Changing the Story

BIG HAIRY BLAWG will be a weekly (Thursday) football column by #HanVance throughout the 2014 season.

Rare for a national championship winning defensive (or offensive) coordinator to win it all and immediately take a lateral move – I don’t recall that ever happening before. Quite the coup Mark Richt and UGA Athletics orchestrated by pulling Jeremy Pruitt from FSU after one perfect season in the Sunshine State. His previous three seasons were spent coaching the BAMA secondary, the last two of which resulted in national championships.

He 3-peated. Saban, no. Kirby, no. BAMA was revealed to be no more dynastic than Nebraska mid-1990s. Several indicators would say they were actually much less so, especially the fact that they won only one SEC West title in the past four years and that lone divisional champ came within a single bad UGA play of losing the SEC. Or the fact that they are on a current two-game losing streak and beat only one team (LSU) with 10 or more victories this year. Keeping up with Ohio State, you could say.

Georgia was a big national story from the moment Murray led the boys down the field and came a last second play away from wiping the field with an overmatched Notre Dame, all the way through losing on a late miraculously bad fluke of a play on the Plains of Auburn. What we don’t want to be is not the story. That isn’t a program aspiration. Let’s make good news.

ESPN, the magazine, did an NCAA football season recap issue leading up to the big game in the desert, where FSU finally eclipsed the SEC by copycatting it. That’s another story, and Pruitt is only one example, but I want to stick to where the Dawgs are and should be, the way I stick with our program through thick and thin, lose or win. Grantham never felt like one of us to me. My advice to Jeremy Pruitt if I were in a position to give it would be to really be a Dawg, first, and a coach second. Grantham was a schemer.

This particular issue had two full articles on games we lost (Clemson/Auburn) and an interview of Richt on facing Auburn. Three UGA articles, none of which were on us winning. In the biggest national wins of each week, Georgia was featured in four of twelve regular season weeks (all big game losses to teams nicknamed the Tigers, BTW) and even had the biggest national win in week 2, over South Carolina (11 wins). Throw in a win the next week in Athens over LSU (10 wins) which didn’t make the magazine profile and the nearly weekly story of Aaron Murray owning every major QB record in SEC history. We were news.

Bad news mostly, injuries, tough losses, bad breaks, lapses in execution and coaching…

A new era began as FSU scored the final BCS touchdown ever, a game-winning pass over the worst passing D in the SEC as the clock struck midnight on our lucky western rivals. The conference had won 7 straight titles and the state of Alabama had claimed 4 consecutive. It’s over. They didn’t get to 5 and our great league was thwarted in trying to get to 8.

Dawn of the Dawg! Win the SEC East, win the SEC, get in the Top 4, win it all. Perfection is no longer a requirement for a national championship. And it is much less left to plain luck.

The SEC championship in 2005 is pretty far in the rearview and while we have had two exceptional non-championship years and some other fairly strong campaigns, we can’t be going ten years between conference championships at GEORGIA. Period!

I’m optimistic based on three major points: 1. Todd Gurley; 2. Receivers; 3. Pruitt

Big Hairy Blawg now has a Facebook group by the same name. Please follow Han Vance on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hanvance and catch me live on The Sports Joc Show, when there is SEC football to talk – www.thesportsjoc.com – Wayne Gandy and I will also be back for a second season of Sports Joc College Football Pre-View starting in August.

National Signing Day is Feb 5th. G-Day Game is April 12th. NFL Draft is May 8th-10th.