The Ghosts of UGA’s Past

As the great comedy writer Larry David says, “pretty…., pretty…., pretty good”, is exactly what most Georgia fans are feeling on this Tuesday before the Tennessee game. 

But not this Dawg fan.  In fact, I feel a great deal of anxiety for my beloved Bulldogs this week.  Yes of course I had a great time Saturday watching them thoroughly handle the bizzaro bulldogs from Mississippi.  You may even recall that I did predict this team to go 11 and 1, and so far I am looking much wiser than many thought only 4 weeks ago.  I still believe that record should be the eventual outcome of the season, but this Saturday the game in Knoxville truly has a chance to signify a drastic change in the football culture at UGA.  Most of you reading this should already understand why, but for those of you who don’t let me explain.

I was born almost three months after Georgia won its last national title in football.  Since then my life as a Dawg fan has been filled with great times, great friends, and great memories.  But it has also been filled with great disappointment.  And these great disappointments have come right after some of the really great memories.  That has sort of been the life of Georgia fans for the past 36 years or so.  Don’t get me wrong, I would not change being a Georgia man for any other team or school in the entire country.  I don’t want a degree from a different university, and I don’t want to live anywhere other than Athens.  Long and short, I am all in when it comes to the school and the state of Georgia.  I know this team is good, and I know the new coaching staff was brought here to change things for the better.  But I still have reason to worry.  I hate to be a “Negative Nancy” or a “Debbie Downer”, but allow me to remind you of a few big games followed by some tough losses from the ghosts of UGA’s past.

  • The first two games I have to lump together because I was so young. After rolling through the SEC in 1981 and 1982, Georgia lost two Sugar Bowls to two schools from Pennsylvania.  81’ to Pitt and 82’ to Penn State. Both games likely cost Georgia a national title.  Keep in mind these games were played after beating Florida, Auburn, and Tech to close out the season.  These games were heart breaking, but they are not examples of Georgia playing poorly.
  • The first big letdown game I can recall was Georgia vs. Auburn in 1997. Jim Donnan appeared to have Georgia over the hump with a 37-14 win over Florida.  The joy of that victory was short lived because Dameyune Craig and the Auburn Tigers beat Georgia solidly at Sanford Stadium in the very next game.
  • The next one came just a year later. Georgia went on the road to beat LSU with Quincy Carter in 1998.  Bulldog fans then dared to think their team would beat Tennessee the following weekend.  Well the joke was on us because the Bulldogs lost 22 to 3 in Sanford, and no one called Quincy Carter “ice water” ever again.
  • In 2004, Georgia dismantled the defending national champs, LSU, 45 to 16. We all felt great about ourselves.  Every fan was certain Georgia was on its way to the BCS.  But then Tennessee came to town the very next week with an upset win.  This one stung badly at the time.
  • Here is a list of other games in the last 15 years that hurt Georgia’s chances to have a special year: Florida 2002, Auburn 2005, Tenn. 2007, Bama 2008, Tech 2008, SCAR 2012 just to name a few. Trust me there are more.

So here is my point, this Tennessee game is the typical trap game.  Just about the time that the fan base starts to feel good, the team goes out and losses one they shouldn’t.  This has become a defining characteristic of Georgia Football for 20 years or more.  But here is an opportunity to change that perception with a win over Tennessee this Saturday.  I don’t care how they get it just as long as they win.  Have you also considered that Florida is already 2 and 0 in the SEC?  I know they don’t deserve to be, but regardless of a comically bad off season they are still 2 and 0.  If Georgia loses this weekend, they are already behind the 8 Ball in the SEC East. So in my opinion, the season starts Saturday in Knoxville, and Florida is already a win ahead of both Tennessee and Georgia.

So I hope all you Bulldog fans out there feeling “pretty good” about your team realize that nothing has been accomplished, and there is a long ways to go.  So don’t book a room in Atlanta just yet.  On the other hand, I think our head coach and new staff understand this all too well, and that should help the team keep their head out of the clouds this week.  All this being said, I am going to stand by my predictions for the year.  Dawgs win Saturday and the culture around the program improves a little more with each coming week.  Go Dawgs!

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A Message to Bulldog Fans in South Bend

Today is only Thursday, but it already feels less crowded here in Athens except for the Chick-Fil-A on Alps road of course.  I am trying to recall a game in my lifetime with as much excitement and fervor to make so many UGA fans travel as this week’s match up against Notre Dame.  Sure, there have been some big games here in Athens and Atlanta over the last 15 or so years.  LSU 2004, BAMA 2008 & 2012, along with some trips to the Georgia Dome come to mind.  However, I think you have to go back to 2002 when Georgia returned to the Sugar Bowl as the SEC Champion.  In 2002, Georgia fans were itching to get down to New Orleans to watch their Dawgs play Florida State.  I was one of them of course, and I had a blast even though it wasn’t that great of game.  If you recall, FSU that year was a little beat down, and an underdog to Georgia.  I think Anquan Boldin had to move from receiver to quarterback for that one game.  In the end, Georgia fans weren’t as excited about the match up in 2002 as they were about the trip.  And I worry that too many fans feel the same way about this trip to Notre Dame.

Granted, I have never been to South Bend, but I am pretty damn sure it is not equal to New Orleans.  Nevertheless, it does have appeal thanks to Notre Dame

Lou Holtz

and their football team.  There is not much reason for me to go into Notre Dame’s historic program.  Truth be told, I was not alive for much of their dominance.  I can recall Tony Rice, Rocket Ismail, and a kickoff return against Colorado while Lou Holtz spat on the sidelines with every word he shouted. (Suffering Succotash!)  To be very honest, most of what I remember of Notre Dame is Ron Powlus, Bob Davey, Tyron Willingham, and a dreadfully slow linebacker that believed he was dating a make believe girl on the internet.  None of these memories are good for Notre Dame by the way.   In the end, most people under 30 might be unaware of Notre Dame’s long history.  Sadly, the same can be said for UGA.  For many fans this is  for certain a big game .  But on the other hand, this is simply a fun trip for a lot of fans .  And yes it should be fun.  Fans can visit Chicago, see a Cub’s game, stare at Lake Michigan, eat deep dish pizza, and yes visit South Bend to watch Georgia play. I truly hope all of the Bulldogs enjoy the trip, but I also hope they know that this game means something.

I fully understand that this is NOT an SEC game, and a loss here doesn’t affect the standings in the SEC eastern division.  But do you know what a win in South Bend on Saturday night would mean?  It would mean a return to relevance.  That’s right Dawg fans. Georgia has not been relevant since 2012.  And they weren’t relevant in 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016 either.  Yikes!  The truth hurts.  Some of you may disagree with me on this point of view because you may define relevance differently.  For me, being relevant is defeating a Top 10 team or even winning a game as the underdog.  I know Georgia beat Auburn last year in Sanford, but that one doesn’t count for me.  I think the last big game Georgia won away from Sanford was Florida in 2012, and even that game was on a neutral field.  I could be wrong, but I think the last time Georgia had a big upset was 2006 against Auburn which was a 12 noon kick off on the plains.  Now I know that Notre Dame isn’t ranked in the Top 10, but the game airs at 8pm on NBC for all the world to see.  Georgia is currently the underdog, and if they can win this one then they are relevant at least for a few weeks anyway.  On the other hand, if they lose they could still have a great year.  But winning in South Bend at night with a freshman quarterback could make a statement for this team and coaching staff.  And that’s what they were hired to do here in Athens.  Winning this game could change the tune or narrative of Georgia Football from what it has been over the last 10 years.  So have fun up in South Bend and be sure to keep it classy.  But if you get into that stadium, scream your head off for your Bulldogs because this one is more than a vacation dawg fans.  Go Dawgs!

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