Goals are a changeable thing.
A week ago Georgia still had an outside chance at winning the SEC East. And now here the Dogs sit after the Florida loss, facing extremely long odds on being able to end the regular season with a winning record (which would require winning out, including a shocking upset of Auburn) and probably needing to suck it up against the in-state rival to even finish bowl-eligible at 6-6.
But in the current era of college football, even postseason eligibility is a moving target, and with 35 bowls this year requiring 70 teams, there’s a possibility that the NCAA might have to allow some 5-7 teams to go bowling.
And Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity has made it clear that Georgia would accept a bowl bid even with a 5-7 record. “The SEC has certain obligations to fill certain spots to fill all the bowls,” he said. “Without question, as would any other Southeastern Conference school, if that’s part of our obligation, then absolutely we would adhere to those obligations if the conference asked us to. … We will certainly uphold our end of the deal.”
Some folks don’t see it Greg’s way. If that worst-case scenario were to play out — which I don’t think will happen — and the Dogs were to end up with a losing record, I’ve heard some Georgia fans (mostly of the old school variety) harumph this season that UGA should stay home even if offered a bowl. A team with a losing record hasn’t earned a bowl and doesn’t deserve such a trip, even to Nashville, Memphis or Birmingham, is how the thinking goes.
I emphatically disagree for a couple of reasons.
First, the biggest plus to playing in a bowl these days isn’t really the trip or the chance to add another win to the record as much as it is the additional practice time you get, which allows coaches to begin looking toward the next season and giving younger players some much needed reps. A struggling program like Mark Richt’s really needs that extra time, particularly the defense.
And then there’s the matter of keeping that string of consecutive bowls alive by going to a 14th straight postseason game. FSU has the nation’s longest bowl streak at 28, followed by Florida with 19, Virginia Tech with 17 and then Georgia and Georgia Tech with 13 each. It would be bad enough to end the season losing to the Jackets, without it also ending the Dogs’ bowl streak.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that 5-7 teams are going to be needed to fill out this year’s bowl roster. And as I said before, I think the Dogs are fully capable of winning two out of their last three and locking down a bowl spot the old-fashioned way.
But Georgia definitely should jump at the opportunity to extend this disappointing season, even with a losing record.
I know some of you don’t see it that way. Feel free to share your views in the comments. …
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