I want to take a moment to say thanks for all the positive feedback about the two Blawgs I wrote last weekend after the loss to Alabama.
I thought it was interesting that what seemed to resonate the most with many readers was my comment in the Sunday follow-up that I had trouble sleeping Saturday night after the game. It turns out quite a few of you also found yourselves lying awake replaying the game in your minds!
Speaking of which, I think the to-spike-or-not-to-spike debate has pretty well played out, so I’m not going to devote any more space to that particular issue. But there are other things on your mind, as is reflected in this week’s Junkyard Mail.
(By the way, I should note that some of the comments below are excerpted from much lengthier letters. Keep it concise, folks!)
Now, let’s answer some mail. …
Samantha Ducote writes: The BCS is a joke. So should Georgia have lost against (much hated) Florida to get a BCS game? Everyone is hating on NIU, because they are 15th, but they did win their conference and are 12-1, just like Bama. Yes, easier schedule and all, but they still won their conference. Conference winners should be ranked highest in the BCS, and then the runners-up in conference games [should] 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. Putting someone in a better bowl game who wasn’t in the conference championship is like a smack in the face to the teams who are.
I’ll admit I think Georgia deserves the Sugar Bowl more than Florida does. Even Nick Saban thought it was a “crying shame” Georgia wasn’t going to get a BCS berth and believes the SEC Championship runner-up should fare better, but that’s the crazy system we have. As for conference champions, as I noted recently, some conferences play a championship game and some don’t. And this season, of course, Notre Dame didn’t have to play for a conference title in order to make it to the BCS. Still, I don’t think I can agree with you that just winning a conference should get you into the BCS. Not all conference championships are on an equal footing, and I’m not just talking about Northern Illinois. This year, for example, no one can make a sound argument that winning the ACC championship is anywhere close to being comparable to winning the SEC title … or even the Big 10 or PAC 12 championships. The upcoming playoff certainly won’t solve all the problems, but the system it’s replacing is extremely flawed.
Jim P. writes: Bill, I am as disappointed and sad as anyone in the Bulldog Nation. This is one of those losses that will hurt forever. Oh, what could have been. I’m so proud of our team for never giving up, even when they were obviously physically drained on defense. And that same defense held Bama after our last punt, to give our offense the last shot they needed to win the game. Aaron [Murray] looked like he and our offense were destined to give our team a championship. But fate had a different ending this year. I will question the what if’s the rest of my life (that is the fortune of all sports fans), but will not be angry or put blame on the players or coaches. Our players and coaches fought their hearts out till the end and did their best to get a win and certainly wanted it just as much as the biggest fan. I have to rank this as a top 5 heartbreaker along with Pittsburgh Panther Dan Marino’s 4th down bomb to beat us in the ‘82 Sugar Bowl (’81 season) while future Falcon Bill Fralic was holding on the play; our ‘83 Sugar Bowl loss to Penn State (’82 season), which cost us another national championship; the devastating Atlanta Falcons loss to Dallas in the 1980 playoffs (when victory was in hand); and the Atlanta Braves’ extra inning Game 7 loss to Minnesota in the ‘91 World Series.
That’s a passel of heartbreak there, Jim. I think what’s so hard for Georgia fans to take about this defeat is how the stars seemed perfectly aligned this season for the Bulldogs to go all the way. Those opportunities don’t come along all that often (OK, unless you’re Alabama). To fall just short under those circumstances is like absorbing a cheap shot you didn’t see coming from Quinton Dial.
Mike Moss writes: Really enjoyed your article, “Bulldog Nation feels a profound sadness mixed with immense pride.” My thoughts on the game: I’m hurting and gutted like everyone else. I was proud of the amazing effort that the Bulldogs gave. I’m also proud of the response of Dawg Nation and how there is an outpouring of support for our team. I’ve had enough of hearing from that minority of so-called fans who are bashing the Dawgs and their leadership after that game! Sure, we can debate some of the finer points of the game forever. But in my opinion the Dawgs gave it all they had! [Alec] Ogletree’s run back. Murray getting back up after one of the most brutal blindsided hits we’ve ever seen in football. This team fought all the way to the end against one of the best teams of the decade. I think voicing some frustration is part of it. But if you can’t truly appreciate what a great effort that was, then I don’t think Dawg Nation needs you. I want to win big so badly, but all I can really ask is that the team I support gives it their all. These Dawgs gave their all!
The way the lead kept switching back and forth over the course of the game was testimony to both teams giving it their all. While UGA fans might be heartbroken by the outcome, it was an absolutely spectacular football game, as was noted by my friend Al, who lives in New Jersey and generally doesn’t follow college ball. “You folks can absolutely hold your head high,” he said after viewing Georgia-Alabama, which he said was the game of the season.
Jackie Leonard writes: Let’s put to rest all this bull about Aaron Murray not being able to get it done on the big stage, as that talk radio jerk Chuck Oliver implied at [Mark] Richt’s press conference. If anyone let us down in the SEC Championship game, it was Todd Grantham and his inability to scheme against Alabama’s power running game. Certainly, Murray did his part. Time and again he brought the Dawgs back, and that tipped pass on the final play was due to a poor block, not to any mistake on our quarterback’s part. Without Murray, Georgia wouldn’t have been in that game after halftime! I sure hope he comes back for his senior season at UGA. Do you think he will?
I think all things being equal, Murray probably would come back. Back at midseason I was pretty sure he would. But NFL draft analysts have noted that this year sees a relatively unimpressive class of quarterbacks coming out, and Murray might benefit from leaving a year earlier. His career numbers are already pretty gaudy, he’s in graduate school and, let’s face it, he’s not going to grow two or three inches in the next year, which is the major knock on him by NFL types. So there might not be that much for him to gain, in terms of a pro career, by sticking around for his senior season at Georgia. If he leaves, Hutson Mason has a lot of potential and, at worst, will likely be a decent game manager. But even before his redshirt season Mason’s playing time was severely limited, so he’d definitely benefit from being Murray’s backup next year before becoming the starter as a senior. I hope that’s how it works out. However, the next letter is from a reader who doesn’t agree.
Zackariah Craig writes: I keep hearing that fans should be proud of the effort of the team [against Alabama] and that is crazy to me. Am I a fan of the University of Georgia or Georgia State? I hear how great Aaron Murray is yet he always has a turnover when he plays against a quality defense. A freshman QB at Texas A&M went to Bama and did not have any turnovers. A defense full of NFL talent, or that’s what I hear, gave up 500 yards. UGA got physically whipped. So, the best we can do with this team is 11-2 and maybe a top 5 finish. Not even a BCS bowl. Grantham and [Mike] Bobo should be fired. I assure you that other coaches could do the same or more with this talent. 350 yards rushing allowed and mishandling the two minute offense is grounds to fire the DC and OC. As for Murray, please go to the NFL because you are an anchor holding UGA back from greatness. Let Mason start next year because no way we win the SEC with an almost brand new defense.
A team comes within 5 seconds of playing for the national championship and you want to replace the quarterback and fire the offensive and defensive coordinators? Wow. I guess by your exacting standards, every team that didn’t even make it to the SEC Championship game should be cleaning house, too. I mean, you do recall that Texas A&M and its freshman wunderkind, Johnny Manziel, lost to two of the three good SEC teams they played this season, right?
Mike Darnell writes: Enjoy the Blawg. I couldn’t help but think that the majority of players, if given a vote, would prefer not to have to play in a bowl game. Maybe one day, if a true playoff system evolves, the minor bowls will be eliminated. Many teams have nothing to play for. I think that any UGA player who is a senior or is an underclassman who is considering entering the NFL draft should be allowed to forego the game. What do you think?
Glad you enjoy the Blawg. I think a vote of college players would be very likely to prove you wrong, though. Bowl games, whether BCS or not, are seen as a reward to the players for a good season (even if the definition of good gets a bit elastic when it comes to filling the slots in some of those lower-level bowls). The players get a trip to someplace new where they are feted at dinners and parties and given nice gifts. (At the Capital One Bowl, Georgia players each will get a $420 shopping trip to a local Best Buy and a Fossil watch.) Plus they get to play another game of football, which believe it or not, is why the vast majority of them (who will never play on Sundays) are there to begin with. A lot of seniors would fight you over trying to take their last game away from them. They love playing football! Lastly, the extra practices that bowl teams get are a big plus for programs and allow teams to start planning for the next season and evaluating talent. All in all, a bowl game, even a minor one, is a win-win situation for both players and schools.
Big Enos Burdette writes: Why won’t UGA go ahead and rename the mascot “Bulldawgs”? There are plenty of “Bulldogs” in the world. It would set the UGA brand apart and it has a distinctly Southern flair. All the talking heads on ESPN already say “Dawgs” with the drawl when speaking of UGA. Trademark it so no one else could use it on their merchandise. Have always admired the unique mascots like Vols, Gators, Tide, Seminoles, Gamecocks, Tar Heels, etc. The university will wish they had done so when one of the other “bulldog” schools does it first and locks UGA out of using it.
OK, that last bit isn’t going to happen. You can trademark “Georgia Bulldogs” but not “Bulldogs,” so no one’s going to take exclusive control of that mascot name. UGA may not be the only Bulldogs around, but I think there’s a certain cachet in being the best-known. It’s not the Fresno State or even Mississippi State mascot who’s adorned the cover of Sports Illustrated as college football’s best mascot, after all! As for going with the “distinctly Southern” Bulldawg spelling: No offense intended, but I absolutely hate the idea. It’s one thing for fans, or even sportscasters, to affectionately call them the Dawgs. But to enshrine such a corny spelling as the official name of the team would be just plain tacky.
That’s it for now. I’m taking a few days of vacation, so join me back here the week after next. Go Dogs!
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg
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