We Want Bama (Clemson, Ohio St, ND, Penn St)
Han Vance on Georgia football: WE WANT BAMA! The University of Georgia has the only football team in the world that legitimately wants to face the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’ll get into why today. Spoiler alert: it is not revenge.
Back in the 1946 season, a quite kind Georgia football legend I have met named Charley Trippi was robbed of his rightful due. A key member of the 1942 (split) national championship Bulldogs team who had gone off to fight Nazis in WWII, an American war hero like my grandfather (Paul Vance served in WWI and WWII), Mr. Trippi returned to his university in Athens and went undefeated as a senior. It was just like 1980. Except the Dawgs did not get the deserved national championship and Heisman Trophy.
The so-called Canines vs. Catholics sometime rivalry, which I coined in 2017, began, instead.
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National sentiment was for Army after the second great war, for obvious patriotism reasons, and there was a split national championship that season, of blemished teams. Always media darlings even in down years, the most popular team of both the American north (definitely!) and midwest (probably), the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were just 8-0-1 and the primary national champs, while Army went 9-0-1 and won a share of it behind a Heisman winner. (At the time, the AP Poll was just one of many and no more valued nationally than the bulk of them from what I have read, but as time has told, the media poll has had such longevity. All coaches and players come and go; writers and words linger longer.)
He was point blank not as good as Trippi, a do-everything SEC MVP. Charley, who wore #62 at UGA, was the number one overall NFL draft pick on a 10-0 team, relegated to the Maxwell Trophy. He won the Super Bowl the next year, before retiring as the man with the most total yards in NFL history. Trippi is up there in the pantheon of greatest football players ever and even Herschel has no legit claim over him at Georgia, except for football’s more widespread popularity and advancements and the (robbed) Heisman. Teammate Frank Sinkwich had won the Heisman back in 1942, when one-loss Ohio State got the primary nod over Georgia and sat out bowl season, while the one-loss Bulldogs went out West and won the Rose Bowl over UCLA. An underclassman, Trippi was game MVP. (We owe Ohio State another beating.)
Frank Sinkwich frankly said Trippi was better than him. By the way, Trippi lives.
Official Georgia archivist Mark Maxwell, who I met last Friday at his studio and the UGA Vault, said on the stellar documentary series “Saturdays in the South” that it was Georgia-fatigue to blame for this unfair ’46 slighting. My take: It was yankees, right after the fabled war effort. Think about it on a nation’s subliminal level, in a popularity contest. 10-0 and nothing for the South.
What does this have to do with the fastest-growing rivalry in all of sports: Georgia-Alabama?
Nested in the only empire state of the Deep South, the state of Georgia and UGA have a history of getting robbed of rightful shine in the national consciousness. The spotlight way down here goes to poor Alabama, a true old South notion in the minds of the country. It has for decades, while they had two great coaches dominating the media and television coverage. They are the story. Atlanta surely can’t ever be the media story unless it is one of derision. It is widely unknown that the University of Georgia is the birthplace of American public higher education, too. The well-educated Notre Dame folks said they had never heard that. Our fair university is a perennial bridesmaid and has been on the short end of popularity contests. Georgia is simply not a national brand like BAMA, any year.
So do not count on super-popular Notre Dame not getting the CFP votes over Georgia if it comes down to it. Notre Dame’s foes are national. ND plays a tougher schedule than Georgia most years, with the SEC East and old gold Georgia Tech both so historically down. Notre Dame’s only loss came in a nail biter on the road in a hostile environment against a top-tier team. Compare versus Chickens.
The CFP committee has shown an inability to value head-to-head wins enough and in no way highly values Power 5 conference championships. A Big 10 champion Penn State was left out for an Ohio State they just beat. And, Alabama has won the national championship twice without winning the SEC West, and they have NEVER been left out of the college football playoff. One-loss Power 5 champs have, repeatedly.
Saban won’t allow it, going to the TV for full days to lustily campaign as soon as they get eliminated from legit qualification in the, again, popularity contest. Never confused for media savvy, CEO Smart simply couldn’t handle that, actually plummeting in personal reputation and credibility with the national media last year by publicly campaigning and blame-placing after his SEC championship choke. He could have said, “I personally made one mistake but this is the best team in the country right now,” instead. Outside of the Georgia fishbowl, he did not play out well at all. He said, “Bama does not want us in the playoff.” Saban then said he wanted Georgia in the playoff.
Why? He has never lost to any former assistant. He knew he could beat Georgia because he just did it, and he was giving the league the nod as an (fake) ambassador. He cares about himself not the SEC. Clemson, conversely, blew him out 44-16. Oklahoma, the game prior, got off to a remarkably slow start and then visibly scared the crap out of him with an offensive explosion, covering the spread with a Heisman-led attack he could not stop.
He wanted Kirby. He definitely wanted Georgia.
The closest proximate major college to UGA, a few miles closer than former SEC member Georgia Tech, Clemson we want because they are a rival on the Piedmont who desperately need humbling. Georgia is 6-1 in the last seven games versus Clemmy, misses the quality wins. The only doggone loss was an onside kick from a win, 38-35 there. The last meeting, young Nick Chubb buried them late in a 24-point win in the Classic City. Georgia is 42-18-4 overall, with eight of Clemson’s wins coming before 1909. Conversely, Georgia has 10 wins in the series since 1980. Plus, Georgia can still beat Clemson.
Notre Dame we want because it’s a national championship game in New Orleans.
Wisconsin-Ohio State-Penn State-Minnesota are undefeated and Michigan has one loss. Mark my words: One of these teams will make the CFP this year. Minnesota won it all in 1904, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1941, 1960 and are a sleeping big market giant with an amazing guy for a head coach, P.J. Fleck. They are the only true dark horse on the list. Wisconsin, not Georgia, has the best running game in the country. Michigan, with a loss and questions abounding, has the most wins in college football history and a clear path to the CFP with their lone loss on the road to a good league team. Ohio State looks like the best team in the country right now and has a stellar passing offense and quarterback. Penn State, then an independent power, upset Ol’ Georgia for the national championship of 1982, in Herschel Walker’s last football game. Then, Donald Trump tricked him into the USFL (according to #34).
Don’t cheer for the Bayou Bengals on the Capstone, because if LSU wins the SEC West and Georgia does not get to play Alabama, I look for SEC champion Georgia to potentially still get locked out of the CFP…for Bama/Clemson and two undefeated teams, or one plus Notre Dame. Based on history.
I’d be apoplectically apocalyptic!
We want Bama! In the SEC championship game, in Atlanta. …We want Alabama.
Bigger point: This “system” is a joke.