Daily Archives: January 8, 2018

The inevitable national title game day post

It’s weird.  The only issue I’m consumed with angst about is how easily I’m getting in the stadium.  The prospects of the game itself haven’t tied my stomach in knots.  My head and heart haven’t been doing battle today as they have over much of the season.

Maybe that’s because I’m still on a Rose Bowl high. (Every time I watch the replay of Sony’s run to end the game, I’m reminded of how similar the way I felt when I saw it live was to the way I felt watching Robert Edward’s cathartic touchdown run in the 1997 Georgia-Florida game.  Woo!)

More likely it goes back to the feeling I’ve had ever since Georgia eviscerated Auburn in the SECCG, that feeling that I’m playing with house money.  It’s crazy to process how far this program has come in such a short time — if you for some strange reason don’t believe that, go back and read this post of mine from October, 2016 to put what’s happened this season in perspective — and what that says about where it’s going.  I’ve already gotten way more out of 2017 and the first week of 2018 than I expected before this season got underway. So whatever happens tonight is cool with me.

Okay, that’s not totally true.

No, it’s not that I expect a Georgia win and will be disappointed with the second loss of the season.  If I’m honest about the title game, my head thinks that you can’t go against a Saban team that knows what to do in a momentous game like tonight’s and my heart isn’t really putting up much of an argument in response.

However, believe it or not, that isn’t the main thing I’m hoping for when I watch.  What I really want is to feel that same flash, that same instant realization that hit me midway through the 2002 Georgia-Florida game, when it suddenly struck me that for the first time in over a decade, Georgia belonged on the same field with the Gators as equals.  Don’t get me wrong; the loss was disappointing, but it was such in a very different way than I’d been used to for so many years.

Alabama has been college football’s gold standard for a decade now and, even in the wake of the 2012 heavyweight match that was the SECCG, no one has looked at the Dawgs as being on equal footing with Saban’s teams since the disastrous 2008 blackout meeting between the two programs.  That’s the thunderbolt I want to be hit with tonight.  Give me a true sense that a new sheriff’s in town and even if Georgia walks out on the short end of a field goal difference (which happens to be my prediction, by the way), I’ll feel elated in a way I haven’t felt in many a year.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but if Athens has turned elite in less than two years, I can handle that.  At least I think I’d like to try.

As always, feel free to jump in with your thoughts in the comments.  I’ll see you guys and gals on the other side.

222 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

A little something unexpected

Matt Hinton, in his national title game preview, alerted me to something I somehow missed.  He linked to this piece that laid out Pro Football Focus’ grades of Georgia’s Rose Bowl player performances.  The stunning part?  This:

1. RG Ben Cleveland: 83.9 (64 snaps, No. 1 among OG in CFB Playoff)

2. LT Isaiah Wynn: 83.5 (64 snaps, No. 1 among OT in CFB Playoff)

6. C Lamont Gaillard: 79.7 (64 snaps, No. 1 among C in CFB Playoff)

7. RT Andrew Thomas: 78.4 (64 snaps, No. 2 among OT in CFB Playoff)

[Emphasis added.]

Basically, Pittman’s group turned in the best offensive line performance of the semi-finals.  That’s remarkable.

Let’s just hope they’ve got a lather, rinse, repeat in them for tonight.

21 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Can’t stop talking.

By the way, I did a Rose Bowl follow-up podcast with Derek over at The DawgCast.  If you’re interested, click here to listen to #454.

2 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Let the Big Dawg eat spicy chicken.

Let me go on record categorically stating that any team favoring Zaxby’s over Popeye’s deserves to lose.

39 Comments

Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football

“Alabama poised for a blowout against Georgia in championship”

Despite ranking the player matchups a 4-4 split, that’s the opinion of an Al.com writer who sees this outcome:

71 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules

Kirby’s preseason to-do list

Damn, if this ain’t impressive.

Way back on July 31 when Georgia began preseason practices for Smart’s second season he didn’t talk publicly about getting to this position.

His goals were more specific:

—Improving special teams. Check. Rodrigo Blankenship is 17 of 20 on field goals. Grad transfer Cameron Nizielak is booming punts at nearly 45 yards per kick. Mecole Hardman is a threat as a returner.

—Being more efficient throwing the ball. Check. True freshman Jake Fromm is tops in the SEC and fourth in the nation in pass efficiency.

—Finding answers on the offensive line. Check. The Bulldogs have found stability up front with a group that has paved the way for a team that is eighth in the nation in rushing at 267.4 yards per game.

—Red zone offense and red zone defense. Check and check. The Bulldogs are fourth in scoring inside the 20 nationally and 34th in red zone defense, up from 113th a year ago.

I know I’m repeating myself, but what a relief it is to see major issues like those successfully addressed without seeing new holes open in the dike.

20 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Senior class

There are a lot of kids suiting up tonight for their last game in a Georgia uniform.

Besides the ones who could have left, but stayed and made a huge impact on the field and the ones who never thought about leaving in the first place, I think of Brice Ramsey, who took a lot of crap from the fan base, weighed an opportunity to transfer, and in the end elected to stay out of his love for the school and the program.  Every single one of those seniors has made a contribution in one form or fashion to a season we’ll remember as a remarkable turning point in the recent history of Georgia football.

I appreciate ’em all.  Win, lose or draw tonight, they’re damned good Dawgs.

26 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Random Monday morning question

If two SEC teams play for a title in a game not called by Uncle Verne and Gary, does it still count?

The least ESPN could do would be to play that before the start of tonight’s game.

6 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

“The whole world is making money Monday night. Everybody.”

Dan Wolken wonders if we’re crossing into new territory with the first $2 million assistant coach.

But with $2 million now becoming the new norm for top assistants, a rubicon has been crossed. When I pulled SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey aside Saturday at media day for the championship game to get his reaction, he largely agreed that it felt like a significant moment in the same way it did when college football had its first $1 million head coach, its first $2 million head coach, its first $5 million coach and so on.

While Sankey professed the expected interest and typical concern for what those escalating salaries mean, he believes the market eventually will reach a limit, which is an odd thing to say considering it has never happened in the history of college sports.

“There is an end,” Sankey said. “There is.”

Eh, I dunno.  On one level, this sure seems like something that will shock the conscience for about as long as the first $2 million head coaching salary did.  Which is to say, not very.  Then again, I have to grudgingly admit there might be something to this line of thought:

At least when you’re paying Nick Saban $11 million or Dabo Swinney $8.5 million or Urban Meyer $6.4 million, schools can tie that cost directly to the image of the university. The numbers may be obscene, but there’s no argument to be made against their value as championship-winning football coaches in all facets of running the school. Alabama is a better university academically because Saban’s championships have helped attract talent in every department from chemistry to social sciences; Clemson’s campus and its student body have been enhanced because people saw Swinney’s product on television and thought that might be cool to be part of.

But when you start defending coordinators making upwards of $2 million a year as an integral tie to higher education or having value to a university that extends beyond the reach of football, you’re just not telling the truth, particularly while players are told that accepting anything beyond the value of their scholarships is anathema to the sacred rules of amateurism.

Maybe the NCAA model always had been indefensible, but it feels like it’s being flaunted in a way that no intelligent person can rationalize any longer, and it’s being done in college football for a group largely composed of wealthy, white men clinging to an ideal the public no longer has a strong belief in.

Of course, in the end, I’m sure the geniuses running college football will have all the answers.  Aren’t you?

13 Comments

Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

“The atmosphere is just different in Athens.”

One neat consequence of Georgia football being nationally relevant again after a long hibernation is that we in the fan base get to explain ourselves to an outside world willing to pay attention to us.

3 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football