UGA football fans’ favorite brothers, the Stinchcombs, were at the Touchdown Club of Athens meeting this week, Matt on hand to introduce featured speaker Jon of the Super Bowl-winning New Orleans Saints.
As you’d expect with brothers, there was some good-natured sibling rivalry. Matt told the assembled fans that he’d been excited to be asked to speak to the club … until he discovered it was just to talk about his little brother.
Jon, a Pro Bowl selection who looks to be about twice the size of Matt these days, was there to talk about what makes a championship team. He recalled his sophomore year at UGA when the 2000 roster was loaded with NFL-caliber talent, with the likes of Quincy Carter, Marcus Stroud, Richard Seymour, Charles Grant, Jonas Jennings, Boss Bailey, Kendrell Bell and so on.
Coach Jim Donnan told the team that “if you can’t win a national championship with talent like that, you should get out of coaching,” Stinchbomb said, pausing for a moment before adding: “That was Coach Donnan’s last year as coach.”
The problem, Stinchcomb said, was that despite all that talent, the Dogs “didn’t win because we didn’t play as a team.”
The key to a great team, Stinchcomb said, is accountability. That came into play in 2002 when Georgia was playing at Auburn for a trip to Atlanta and the SEC championship game. After a pretty poor first half, Mark Richt remembers he was trying to figure out what he was going to say to get the team fired up when he heard the loud voice of Stinchcomb doing it for him. Among other things — most of which Stincomb laughingly admitted he didn’t want to repeat — the player asked his teammates to look the guy next to them in the eyes and vow to win it for him.
Another factor in the turnaround after Richt became Georgia’s coach, Stinchcomb said, was that the players worked harder. He still smarts at the memory of the first day of mat drills, in which the players are graded on their efforts. Stinchcomb’s grade was a “D.” That was a new experience for the noted scholar-athlete. “I’d never made a ‘D’ in anything in my life!” In fact, he joked, looking over at Richt, “I’m still a little bit contentious about it.”
The same lessons have applied in New Orleans, he said, where the team and the community have bonded tightly in a way similar to college football programs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But while he said he’s proud of being on the Super Bowl champion, Stinchcomb drew a big cheer from the Athens fan gathering when he noted, “I’m a Saint for this period of my life, but I’ll always be a Bulldog.”
Asked his favorite moment from his UGA playing career, Stinchcomb cited two. The first was the 2001 come-from-behind win at Knoxville. He said it was “the loudest stadium I’ve ever heard” until after the Dogs scored the winning touchdown, at which point “it was the quietest stadium I’ve ever heard.”
The other UGA highlight was that Auburn game in 2002. Stinchcomb turned to brother Matt sitting beside the podium and drew a laugh when he said, “I scored a touchdown in that game, Matt. I don’t know if I told you.”
As Richt noted in thanking the Stinchcombs’ parents, who were on hand, Jon and Matt are two of the best UGA football has produced, both on and off the field. In the latter regard, the Stinchcombs, along with pal David Greene, are again putting on the Countdown to Kickoff event to raise funds for children’s healthcare charities, with this year’s fan day featuring Dogs present and past set for July 17 at the practice fields in Athens.
Another example of accountability.
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