Playing the ‘what if’ game cuts both ways for Dogs

What if Lindsay Scott's famous touchdown hadn't happened? (Associated Press)

What if Lindsay Scott's famous touchdown hadn't happened? (Associated Press)

I’m generally not real big on debating “what if” scenarios in sports, largely because there are so many moments in close games where a key play or two could have made the difference.

What if that player didn’t hang on to the ball? What if that tackle wasn’t missed? You can look at just about any big win or loss that wasn’t a blowout and see how the outcome could have changed if only something had or hadn’t happened.

But many fans enjoy these forays into alternative history, which is why ESPN’s “College Football Live” delves into such topics as the recent “Who wins the 1980 national title if Georgia’s Lindsay Scott doesn’t score vs. Florida?”

Those voting in the poll on ESPN.com for the most part concluded that Lindsay’s famous touchdown not happening would have meant the Dogs wouldn’t have won the 1980 championship, with 43 percent saying Pitt would have taken the title and 37 percent opting for Florida State.

However, 20 percent of the voters thought Georgia still would have been the national champs that year, and agreeing with them was Buck Belue, the Dogs’ quarterback that season. Belue wrote a blog on the subject in which he made a pretty convincing case that even if Scott hadn’t scored on that famous play, Georgia still could have won the game against Florida and kept its unbeaten record.

Trailing the Gators 21-20 with a minute left in the game, the Dogs didn’t expect to score on that play; they were just trying to keep alive a drive mainly aimed at getting into position for a field goal try by trusty Rex Robinson. Rex has even reminisced about how he missed seeing Lindsay score because he was busy preparing for what he expected to be a game-winning kick.

As Belue put it: “Rex told me he was good from 57 that day. In fact, Rex kicked two 57 yard field goals that season, and ended the season 4-6 from 50-plus. He was clutch. That was the plan all along. Let’s get Rex a shot to win it.”

So if Scott had been tackled at Georgia’s 40 on the big play instead of scoring, Belue says he would have hit Lindsay over the middle again. Then: “Drop one off to Herschel underneath would have been 10 yards. Scramble once for 10. Again, with one timeout to stop the clock, we could have run Herschel once. I liked our chances of doing this. What if Buck to Lindsay never happened? We still win the game on a Rex Robinson field goal.”

I’d like to think he’s right.

That discussion set me to thinking about any other “what if” moments for the Dogs with national championship implications, and the one that stood out was the South Carolina game in 2007, when the Dogs were held to four Brandon Coutu field goals in a 16-12 loss in Athens. That loss came to haunt Georgia late in the season when it was one of the hottest teams in the country but was basically out of contention for the BCS game because it didn’t even win the SEC East.

What if Tony Wilson had hung on to the ball he caught from Matthew Stafford when hit at the Gamecocks goal line? And there were other dropped or just-missed passes in the end zone for Georgia in that game.

A TD catch likely would have given the Dogs the win over South Carolina and a better conference record than Tennessee at the end of the season, even with the loss to the Vols. Georgia would have met LSU in the SEC championship game.

The way the Dogs were playing at that point, a win in Atlanta would have seemed likely. And that would have given the Dogs the shot against Ohio State in the BCS title game.

Yeah, thinking about things like that can drive you crazy.

Even so, feel free to offer up your own “what if” moments. …

139 comments Add your comment

SSIgator

July 16th, 2010
11:37 am

What if the players could shape up and stay out of jail?

mike

July 16th, 2010
11:40 am

If Kentucky can make a chip shot field goal they beat Tennessee the same year and the Dawgs make it to the Atlanta to face LSU. A lot of what ifs that season.

SSIgator

July 16th, 2010
11:43 am

What if UGA did not have so many penalties and turnovers?

outkasted

July 16th, 2010
11:47 am

what if ga get’s that turnover on that 1st drive for alabama in the blackout game but was flagged or what if he int prince miller got against teebow that was called backed that same yr…. i agree what if we didn’t have so many bad penalties the past 2 or 3 yrs????????

Seven Bulldogs Arrested This Calendar Year

July 16th, 2010
11:49 am

What if Damon Evans and seven bulldog players were not arrested this calendar year????

BugKiller

July 16th, 2010
11:50 am

What if someone COMPETENT had been named Georgia’s DC when Van Gorder left, you know, as opposed to Soft Willie Martinez, who was also a failure at ECU and Central MI as a DC, btw.

Or, what if Adams didn’t cheapskate Van Gorder on his raise after winning the Broyles Award, which is the real reason why BVG left?

Bride of Chucky Knapp

July 16th, 2010
11:51 am

Maddening to think about. What if we just wait a bit more and enjoy the real season when it starts?

SSIgator

July 16th, 2010
11:52 am

What if the UGA players spent less time dancing on the sidelines and more time focusing on the game at hand?

Matt in Athens

July 16th, 2010
11:53 am

I’ve thought about this since last year: what if Rennie Curran hadn’t tipped Stephen Garcia’s 4th down pass and what If A.J. Green hadn’t blocked Arizona State’s FG attempt last year? That would’ve put us a 5-7, out of a bowl, and Richt would be in a lot more trouble (For the record, I’m very glad he’s not). Also worth remembering is the dropped 4th down play vs. GT. A 4-8 season would’ve been disastrous.

SSIgator

July 16th, 2010
11:56 am

What if the UGA coaches spent more time coaching and less time thinking up gimmicks to motivate the players?

For the record

July 16th, 2010
11:58 am

If, If was a 5th we all be f’d up.

thUGA

July 16th, 2010
11:59 am

What if thUGA players didn’t dance as a team in the end zone when they scored.

Scott W.

July 16th, 2010
11:59 am

What if Gators weren’t such jerks?

DawgBone

July 16th, 2010
12:01 pm

What if CMR had control of his players?

Scott W.

July 16th, 2010
12:02 pm

What if the crazy penalty from the LSU game wasn’t called against AJ Green and that was the turning point of last year?

SSIgator

July 16th, 2010
12:03 pm

What if UGA did not have a minister as a football coach?

Red & Black

July 16th, 2010
12:03 pm

What if every off season wasn’t an embarassment?

Scott W.

July 16th, 2010
12:04 pm

What if Bacarri Rambo hadn’t stood the Tigers up at the goal line?

jp

July 16th, 2010
12:05 pm

what if gator fans didn’t have mullets and jeans shorts?

SSIgator

July 16th, 2010
12:05 pm

What if watergirl stayed off of the sidelines and sat in the stands or stayed home?

Today’s Dawgs don’t misbehave more

July 16th, 2010
12:06 pm

they just misbehave more

dixiedawg

July 16th, 2010
12:06 pm

Florida people are so busy looking at what happens to Georgia players that they can’t see all of the trouble their own players are having. Florida’s arrest record isn’t any better than Georgia’s. Neither look good. Clean up your own back door before you start complaining about others.
By the way, we still have the best record against you guys overall.

space wrangler

July 16th, 2010
12:07 pm

What if Terrence Edwards catches that pass against Florida in ‘02.

dixiedawg

July 16th, 2010
12:08 pm

The watergirl just happens to be Coach Richt’s wife.

SSIgator

July 16th, 2010
12:08 pm

What if it could be 1980 every year?

Scott W.

July 16th, 2010
12:10 pm

What if Michael Johnson had a 1/2ft less vertical?

If ifs and buts were candy and nuts

July 16th, 2010
12:11 pm

we’d all have no reason to fear the Athens police scanner

SSIgator

July 16th, 2010
12:12 pm

What if UGA was not 10-10 against SEC east teams over the last four years?

How2fish

July 16th, 2010
12:15 pm

SSIgator what if UGA still didn’t own the UGA vs UF record. What if CUM wasn’t a razor edge away from one more melt down. What if the Gators went a whole season with out trying to gouge anyone’s eye out or pass out behind the wheel at a red light..if mean what if?

SSIgator

July 16th, 2010
12:18 pm

What if Bill King shaved his beard and had lasik surgery? We are actually almost the same age Bill, but I guess it is hard on you to be a dawg.

How2fish

July 16th, 2010
12:19 pm

What if Mount Cody doesn’t play against UT last year?

DP

July 16th, 2010
12:19 pm

What if 2 Notre Dame kick returners didn’t inexplicably run away from a kickoff and hand Georgia a touchdown that was the margin of victory in the Sugar Bowl at the end of the 1980 season?

How2fish

July 16th, 2010
12:20 pm

What if Herschel doesn’t knock the ND middle linebacker out of the game in 1980.

dawggirl

July 16th, 2010
12:23 pm

What if SSIgator wasn’t a complete tool?

MattDawg

July 16th, 2010
12:26 pm

What if miss fuhrmann had been wearing white panties

Cuz

July 16th, 2010
12:32 pm

What if the magnetic fields shifted from North to South? Would we have to change our name to the Northeastern Conference?

SSIgator

July 16th, 2010
12:34 pm

MattDawg -

What if they were gold – or worse yet blue?

Delbert D.

July 16th, 2010
12:41 pm

Wait a minute, “alternative history” is what Obama is selling.

Dawg H8R

July 16th, 2010
12:45 pm

Delbert D.

July 16th, 2010
12:41 pm
Wait a minute, “alternative history” is what Obama is selling.

Wait a minute, “alternative history” is what Jawja is selling.

Jd. Dawg Fan

July 16th, 2010
12:49 pm

If Lindsey does not score on that play I don’t get drunk in New Orleans that year!

gadawg

July 16th, 2010
12:49 pm

if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle

Delbert D.

July 16th, 2010
12:51 pm

Cuz – That would make it Northwestern Conference, I think.

Delbert D.

July 16th, 2010
12:55 pm

If you want alternative “reality”, have your school board buy their textbooks from Texas.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 16th, 2010
12:59 pm

What if Andre Hastings had not fumbled in 1992 against UT when we were driving at the end of the game.

SSIGator

July 16th, 2010
1:01 pm

What if I didn’t like men? There would be a lot of unhappy guys out there today!

Dawg H8R

July 16th, 2010
1:02 pm

Me too SSIGator. God I love MEN!

dixiedawg

July 16th, 2010
1:02 pm

What if SSigator would go post on the gator board where somebody might care what he had to say instead of spending time on the dawgs board. Makes me wonder if he really wants to be a Georgia Dawg but is afraid he won’t be accepted.

Joe Hamilton's Designated Driver

July 16th, 2010
1:03 pm

What if gators weren’t such lowlifes like my passenger

SSIgator

July 16th, 2010
1:05 pm

I wish I had a man in my lap right now!

RUSS GATA

July 16th, 2010
1:07 pm

Thanks JYD Blogger,
This replies shows that many folks still have what Freud called “BullDawg” envy.
Those affected and infected are Jackets and Gators and guys that did not play high school football-
and as a result of too many wedgies applied by the Dawgs historically take shots.
When the hating is this good that means 10-2 or better.