin’ National Champs trophy. The only other of those came when I was a student at UGA and believe me, it’s been far too long.

    So as far as I’m concerned, the media can just keep on talking up Tebow, Florida, Ohio State or whoever… and questioning Georgia’s ability and debating our worthiness to go undefeated through the 2008 schedule or win the SEC East. It just adds fuel to the fire and makes our boys more determined.

    Just sayin’

  3. Seconded. Wholeheartedly.

  4. RedCrake

    In most circumstances, I would definitely agree. However, lets look at a possible scenario.

    At the beginning of the season, USC #1, OhSt. #2, Okla. #3, UGA #6.

    USC and OhSt play so one of the two will have one loss.

    If USC, for instance, were to end up undefeated along with Oklahoma and Georgia, USC would possibly play Oklahoma for the MNC (I know the SEC is stronger and UGA has a great strength of schedule but for some reason the writers and coaches don’t like flip flopping their team rankings — unless its the last week of the season and two teams lose apparently).

    In this scenario, UGA losing one game would essentially be the end of the conversation (because keep in mind that several “journalists” have already begun talking up the Big 12 as the heir apparent to the SEC’s dominance).

    Conversely, if UGA were ranked preseason 1,2, or 3, and undefeated season would be a shoo-in and 1 loss might drop us 3 or 4 spots with a chance to still get it. Remember, I’m not saying this is how it should be, rather how it is. Many writers who get a vote want the final 2 to closely resemble their preseason rankings so they look smarter.

    I wish it didn’t have to be this way, because, I agree, underdog suits our team and what it takes for them to be fired up. Unfortunately, pre-season polls have played and continue to play far too much of a roll.

  5. RedCrake

    Pardon my typos by the way. I get sloppy when I’m passionate about something. I wouldn’t want to give our fine educational institution a bad name.

  6. RedCrake, you’re exactly right. This whole relishing the underdawg thing is fine if you’re 5-4 and going into Auburn. Georgia might not be #1, but they’re flying under no one’s radar this year and will be ranked high enough to draw everyone’s best effort.

    If you want Georgia to have the best chance it can have to play for the national title, you want them starting as high in the polls as possible.

    Besides – underdogs are underdogs for a reason. They’re supposed to lose and usually do. If people are OK with us starting out 5th or 6th this year, would they be as OK with us finishing there? Why is it a given that we’d move up?

    Embrace the ranking and the expectations. We have the team to back it up.

  7. You misread me.

    We’re not the Underdawg we’re the Top Dawg. But I want us to stay the Top Dawg and it seems to me that Georgia is best at achieving and maintaining that position when we don’t start at the very tippy top. And what does Auburn have to do with our place in the polls? Or what we can or cannot relish?

    I just don’t want to see the boys so eaten up with their own pre-season press that they think all they need to do is show up to win the game. I’ve seen it happen before and I’ve been watching Georgia ball since the late 1960′s.

    There is a happy medium between having something bad (like the losing streak to Florida) get in your head and mess things up. Or, having too much praise heaped upon you making you cocky. A nice sensible scrappy self (but not overly) confident team is what I want to see. And media talking heads who talk a little trash about Georgia always seems to get the boys motivated. Also, being a place or two lower in the polls than you KNOW you should be to start things off can only make you want to go out and prove all those journalistic SOBs wrong. And I say this with the utmost affection. I’m a journalist.

    I’m just opining that a little negative press keeps the juices flowing and the boys on their toes.

    Besides, I’m just wondering…how often does the pre-season number 1 actually wind up winning the national championship? Frankly, I could give a flying rat’s rear end where we are pre-season. My main interest is where we end up when all is said and done. It just seems historically, Georgia does better when they’re not buying too heavily into their own accolades.

    After all, look what happened to Michigan vs. Appalachian State last year. We all know how that turned out. I still think there are Wolverine fans just now checking out of the state mental health facility having finally recovered from the shock.

    I reside in the Wolverine State and let me tell you, the pre-season sports writers here was couldn’t heap enough praise on Chad Henne and the mighty UofM team. 2007 WAS supposed to be their year and they wound up 8-4. Not exactly the stellar year that was predicted though they did stomp some Gator butt on New Year’s Day. I personally think they got a little cocky and dropped the ball.

    I don’t want Georgia to drop the ball.

  8. Ooops. Typo in the next to last paragraph. It should read, “writers here couldn’t…”

  9. Jim

    We also know what happened at the Capital One Bowl where the mighty Tebow and Gators faced a slow bad Michigan Team. Florida, with their improved Team, will lose at least 3 SEC games this year. Tebow will not attain the statisitics he had last year. Every defense will be designed around the defenses he (and they) lost to last year. Even if the other team still loses, they will punish Tebow.

  10. Will

    I personally like being ranked #1 and lots of people saying we don’t deserve it. That way we have the ranking and a good reason to defend it.

  11. Greg

    The only journalists who are calling the Big 12 the heir apparent to the SEC are located in Big 12 country. Kansas and Missouri have 1 or 2 good years and now they are on par with UGA, UF, UT, LSU, Auburn and Bama…I don’t think so. Nebraska is still a long way from being a consistent contender again. Texas has struggled, relatively speaking, since Vince Young left Austin and Bob Stoops and OU have struggled in bowl games of late.

  12. dean

    From listening to CMR talk he’s taking the right approach to this #1 preseason talk. He’s making sure the guys understand that just because the media thinks so much of you doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed anything. I feel sure come Monday he and the other coaches will make sure the entire team understands they haven’t won anything yet.

    FWIW, I don’t think we’ll be #1 in the preseason polls that matter. I’m expecting anywhere from 3 to 5.