A Tale of Three Seasons
We should’ve never done Coach Richt like that, y’all. Dawg-Nation, shame on us for doubting him so, I could say, just like he could gloat and say I told you so, I knew I was a good football coach and that was just a hiccup on the path to glory through righteousness.
We all fall. Or fumble. Or miss an assignment. Or make the wrong call. Or trust the wrong people and then get let down by them. Or straight up fail. Or endure seasons of hardship.
That man went from hottest of hot seats, desperately needing to get a road win at a down Ole Miss to have any chance at redemption, O-2 and coming of his worst year, ever…to five yards from competing for the ultimate college prize in less than two football seasons.
He has coached in the Classic City a dozen years and is two games shy of winning an average of ten games per year. And you know what, he is currently up-trending after having won 12 after 10, after a season that must be considered an anomaly when you look at his body of work.
Three seasons ago at this time we knew we had a new defensive coordinator and a new defensive scheme and a new QB and somehow didn’t think that would cost us too many games, mainly because A.J. Green was the greatest thing since sliced bread. We knew Caleb King and Washaun Ealey were talented runners. And we knew Richt had a plan. The defense gave it up late at home to an emerging Arkansas. Those runners had bad attitudes and totally crapped out. A.J. sold a shirt and sat out until the season was essentially a lost one. Yet, we were a play away at Jacksonville from losing only to Cam Newton led Auburn over the back half of that regular season. We were not good enough to beat Auburn that year, obviously, but he coached ’em up.
Then the bowl meltdown happened, followed by the 0-2 start to the next season. Hot seat. The bowl game seemed a culmination of all that was flawed in the UGA program. And 0-2 was no way to rebound and is just unacceptable at Georgia. (NEWSFLASH: It could happen this year!)
It seemed shocking that Boise State was point blank better than us, but they only did to us what they had done to Oklahoma, to an undefeated TCU in a BCS game, to Oregon twice. No major BCS program beat them at all during that run, though they did drop an occasional close conference game when they were flat.
We weren’t flat as I sat in Sanford Stadium the next week. We played well but the game was flukey and Carolina and Clowney were emerging from the longest slumber of any power in SEC history. After winning the East and then following it up with back-to-back 11-win seasons, they are a legitimate national title contender this year, though they’ve never won the SEC.
We have steadily risen from that 0-2 mark ourselves. We had to learn how to beat Florida again. We had to learn how to take the SEC East again. We had to learn how to beat Florida back-to-back. We had to learn how to repeat as divisional champs. We had to learn how to win all our home games. We had to learn play a whole game – not a half – in the SEC championship game. We had to learn how to win a bowl game again. And now we have learned those lessons.
Anything less than a BCS game would basically be a bust this season. But it is okay to think of more. A return to Atlanta is not and should not be stated as our goal as a program. We could get blown out at Clemson and maybe even be 0-2 again and do that. We want those SEC rings. And the SEC champ will probably play for it all.