SEC title would mean Georgia’s return to elite status (video added)

Mark Richt has Georgia in the SEC championship game for second straight year. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Mark Richt has Georgia in the SEC championship game for second straight year. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

(VIDEO ADDED BELOW)

This might stun starry-eyed middle-schoolers and high school players, who are otherwise oblivious to ancient history before 2006 in the SEC. But even the football Godzillas of this conference and, it follows, the globe, aren’t that far removed from humility (and Shreveport).

Before the last five seasons under Nick Saban, Alabama had an 11-year stretch (1997-2007) when it reached double digits in wins only three times, suffered through four losing seasons, four non-bowl years, lost to Auburn six straight years, went to the Music City Bowl twice and even was subjected to the Independence Bowl . . . three times! There’s your, “Roll Tide.”

Florida fans would like to forget the Ron Zook era of relative torment, sandwiched between Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer.

Auburn just fired a coach, Gene Chizik, who won a national championship two years ago.

LSU: You say Saban and Les Miles. I raise you Mike Archer, Curley Hallman and Gerry DiNardo.

The Dogs have given "Dawgnation" much to cheer about. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

The Dogs have given fans much to cheer about. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

It happened before, it can happened again. It happened to Georgia. Mark Richt won two SEC championships in his first five seasons (2002 and 2005). He is still waiting for a third.

So before anybody makes any grand declarations about what Georgia’s return to national relevancy this season means for the future of the Bulldogs’ program, place a ping-pong ball on the kitchen table, open the window and try to give assurances that it won’t roll off the edge at some point.

However, Georgia’s ascent this season — and actually it’s climb since the 0-2 start of 2011 — has significance. Credit to Richt, his staff and all associated with the Georgia program, because a team doesn’t go 21-1 in a stretch of regular season games, even it managed to avoid Alabama or LSU, without doing a lot of things right. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 3 in the BCS. They are back in the SEC title game again, facing No. 2 Alabama in Saturday’s SEC championship. The winner faces No. 1 for the national title.

It’s this simple: Georgia has an opportunity to affirm itself as a member of the SEC’s elite, and ranking among the SEC elite is synonymous with the national elite. Imagine how this feels for Richt, after seeing his program seemingly erode over several months, going 7-9 in consecutive SEC seasons, losing to the likes of Kentucky, Mississippi State, Colorado and Central Florida.

“It’s what you always hope for,” Richt said Sunday of the team’s position this week. “It’s what you want.  We know pre‑season rankings are for the fans.  Where you’re ranked at the end of the year is the most important. [But] it’s not about me. It’s about Georgia. It’s about this program, this team, these young men, this coaching staff.  I don’t worry too much about all the personal stuff. But it is great to be in this position at this point.  You fight like mad every year to get your team in this position.”

Georgia was in the SEC title game a year ago against then-No. 1 LSU, but there’s a greater sense of excitement and confidence in Athens now. The Dogs ranked only 14th in the BCS before last year’s SEC game. National title hopes were smothered in Week 1 (loss to Boise State). Respectability hopes were stomped on in Week 2 (loss to South Carolina).

If Richt wants to play the no-respect card with his players this week, it’s available. Most of the national commentary has focused on the potential of an Alabama-Notre Dame final. But that was expected. One doesn’t eclipse Alabama until one beats Alabama.

Even while acknowledging that Georgia and Alabama mirror each other in several areas this year, Richt said: “One thing they’ve done is they’ve been national champions and we’ve not. They’ve been SEC champions and we’ve not, during the time-frame of these kids’ careers.”

They are the measuring sticks all go by. Richt has won his share of games since 2006 but his accomplishments have paled compared to Saban, Miles and Meyer. Saban is 39-9 (.812) in the SEC with one conference and two BCS titles. Miles is 40-10 (.800) with two SEC and one BCS championship. In Meyer’s last five seasons at Florida (2006-10), he went 31-9 (.775) in the SEC, with two conference and two crystal trophies.

Georgia is back on the doorstep to both. The climb has been impressive.

– By Jeff Schultz

Video: Is Georgia’s defense more talented than Alabama’s?



A trip down blog Memory Lane

Georgia playing at level we haven’t seen under Richt

Short takes (UGA): Rambo’s ascent, Gurley’s comfort

Upsetting Georgia would give Tech needed boost for future

Weekend Predictions: Georgia will win on Red-and-Black-Saturday

Vince Dooley: Joy from Georgia’s resurgence, pain from son’s firing

Wonder why SEC is on top? Look at other conference finals

Falcons win — but run before somebody changes their mind

Georgia’s new reality: From on the brink to BCS title possibility

Upsets launch Georgia into BCS title picture

502 comments Add your comment

Thomas Brown

November 25th, 2012
8:01 pm

# 3 AP and # 3 Coaches’ Poll with 1 number 1 vote

Fun to beat the pompous, hate driven institution in Atlanta worse than we have in years.

Chris

November 25th, 2012
8:02 pm

Yes we are on the verge of staying on top

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

Goldenrod

November 25th, 2012
8:07 pm

All you trash talking leghumpers need to realize that Georgia Tech can still make it in a BSC game simply by beating F$U whereas you guys will get stomped by the Tide. Their team and coaching staff won’t let you get away with those cheap body slams and hard tackles!

We WILL Run This Conference!

Gators Sugar Bowl Bound

November 25th, 2012
8:10 pm

I am seeing ESPN says that this pitiful Jawja team is headed to Atlanta for the Chik-Fil-A bowl while the TRUE kings of the East, Will Muschamp’s Florida Gators head into New Orleans in the Sugar Bowl to take on the Oregon Ducks.

ESPN projects Florida will take Jawja’s #3 spot after Bama drills them in the SECCG the pups backed into.

Dawg Days

November 25th, 2012
8:10 pm

Doable. Go Dawgs!

RomeDawg

November 25th, 2012
8:14 pm

Dude, the Gators almost lost to LA-Lafayette.

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:16 pm

Go to bed tom brown

We await your AM blatherings

LDawg

November 25th, 2012
8:21 pm

RomeDawg – love it!! I’m just glad FL didn’t make it to the national championship game by default. What would ESPN have done then since FL didn’t win their conference? Make up something else that would let them in instead of UGA?

Magic Brownies

November 25th, 2012
8:21 pm

Won’t help me against Bama. I hope nobody slams me to the ground even though I deserve it.

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:21 pm

The only thing standing between dogs and lady gym dogs is Bama and an 11AM New Years game with the B!G that the dogs will lose and end up whatever and three and fall behind Urban ( TIME OUT! TIME OUT! TIME OUT!) in the AP.

Enjoy basketball dogs. You ain’t got no game.

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:22 pm

Faith Hill got game

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:23 pm

dogs fear Sparty

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:24 pm

My shrink fears tom brown

Big Enos Burdette

November 25th, 2012
8:24 pm

Hellfire and Dawgnation…we got a chance!

Roll Turd

November 25th, 2012
8:24 pm

Hey Gators Sugar Bowl Bound .. The dogs backed in???? How many back ins did FLA get? If you look at it we all back in. The Tide lost to A&M so by your rational they backed in too. Shut up and go away.. If we don’t beat Bama and end up in the what ever bowl…. we still beat your A$$.. So sit on that for another year. If we beat em then the East has another shot at a MNC…

Denver Dawg

November 25th, 2012
8:25 pm

“backed into” the SECCG???? you ignorant wanna-be – THE DAWGS BEAT FLA. STRAIGHT UP!!! – HEAD TO HEAD!!! WE COST YOU A CHANCE AT THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!!! (and boy is it sweet)

these “PUPS”, as you call them, took your best shot, then hung your lizard carcasses to the woodshed wall…

give Coach Willie a new deal! we LOVE him, too! now every year in late October it’s OUR turn to party!!

DEAL with it!

so go enjoy your “Sugie Bowl” wile UGA is on the true National Stage…. the recruiting boost from this exposure will be beneficial for future years, too….

later, Gator!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:26 pm

dogs return to elite status?

Delusional.

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:26 pm

tom brown is delusional

jsmooth

November 25th, 2012
8:27 pm

@buteye:
What a cheating program you have with the likes of terrell pryor and others. You are a piece of trash and need to realize that the SEC has dominated your plants (buckeyes). Even your victory over the razorbacks was part of your cheating history.

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:27 pm

tom brown got beat up in line at Walmart on Black Friday

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:28 pm

tom brown steals kids Xmas presents

Chalupa Batman

November 25th, 2012
8:29 pm

Goldenrod is a joke. Seriously?? Get a life loser.

Fla may get into a bcs bowl. Fine. 17-9 lizards. And we cost you a shot at a mnc.

Uga gonna roll bama, cuz everyone says we have no chance. Keep saying it.

Then bring on the overrated irish. Our yr. our time. GO DAWGS. GATA

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:30 pm

smooth,

History. No one on the UNDEFEATED The Ohio State University team had anything to do with the penalty.

dogs will end up with three losses

0ne will be Fugly

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:32 pm

Tennessee
Auburn
Arkansas
Kentucky

HELP Fing WANTED

SEC! SEC!

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:34 pm

FACT: One loss means UNDEFEATED in impossible.

dogs math department will even verify!

HA!

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:36 pm

FACT: 3 losses will mean dog may stay in the top 25.

Unlike Auburn, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee

SEC! SEC!

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:37 pm

tom brown,

Name the bet. I’ll take Bama and give points.

Edawg

November 25th, 2012
8:39 pm

Hey Suckeye you guys played the worse Miami team with Ken Dorsey at quarterback that Charles Howell III look alike choked all over himself, have they taken that title away yet, first big loss and Urban is back wi health problems

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:40 pm

SEC! SEC!

The place where a one semester “student athlete” wins the NC at Auburn and two year later they fire the fricken coach because they were 0-8 in the SEC! SEC!

JOKE

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:40 pm

edag,

whatev

Ghost of Ron Zook

November 25th, 2012
8:41 pm

Why is Suckeye even on this blog? Go back to the slow prodding Little 14 and talk your smack…..Little 14 is a joke of a conference that just added the powerhouses Mary Land and But gers….LOL

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:42 pm

Is tom brown getting off his shift soon?

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:43 pm

Ghost of Ron Zook

November 25th, 2012
8:43 pm

What does the Little 14 lead the nation in? Schools on probation…..and still cannot win jack sheet.

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:43 pm

text me when tom brown paid his cell phone bill

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:45 pm

I know jack sheet

Ghost of Ron Zook

November 25th, 2012
8:45 pm

Suckeye is trade school nerd ashamed to even mention the A She She…..keep posing as something you are not

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:46 pm

Urban owns the dogs

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:48 pm

ghost,

Chizic just called. Needs comforting.

$7.5M over 4 years paid monthly.

Smart

SEC! SEC!

Tampa Gator

November 25th, 2012
8:53 pm

Watching the BCS show on ESPN…..and I agree with the talking heads…..why is Bama ranked higher in the BCS than Florida? I understand Georgia (since they beat Florida…..but then you have to consider how badly SC beat Georgia and how badly Florida beat SC)…..but not Bama at this time. Florida beat FSU, LSU, South Carolina, and Texas A&M…..all in the BCS top 15…and three in the top 10. The only big win Bama has is LSU….and Florida beat LSU by a bigger margin. And Florida beat A&M….and Bama lost to them. Florida lost to Georgia, who is ranked #3. Bama lost to A&M, ranked #9. Again…..why is Bama ranked higher than Florida at this time??? No reason whatsoever.

Tampa Gator

November 25th, 2012
8:56 pm

Buckeye…..

As long as he does not take any other type of coaching job…..he gets that. So….don’t expect him to end up coaching again for at least 4 years….unless some other school offers him more money than that….which is not going to happen. Good for him…..but bad for college football…..becasue he is a good assistant coach and would make some team an outstanding defensive coodinator. And he is a Florida grad.

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:56 pm

dogs losing thee will mean top 25

maybe

Call me dogs

maybe

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:57 pm

even Urban is not bigger the

THE Ohio State University

Kevin

November 25th, 2012
8:58 pm

Hey Jeff, I’m sure you won’t give your prediction, yet, but if your mind’s made up, what’s your guess at the margin of victory?

We all know how this is gonna end

November 25th, 2012
8:58 pm

Damn! Jeffs going hard this week at firing up the Dawgs bandwagon.

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:58 pm

gotta go to bed

tom brown starts posting at 2AM

why?

we wonder

Tampa Gator

November 25th, 2012
8:59 pm

Buckeye….

Your Buckeyes would have lost to LSU, Bama, Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M, South Carolina….and most likely Ole Miss, Miss. State, and Vandy…..from the SEC. And the Vols would give them all they could handle….and they won one game in the SEC this year. Go back and stick you head in the snow. There is one good reason Meyer went to OSU……and none of it has to do with beating top tier teams to win a conference championship.

Buckeye

November 25th, 2012
8:59 pm

Satan owns Who will stop Murray from being Murray in B1G games Murray?

harold

November 25th, 2012
9:00 pm

ALABAMA 38 UGA 3 IN A JOKE. DOGS GET ABUSED BY THIS NFL BAMA TEAM!