Championships Speak

Championships Speak

Han Vance on Georgia football: Man, I miss my Georgia game day friends. Feature photo of Face and I at his place in Athens. There is no real and true to the South on-campus tailgating at all this season in the Classic City, outside of near your car in a parking lot.

More negative: Nothing I’m more tired of in the whole blowhard sports’ realm than fluff pieces on head coach Kirby Smart, clearly written by and for Georgia fans.

While his national reputation is increasingly for personally blowing the ultimately biggest games and taking number one or near there recruiting classes and then not winning at the highest levels with them.

Plus, failing to keep and/or develop top quarterback talent while he has had: Jacob Eason (five-star Mark Richt recruit who stuck with UGA out of high school), Jake Fromm (school’s completion percentage record holder is deep on the bench in Buffalo after falling draft stock, should have stayed), Justin Fields (five-star who scored 51 touchdowns last year and started the #WeWantToPlay movement at national championship favorite Ohio State) and Jamie Newman (top grad transfer for 2020).

LSU had 14 guys drafted this year, without such heralded recruiting classes. Bama had a record go in the first round and has three of the five top guys projected for the next NFL draft.

Kirby ranked higher than both in total recruiting over the last three seasons but must show it on the field in the postseason, to go from just good to truly great. He has to win it all.

Party Like It’s 1980!

Show me the draft picks, too. Losing two huge offensive tackles in the first round off an underperforming offensive line is not impressing me all that much. And, Kirby is 0-4 versus these two prominent SEC West schools, blowing two games to Bama played in-state, getting blown out at LSU and in ATL by the Bengals. We can’t play Auburn every week.

For the first time in school history, Georgia had three consecutive 11-1 regular seasons. UGA resoundingly underperformed in the postseasons thereafter and looked poorly head coached at key times in doing so.

Just the facts, y’all.

Going 2-1 after the 2017 season but blowing a big lead and national championship, while ultimately wasting the efforts of the top rushing duo in long NCAA history (151 years now and thankfully still counting). We’d played football since 1892 but will never see a pair like Nick Chubb and Sony Michel again. Michel was underused overall in his time at UGA, I always felt, still finishing as the school’s #3 all-time rusher. His classmate Chubb is #2 on the school and SEC rushing list. Their senior season ended with them crying, seated in the end zone, after the Richt recruits returned for a senior season run together.

Two of those three 2017 season postseason games were also played in the state of Georgia, with Kirby getting the school’s first SEC title since 2005 in an ATL rematch with an injury-depleted Auburn, who had blown him out on the plains. With their running game diminished, and Georgia not only having the dynamic duo but also having true frosh D’Andre Swift, who popped the key long TD run, it was too much RB talent that day and too long in the making for Georgia. We also had Richt recruits Roquan Smith (school’s only Butkus Award) and Deandre Baker (school’s only Jim Thorpe Award), so we were loaded. I called for a Natty in preseason.

Georgia was extremely fortunate to win the Rose Bowl in the first round of the CFP, in double overtime, after coming out unprepared on defense.

Then heartbreak city here we come. Georgia fans blamed the refs, and while they were infamously bad it’s true, you have to overcome. It’s hard to blow a late lead like that and Bama missed a would-be winning kick, to give UGA yet another chance to claim glory. Glory me.

The 2018 season’s postseason saw the single worst call in the history of college football, in my opinion. In Atlanta versus Alabama, again. The 4th and 11 fake punt at midfield in a tie game butt-clenching which I’ll never forget for its sheer stupidity – “sneaking” giant QB Justin Fields in and not just calling a time out to abort mission when Bama, of course, stayed in their base defense – and won’t forgive until we have an new Natty.

Then on the first night of the new year, I was with the cool Emerald Coast alumni group – my dude Bill Poteet affable leader – in Panama City, Florida, as the Texas Longhorns upset an unprepared to a man, overhyped UGA in the sUGAr. Born in Austin, Texas (1970), I didn’t enjoy that. First a beefy Bevo tried to crush cute Uga, then Georgia came out flatter than the Mississippi River on a calm day.

Fields was soon gone but the future looked bright. Texas was not back, by the way, falling flat on their weather-worn faces immediately.

The 2019 regular season came to a close with Georgia 11-1 again and having the best defense in the country in terms of yardage and points allowed. Georgia was playing in-state and lost by 27. Consistently blowing the advantage of being the only SEC school who gets to play the SECCG in their home state, Kirby fell to 1-2 (UGA is 3-5) in the SECCG.

He had matched the longest postseason losing streak in school history.

I called the Baylor sUGAr Bowl a must-win for the reasons I just mentioned, and Kirby actually took time out of his busy recruiting schedule – UGA would later finish number one there for the second time in just three years – to get the team ready to play. Dawgs win.

There was a whole lot of Pollyanna back patting going on between the end of that second overtime in Pasadena, I was there, man, and our NOLA trip 2. Georgia played 2-of-3 in Atlanta after 2017, 1-of-2 in Atlanta in each of the postseasons after the 2018 and 2019 regular seasons. You have to win your state, Dawgs. I don’t mean Georgia Tech.

Georgia and rival Tennessee are tied for the second-most SEC championships with 13 apiece, while our Week 4 opponent, who we could have already played under the previous 2020 schedule says they have won 17 Nattys, at least 10 of which are all the way legit.

Kirby was the replacement for Mark Richt when Richt couldn’t get over the hump. Richt won two SEC titles in his first five seasons and would have made the CFP, if it had existed as it now does, four or five times in his 15 years in Athens. Do I like beating Florida? Sure.

But this is Kirby’s fifth campaign. And 2017 feels so long ago…