One school has the top running back, wide receiver and quarterback in the long storied history of the most storied of all football subdivisions. And the man who would be our all-time SEC leading receiver lofts into the Jacksonville night air near the goal line very late in the tight game, an oh so rare PM Cocktail Party. UGA sits near the top of the national rankings, while the Mighty Gators are having an off year. My high school and college buddy Mike Reeves and I, in the stadium on the banks of the St. Johns River, rise to an impending ovation of excitement…and then just melt dejectedly as Terrence Edwards drops the David Greene pass. We say nothing for the next 15 minutes.
THE Ohio State University doesn’t get an SEC team to beat them in a bowl that season, instead getting their only recent ring by edging a strong Miami Hurricanes team for the title, while GEORGIA sees that lone loss cost us our shot at a first national title since 1980. I like UGA’s talent versus that Ohio State squad and like our chances in a what if game against the then-cheating program at Miami, because they were obviously prepared to go out and find a way to lose the championship.
We figured to be back, as it was only new head coach Mark Richt’s second season. That was ten years or so ago, as Richt has been in the Classic City for a dozen seasons. Jim Donnan, before him, had slipped to below the expectancy at GEORGIA, which is annual ten-win seasons, and had to be replaced. Coach Richt’s career record with the only team he has ever led now stands exactly two games below an average of ten wins per season (118-40), a mark which always remains near the statistical top of the season win average standings for active NCAA head football coaches. It is so much harder to win ten a year on average than you think.
So, JAX was the one loss I’d like to have had as a win…above all others except BAMA, the 90% wins over four seasons dynasty which could have been diverted. DAWGS had the ball near the throat kill line in Atlanta and came up just short.
Two more wins in big neutral site, razor close conference games and Mark Richt would have two national championship rings and be eternally undeniable. Instead Richt has three campaigns (the other was Moreno’s Black Out breakout with Stafford) where UGA easily finished in the Top 5 in the nation but no rings, save two aging SEC hunks of metal from his first five coaching campaigns.
Time to win big Between the Hedges, and in Jacksonville and then in Atlanta and beyond.