The Unbearable Weight of Crystal
Han Vance on Georgia football: The near-disappearance of Georgia football from the epic, amazing doc series “Saturdays in the South” in the 2000s shows how skewed perception has become in the South, because of the current successes of one powerful man. We must beat him!
Ol’ Georgia had not won the SEC since 1980, 1981, 1982 and – considered a sleeping giant – had arguably the single best decade of any SEC football program at the turn of the double millennium. One crystal clear goal remained unclaimed, though.
I bring this up because, as we sit here, alum Kirby Smart is in jeopardy of this type of seeming relative irrelevance. At this stage of their careers as head coaches, each Coach Smart and Coach Richt had the exact same number of wins, after being excellent coordinators on opposite sides of the ball for multiple national championship winning coaches: Bobby Bowden (2) and Nick Saban.
In fact, Kirby now has two additional losses compared to Richt, and therefore has factually had a slightly cooler start, although the College Football Playoff being in existence greatly benefited his perceived optics one year, his second at the helm. Each had won the SEC East twice after a slower first year, the whole SEC once their second year. Each had one 13-win team. Each stood at 5-1 in year four…Richt won it again, once, in 2005. David Pollack leaving school the year prior as the most-decorated defender in UGA history and his lifelong friend David Greene leaving school as the then all-time winningest quarterback in NCAA history in terms of total wins, got no mentions, at all.
The primary difference outside of the CFP angle, in my mind, was that Kirby inherited an annual 10-win team; Richt inherited an annual eight-win team with major character flaws. I’m simply not seeing the big picture progress yet compared to the early, good-to-great, 2000s. Although the latter terms of Richt’s UGA 15-year career were definitely not quite as good, and he fell to 74% overall, while Kirby has the Bulldogs winning a school record 77%.
Neither percentage is all that amazing considering seasonal schedules. The East is easier now. When somebody gets fired for you to take their job, you definitely always will be compared to them.
Dooley won one. Fulmer won one. Spurrier won one.
Bear Bryant and yankee Saban and mastermind General Neyland – who straight up owned the Bear’s butt the whole time Neyalnd was not off being a higher up in the military – are the exceptions not the norms. Sure, Urban won two, with a plainly morally bankrupt program and one transcendent dude at quarterback. Tebow won one SEC as a starting quarterback and was a rarely playing backup on the first of Urban’s natty runs. Georgia appeared in the doc here, once, whole team dancing on the field, but the slant of the story was how Urban called timeouts and ran it up on us the next year. We were erased…
Head coach Mark Richt was essentially a play away from the national championship in 2002, losing a lone razor-close game to Florida in Jacksonville – I was there – and going 13-1. That team had the most wins in long school history (1785; first in the Deep South playing football, since 1892). They blew out Arkansas in Atlanta – I was there – in a game in which the Crimson Tide were ineligible to appear due to rampant, ongoing cheating.
Georgia was first mentioned on the doc at all, once before the Cocktail Party dance, as losing badly to LSU in Atlanta in 2003 – I was there – in the first of Nick Saban’s many, many national championship seasons. The Bulldogs and Bayou Bengals went back-and-forth throughout the decade as the SEC programs with the most wins and put the most kids in the NFL. Meanwhile, the run of seven straight SEC teams winning national championships rolled on, without Georgia, as the decade turned teens.
Saban had moved to the NFL (with Kirby) and totally failed. They went to BAMA. Are Kirby and Saban on a collision course again this year?
*If somebody cool wants to buy this amazing impressionist painting of Moreno for $300, I’ll be more than happy to part with it and mail it to you. Times are not so high for me, and I can really use the money for my Jacksonville trip, even though I have free tickets (from the super kind Hilley folks) and a free place to stay, in St. Marys, GEORGIA (with my old roomie Mike Helton). GO DAWGS!!!
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