Bulldog Nation feels a profound sadness mixed with immense pride

UGA football staffer Bryant Gantt consoles Jarvis Jones after Saturday night's game. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

UGA football staffer Bryant Gantt consoles Jarvis Jones after Saturday night's game. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Just as I imagine it will take a while for Mark Richt’s Bulldogs to shake off the hurt from their close call with destiny Saturday night in the SEC Championship, the disappointment of the so-close loss to Alabama also is going to linger with the Bulldog Nation.

Talking to and hearing from fans Sunday, the overall mood was one of profound sadness over just how close this team came to playing for a national championship mixed with immense pride over the never-say-die effort the Dawgs gave in the Georgia Dome against the most elite of college football programs.

Only the most ignorant of so-called fans were expressing anger toward the coaches and players over the Bulldogs’ loss. More representative were those UGA students and fans who were on hand in Athens late Saturday night to greet the returning team buses with cheers, applause and chants of “It’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog!”

Such a classy display of support filled me with what the folks at Butts-Mehre like to call Bulldog Pride.

Zack Watson of the UGA Spike Squad shows how most of us felt after the loss to Alabama. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Zack Watson of the UGA Spike Squad shows how most of us felt after the loss to Alabama. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

But now many of us just feel drained. Several fans said they found they actually felt worse about the loss Sunday, once the adrenalin generated by the exciting match had worn off, than they did immediately after the game ended. I know I woke up at 5:30 a.m. Sunday and couldn’t get back to sleep because the game and its many turning points and near misses kept replaying in my mind.

Fortunately, there was a bit of good news Sunday afternoon to buoy Bulldog spirits as the feared fall to a lesser bowl in the wake of the championship loss didn’t happen. The Dogs might not be getting the other BCS spot in the Sugar Bowl, as even Bama coach Nick Saban said they ought to, but Georgia got the next highest available spot in the Capital One.

Hopefully, the resilient support for the program will translate into UGA selling all its tickets to the Orlando game, because as was pointed out on the postgame show Saturday night on the Bulldog radio network, how well a fan base travels factors into future bowl selections. (Tickets are now on sale to the general public.)

Likewise, let’s hope the players — even those who stuck around for another year of college ball just to try for a shot at the BCS, didn’t make it, and soon will be departing Athens — are able to rededicate themselves to ending this season on a high note. Win the bowl game, do it in the same impressive fashion that they took the battle to the Crimson Tide, and they’ll be rewarded with a Top 5 finish and the designation of a great team that fell just short of winning it all.

The Dawgs didn’t achieve their season-long goal of making it to the BCS game in Miami or winning Richt’s third SEC title, but as I’ve said before, anyone who considers this season less than a rousing success already deserves a dose of cold, hard SEC reality such as has been experienced in recent years by the loyal followers of the Tennessee Vols.

As Sanders Commings said after Saturday’s loss, “Any time you win 11 games in the regular season and go play for the championship, and lose the way we did, it’s a good season.”

He added: “We’re sad but we can’t be disappointed.”

Let his attitude provide a model for fans as well.

The Bulldogs did not fail against Alabama. They gave it everything they had and nearly beat a team that was already stamped with greatness. To paraphrase the UGA players’ motto for the season, our team “ran out of time,” as Richt said Saturday. But we should have no regrets.

JUNKYARD MAIL CALL

Got something you want to discuss concerning the 2012 football season, the upcoming Capitol One Bowl or looking ahead to next season? Or maybe a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

338 comments Add your comment

NC Dawg

December 2nd, 2012
9:38 pm

Proud of my team! Go DAWGS!!

Sam

December 2nd, 2012
9:39 pm

UGA needs to get big crowd at game and also needs to show up and play like they did against Bama. 30ish days is a long layoff.

CADawg

December 2nd, 2012
9:40 pm

I’m proud to be a DAWG!

Scambledog

December 2nd, 2012
9:45 pm

Proud of all the Dogs……….Now GATA in the bowl game. Go Dogs………Sic ‘em !!!!

ncdawg11

December 2nd, 2012
9:45 pm

Well put, Bill. So darn proud to be a Dawg, yet also couldn’t sleep well last night after that game. Will hurt for years, but hoping the boys go out with a win on Jan 1. Hats off to Richt and the boys for a hard fought, heck of a game.

well said

December 2nd, 2012
9:50 pm

BCS is a joke.

If you don’t take into consideration who plays in a conference game vs. those who don’t, why even factor in conference championships? So should GA have lost against (much hated) Florida to get a BCS game?

My thought for future…..No matter what a team is ranked pre-conference game, what conference it is, or their overall record… Conference winners should be ranked highest in BCS, and then the runner-up in conference games come next to determine bowl games. Then everyone else who qualifies gets the rest.

If Notre Dame had lost….Florida would be going to Miami against Alabama. Just like Alabama went last year and they didn’t win the SEC conference. Yes, they were the best, and fluked against LSU, but still….putting someone in a better game who wasn’t in the conference championship is like a smack in the face to the teams who are.

Hairy Dawg

December 2nd, 2012
9:50 pm

If nothing else, we know we’ve got to get tougher upfront, especially on defense. I took away the feeling that we’re pretty close to where we want to be. I hope our returning players add this fuel to their fire for the bowl game and 2013. We can be elite.

Kirk h-street

December 2nd, 2012
10:00 pm

Mark “close, but no cigar” Richt lives up to his name again. This clown can get you to the game, he just can’t bring home the trophy. Justify the game however you want, you still lost and a NC won’t come anytime soon now…you blew it!

MT

December 2nd, 2012
10:06 pm

This alum is proud of the Dawgs and the coaching staff. It’s unfortunate the tipped pass didn’t fall incomplete, but who knows whether or not the next play would have worked or not. While we’re losing several seniors, maybe a few juniors will want to return to give it another shot! The offense should be just as good if not better next year.

For the Team

December 2nd, 2012
10:12 pm

Bill-

Thanks for a great job this year. More than anything, I just hate it for the men on the team. I’d remind all Georgia fans that for us, this is largely entertainment. Those boys have put their heart and soul into this for most of their lives. We will go back to jobs, family, etc. They have to live with the result and we know they will be better people for the experience. That is a hard sell for them now.

I thought coach’s comment rang true. Shake their hands and tell them you love them and appreciate them. That is what leaders do.

I for one will see them in Orlando. They don’t have anything left to prove to me. They said all I need to hear last night.

God bless them.

Faithful Dawg Fan.

Macclenny_dawg

December 2nd, 2012
10:15 pm

Got to go recruit the big guys and man up in the weight room because next year our schedule is much tougher. Last night was the national championship it just wasn’t labled it. Just a few yards short. Go Dawgs and roll on Tide represent the best conference and whip the luck out of the Irish!!!

rocky

December 2nd, 2012
10:16 pm

There are lots of things in life to lose sleep over. None involves football.

Scambledog

December 2nd, 2012
10:22 pm

Let me get this straight…UGA beats the #3 team on a “neutral” field, comes within 4 yards of beating the #2 team on a neutral field, and they fall all the way to 7th in the BCS? I just don’t get it………

redandblackdog

December 2nd, 2012
10:25 pm

Well said Bill. I am a 1972 graduate, and this is the most demoralizing, hurtful loss ever. Gonna take a long, long, long time to get over. This was a loss of the national championship, and they don”t come often. Nothing more–nothing less! No disrespect for Notre Dame, but there are six SEC teams that could beat them. The championship game will be a beatdown and not fun to watch if you are a Notre Dame fan. This could have been Georgia’s game to win. There were a lot of “what ifs”, and the outcome could have been differently. What I hope the UGA football program gets from this is the attitude they put forth in this game. If Alabama can do it every game, then we can do it consistently as well. If we will implement this attitude every game, then it will be as the late, great Zig Ziglar said, “See you at the top!” Go Dawgs!!!

Skokie Dog

December 2nd, 2012
10:28 pm

Bill wrote, “how well a fan base travels factors into future bowl selections.” I don’t think that this rule of thumb applies to the BCS championship game, does it?
And let’s be honest, not too many U.Ga. fans are likely to be thrilled about the prospect of going to Orlando for the Cap One Bowl game rather than to Miami.
And I agree with Sanders Commings’ statement. It was a “good” season. “Elite” teams, on the other hand, don’t play their bowl games in Orlando or Tampa.

Chuck King Oliver

December 2nd, 2012
10:39 pm

I wonder if CMR and his boy wonder will be able to perform in the Capital One bowl.

icedawg

December 2nd, 2012
10:41 pm

No doubt the DAWGS were well prepared. They played their “A” game and left nothing on the field. The Tide running attack was just too much for them. DAWGS have been weak towards the run all year. But they played an inspired game. Murray had a good game. Gurley looked awesome. Just fell short. Very good season, though, especially if we can rebound and win the bowl game.

Musings

December 2nd, 2012
10:42 pm

“There are lots of things in life to lose sleep over. None involves football”

I keep going back to that part and laughing thinking “seriously?”

“UGA beats the #3 team on a “neutral” field, comes within 4 yards of beating the #2 team on a neutral field, and they fall all the way to 7th in the BCS?”

What’s not to understand? “Comes withing 4 yards” does not equal “beating Alabama”, and why would now be any different? You lose you fall. There were only barely ahead of Florida in the BCS, they lose Florida jumped them. They lost yesterday, Oregon won .. Oregon jumped them. They lost their Conference Championship game, Kansas State won their’s, they too jumped Georgia.

Musings

December 2nd, 2012
10:45 pm

Bill wrote, “how well a fan base travels factors into future bowl selections.” I don’t think that this rule of thumb applies to the BCS championship game, does it?

doesn’t apply to any of the BCS games, those games have their rules set up … Georgia didn’t qualify under any of them (they could, of course, move to the ACC …. they’d at least go to the Orange Bowl every single year)

Dawg Talk

December 2nd, 2012
10:49 pm

I’m proud to be a part of Georgia Bulldog nation!

ATLNative

December 2nd, 2012
11:13 pm

Very proud of the fight our men showed against a great team! Two plays away from going to Miami. We never gave up. Its a game of inches at this level and we came up short. Be very proud players, coaches and staff as we played with passion! AM has my respect for his play after that tough hit!

Ed

December 2nd, 2012
11:15 pm

Even with an endzone interception, blocked field goal returned for a touchdown, and a perfectly executed fake punt that lead to a touchdown, we still came up 4 points short. That means the other team was better. No shame in that, the Dawgs played their hearts out, can’t ask for more than that.

The atmosphere was electric. I have to add that the Redcoats brought their A game, we were in Section 315 – about as far from the band as you can get in that stadium – and they still blew our hair back.

The Dawg Fan

December 2nd, 2012
11:20 pm

ya know what. I gotta say you weenies that are critical of the Dawgs. Stuff it big time. I gotta shout out a big praise for the all the players on this team. You laid it out with all you had. Big time thanks to you. You are the best examples of the Georgia spirit I have seen in thirty plus years of Georgia football. Great effort. I would also like to call out the nine guys (I think it’s nine) who did no go for the NFL and wanted to play for Georgia. You gave up millions for Georgia pride. I thank you so much for one of the best seasons Georgia has had in a long time. I hope we can continue recruiting guys like you to continue the tradition and I also wish all of you much success in the NFL, which I’m sure will come your way

Jacob

December 2nd, 2012
11:29 pm

I think your title sums it up. I felt like a zombie all day. There was an emptyness there, knowing that had we one more play we would probably be playing in the NC. I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning…but alas, it’s football, and life goes on.

78Dawg

December 2nd, 2012
11:30 pm

Boycott that punk Chuck Oliver’s show. 3-6 pm on 680 “The Fan”. I’ll listen to Buck and Kincaid then turn it off. Buck should give the punk an earful on air Monday….

Strat Cat Dawg

December 2nd, 2012
11:35 pm

Well, what can you say when our Dawgs gave such a magnificent effort against the defending national champions and a well-conceived and well-practiced fade play to win it all before they could substitute and set up turned into a freak accident? Believe me, every Bammer from Nick on down was extremely relieved to get out of the Dome alive. So, as disappointed as I was that we fell short, I personally tweeted as many players as I could locate to let them know how proud the true Red and Black Bulldog Nation is and our appreciation for all they gave. Thanks, Bill, for affirming the success of the football team yesterday and this entire season as well as having your best season as the Dawgs Blawger. One thing the trolls, whiners and haters who comment here will never understand: Win or lose, it’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog! Now, let’s gear up to start 2013 with a win in Orlando. GO DAWGS! SIC ‘EM!

dave

December 2nd, 2012
11:35 pm

Well said The Dawg Fan, I’m still drained but look forward to the bowl game, national signing day, and next September. Go Dawgs!

Sharkdawg

December 2nd, 2012
11:39 pm

David Pollack is a sell out, to pick against your own school on national TV..Some really broke his heart..sell out

TO

December 2nd, 2012
11:41 pm

I was impressed by the game that UGA played and I was very turned off by Chuck Oliver’s question at the press conference. That guy is annoying at best. It’s a shame that some local nobody tries to make a name for himself by being confrontational at a post game presser.

I am a Tech grad and I play the Tech v. UGA game. My family and I have fun pulling against each other but I cannot understand Oliver and the timing of his question. You guys should give him all he can handle Monday.

Fire the Idiot

December 2nd, 2012
11:47 pm

UGA gets the crumby bowl choker richt deserves. Get this thru your dawg-heads: UGA will NEVER win anything of significance as long as Rickety is the head coach. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. He is a loser. And after the game, his comments revealed what a no-class person he is.

Whiznot

December 2nd, 2012
11:49 pm

Richt is widely regarded as an idiot but let’s not trade him for a bigger idiot. Football coaches are known for being dimwitted as evidenced by Georgia’s previous coaches Goff and Donnan. No doubt Richt feels even sicker than his players when he thinks back on his colossal blunder. Keep in mind that this season has been entertaining. Imagine how awful it would be to have a coach like Paul Johnson who refuses to pass.

Strat Cat Dawg

December 3rd, 2012
12:03 am

See what I mean?

eponymous

December 3rd, 2012
12:10 am

Funny thing Bill, I woke up at 3am wide awake and all I could think about was clocking the ball. Good article. Disbelief at first, drained a couple hours later, proud the next morning. Lets go bite the bugeaters.

The Monger

December 3rd, 2012
12:18 am

This article and Bill King are both disgusting. I am sorry but THIS ATTITUDE DISPLAYED BY BILL KING IS SHOCKING AND HORRENDOUS!!! This weak, sniffling dribble going on and on about “moral victories” and “well, we played hard” is exactly the passive, loser attitude that has kept Georgia football down for the past 32 years. It is a fact of life….I said it. I commend the players for keeping it that close with Alabama, despite subpar coaching and strength/conditioning on the Georgia side. I think they played as hard, for a less disciplined football team, and kept in entertaining. However, we gave up 520 plus yards, 350 on the ground, gave up 22 second half points, got shredded on the ground ALL game, and we commend this LOSS? A 11-2 football season, losing to both South Carolina and Alabama, when we had arguably better talent than both? REALLY DAWG NATION?? When will you guys finally wake up, because me and at least a dozen of my friends have ALL written Greg McGarity to demand the dismissal of Mark Richt. He has not won a noteworthy game since George Bush was in office, back in 2005. 7 years ago, we have toiled in mediocrity for long enough. 1-11 vs. ranked opponents in the last few years. We not only accept this, but some vocal minority of weak. loser dawg fans actually LOVE this? I am sick to my stomach, because this sick, disgusting nightmare that is Mark Richt and staff wont leave Athens, and the AD may not kick him out. I may live in misery for 3 or 4 more years…..Very sad day today….

-The Monger (Gone from these boards until we have higher expectations for Georgia football). I hate alot of you fans with SO much hate, those of you Richt supporters. Keep up the support until we are 1-30 against ranked teams sometime in 2017.

Athens

December 3rd, 2012
12:23 am

My biggest wish for Christmas is to lose a part of our “fan’ base. If you didn’t attend UGA and like to bang on the coaches and players, it’s hard tfor you to understand how we care about them for much more than only the W & L’s. We care more about the university because we lived it – daily. These people represent “our” university at the highest lrespected evel. We are very proud of them.

The Monger

December 3rd, 2012
12:27 am

I AM NOT HAPPY AT ALL!!!! AND UNTIL THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA ACCEPTS THAT RICHT IS AN EMBARRASMENT TO THE UNIVERSITY IN BIG GAMES, WE WILL NEVER BE A DYNASTY!!! A football town, really? Athens isn’t a real football town until National Championships and winning big games is accepted, and anything short is not. That’s why Tuscaloosa will be hanging another banner and we will lose to Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl, and finish 11-3, despite 9 starters on defense going to play in the NFL. And how crazy are these fans that think we have EVER been close to a National Championship with Richt at the helm? Even if we had squeeked past Alabama, who handed us 14 points, Richt would have embarrassed the league and lost to Notre Dame by 2 touchdowns in the National Championship. In 2007, we wouldn’t have made it out of the SEC Championship against LSU, considering we had already lost to South Carolina and got destroyed by Tennessee. 2002 was really the only time Richt got even remotely close, and we lost the biggest game of the year against Florida, so not really even then, do I think they would have had a chance in the National Championship Game. I will say the last impressive victory was against LSU in the 2005 SEC championship game. That was 7 years ago, and I am still waiting for another big game victory from Mark Richt….at 3 million a year, that is 21 million dollars we are paying Richt per BIG GAME VICTORY….sadly, only at Georgia is this tolerated….AND EMBRACED!!!!

RanDawg

December 3rd, 2012
12:28 am

-I understand that the Capital One is “ranked” higher,but I believe that a whole bunch of us long-time Dawgs would have loved to go to Dallas and play in Jerry’s World than go to Fla. yet again!!…Maybe they should consider just doing away with all these conference “tie-ins” to specific bowl games….that screws things up every year…and give the bowls a pecking order to choose WHOEVER they want nation-wide that is available…just a thought,but I think it’s better than we have now…

Jonathan Petrovich

December 3rd, 2012
12:30 am

Very well said. Great sadness with a great sense pride. They played a great game but lost to the better team.

Go Dawgs

Athens

December 3rd, 2012
12:31 am

Alums pay the bills. Richt our guy………don’t like it? Find another program.

Athens

December 3rd, 2012
12:37 am

@ Monger,

Auburn and UT are looking for some fans………..don’t let the door…

Cuz

December 3rd, 2012
12:37 am

I shook everyone’s hand in the locker room. Those that had their head in their hands, I rubbed their head and told them I loved them.
Coach Mark Richt.

Hey I wanted to win the SEC as much as anyone else. But how you handle yourself in a defeat, says more than how you celebrate a win. Coach Richt is who I want to coach the team of the school I attended. He is a great coach, and an even better man.

Cuz

December 3rd, 2012
12:38 am

Randawg, the upcoming playoffs will take care of it. Bout dang time.

The Monger

December 3rd, 2012
12:40 am

Big time Choker…..Mark Richt….FAILS IN EVERY BIG TIME GAME SINCE 2005….1-11 vs. ranked teams since 2009. Had 9 defensive NFL starters and gave up 32 points in the biggest game of his career. LOVED by Georgia fans…

Big time Choker Bobby Cox…. Despite 14 division titles and 15 playoff appearances…. 1 WS title despite Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz, 3 Hall of Fame pitchers. Loved By Atlanta Fans….

Big time Choker …. Atlanta Falcons….Lose the Only Super Bowl appearance in 40 plus years of losing. Eugene Robinson arrested for buying a hooker the night before Super Bowl, team loses 34-19 the next day. Current Falcons regime loses ALL 3 playoff games they’ve played, with 2 being blowouts. Loved and supported by Atlanta

Only in Georgia sports to we have these weak-minded, passionless excuse for fans. I am truly ashamed of alot of Georgia people I see every day. And for those who question my dedication or fandom, I have lived in Georgia my entire life, the past 5 generations of my family all lived and had roots in Georgia….grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. I have been a Braves, Hawks, Falcons, and Georgia Bulldog fan since I was in diapers in the late 80s. I am tired of a certain percentage of fans that settle for “getting to the playoffs” and “playing hard”. Why is playing with heart and soul such a success with you fans, like Georgia played with last night. Isn’t that what we “should” be doing EVERY GAME. Isnt that implied when you strap on the pads, at least I know I did every time I stepped onto the field. Why are we commending this? Should we pat every person on the back when they remember to wash their hands after using the bathroom? When will we get past this “we’ll get them next year, they played really hard” mentality, and EXPECT to win every time we line up with great teams??? Someone answer me that?

Cuz

December 3rd, 2012
12:41 am

Monger, who do you think will take the job if we fire Coach Richt? Nick Saban, Les Miles, Chris Peterson?

Who?

The Monger

December 3rd, 2012
12:48 am

Besides, what coach runs chicken out of the room the second a reporter asks a decent, intelligent, factual question about his record against ranked opponents the past several years? Mark Richt does. He knows he is 1-11 in big games since 2009, with that ONE win coming after Florida handed us the ball 6 times. and we still only won by a single score. He knows this is not cutting it with 90 percent of the bigtime boosters and shot callers, and he is feeling the heat finally. I LOVE IT!!!! RUN HIM OUT OF TOWN, and maybe he can coach pee-wee football and do ministry work in his spare time. The outcome will be the same though, he will build up hope and his Athens Thunderbirds will beat up on subpar teams to go 9-1 only to lose 5 straight Championship Games to the Dacula Badgers, the Marietta Warriors, the Warner Robins Wildcats, the Macon Tigers, and the Savannah Scorpions. GO DAWGS!!!! To new beginnings with NO Mark Richt or Todd Grantham in Athens…

The Monger

December 3rd, 2012
12:54 am

Cuz, to answer your question. If my predicition is correct, if McGarity acts quickly and fires Richt after the Capital One Bowl (as I REALLY hope for), I see us going after Kirby Smart. He is Saban’s right hand, and will bring better discipline, better strength and conditioning elements, a better defense, and most importantly a hard-nosed, strong, win at all costs attitude that he learned from his mentor, Nick Saban. This is EXACTLY what Georgia needs right now, a change in direction and attitude from accepting underperformance on the field with superior talent, to demanding championships with precise execution and hard-nosed, disciplined, well-coached 4 and 5 star recruits. What a refresher that would be right? Getting these same 4 and 5 star recruits, except they will actually be well-coached for a change.

-The Monger. a REAL UGA football fan….Thank you for 12 LONG years, but GOODBYE MARK RICHT….Its been real…

Athens

December 3rd, 2012
12:55 am

Like I said, “don’t let the door………” Auburn will love you……

Athens

December 3rd, 2012
12:59 am

What an idiot Monger….K Smart? Not a proven HC? Really? You are frigging brilliant….How many times a game do you think Saban is telling Smart what to do or what to call? Done with u…..hope u are done with us…..

UGA Season Ticket Holder since 1986

December 3rd, 2012
12:59 am

Bill – Can you find out the name of that reporter who asked the idiotic question to end CMR’s press conference. I want to go and egg his house. I’ve never credited news reporters for much of anything but props to all of the other journalists in that room who shunned the fool and collectively refused to ask any more questions to protest that idiot’s question. Props to them for that. But we do need to have the name of that “reporter” and the “news service” that he works for so that their press credentials can be pulled before the Captial One Bowl.

The Monger

December 3rd, 2012
1:01 am

Mark Richt hasn’t produced in the spotlight since 2005. 1-11 vs. ranked teams since 2009. EVERY BIG GAME (like his mentor Bobby Cox) is CHOKED!!!! Then he throws a temper tantrum and storms out of the interview room like a spoiled 3 year old. Stay Classy Mark, I know its hard with that 3 million dollars the dumb donors hand you every year, but still. He can’t answer a single question about his losing ways, because he has NO defense….

2011…. BOISE STATE…LOSS
SOUTH CAROLINA…..LOSS
LSU……LOSS
MICHIGAN STATE…..LOSS

2012 SOUTH CAROLINA….LOSS
FLORIDA…WIN (WITH THE HELP OF 6 TURNOVERS)
ALABAMA….LOSS

FACTS PEOPLE