But fuck it, by the time you see this, I’ll be on the road headed to Charlotte and it’s the way to express in the moment how my heart embraces this stupid, silly, wonderful sport that, even with all the baggage attached to it these days, still tugs at my passions.
Thank you, Georgia football and college football, for making me feel this way.
… Virtually anything I wrote this offseason included something about how fascinating Georgia’s prospects are in 2021. Bulldog fans are tired of hearing it and I’m tired of writing it. So it’s great that Georgia begins the season in one of the biggest games of the year.
While this game isn’t a must-win for the Dawgs when it comes to the national title race — a theoretical 12-1 UGA squad would still have wins over Florida and the SEC West champion (probably Alabama) on its résumé and would likely get into the College Football Playoff — it’s a chance to answer a lot of questions. Was what we saw from Daniels in a small sample late in 2020 what we’ll see over a larger sample? Does a banged-up receiving corps have the requisite firepower? Is a remodeled secondary going to be an issue?
Mind you, the stakes could be even higher for Clemson than for Kirby Smart’s Dawgs. No other opponent on the Tigers’ 2021 schedule ranks higher than 40th in SP+, and even if an opponent or two were to overachieve projections, Clemson will still end up with one of the weakest schedules of any power conference team. It needs to take advantage of this quality win opportunity more than UGA does.
As Saban goes for his seventh national and eighth SEC title at Alabama, it is worth asking: Which other SEC teams have felt the Tide’s wrath most acutely since the head man took over? And which have managed to get by with the least Bama-related damage? If you asked five SEC fans, you might get five different answers to each question, and all five would sound reasonable enough. So, let’s try to quantify Bama’s effect on each team with a new metric created just for that purpose: Beaten At Saban’s Hands, or BASH. The lower the BASH score, the lower a school’s fortunes have sunk while living in Saban’s world.
BASH has two components: win/loss records and average recruiting ranking. The first is a team’s net record against Saban: wins minus losses. A win or loss in the SEC Championship Game is worth an additional 3 points in either direction, while a result in a BCS or College Football Playoff game is worth an extra 5. (As it happens, the latter are all losses for Bama’s SEC opponents. Go figure.) If a team is 0-14 against Saban with all regular-season losses, it loses 14 points in this area of BASH. The second element is the difference between a school’s average recruiting ranking in the SEC from 2002 to 2006, the five years before Saban’s arrival, and 2007 to 2021. So, if a team averaged the SEC’s No. 2 signing class from ’02 to ’06 and dropped to No. 6 from ’07 to ’21, it loses 4 BASH points.
Seriously, this is the statistical rebuttal to all the “if not now, when” crap thrown Georgia’s way. Over the past decade, the difference between this program and the ones who make the BCS/CFP is that Georgia plays Alabama before they do. That doesn’t mean Georgia has a hump to get over; clearly it does. But it’s also clear that Saban has had an oversized impact on Georgia’s playoff record (or, more accurately, it’s lack of one).
By the way, on a totally unrelated point, does anyone seriously think Bryan Harsin is going to match Malzahn’s track record against Saban? Money well spent, Aubie.
Supposedly things are moving fast enough that he’s already met with Houston. And, yes, it’s impossible to ignore the irony of a league whining about being raided turning right around to do the same thing to shore up itself.
The $64000 question, of course, is will that do the trick. Color me skeptical. The Big 12 is losing Sagarin’s number two and number ten rated teams and attempting to replace them with numbers 23, 34, 65 and 95. How much does Bowlsby figure that’s gonna impress the selection committee?
To put it another way, Bob Bowlsby may not be saying it out loud at the moment, but he’s firmly on the 12-team playoff train.
The crushing disappointment that awaits us at the end of every year is only possible because of the hope we have so joylessly cultivated over the offseason.
Based on that statement, do you think this person is a fan of …
A) A doomed team about to embark on another 4-8 campaign.
B) A middle-of-the-pack team that fans are cautiously hopeful will overachieve this season.
C) A team that should contend for the national title.
Did that statement came from a Nebraska fan either before or after the Cornhuskers’ Week 0 loss to Illinois? No. But that would be an excellent guess.
Did it come from an Arizona State fan who spent the offseason talking themselves into a Pac-12 title only to consider the potential pitfalls as the season draws near? No. But that would make sense.
That statement was typed by Lance. Lance is a Georgia fan. And his “crushing disappointment” would delight fans of the two schools I just mentioned. Lance’s idea of a terrible year is Georgia going 11-1 and winning the SEC East but losing in Atlanta and getting shut out of the College Football Playoff again.
Lance is us. Not that we can ever quit Georgia football.
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