I understand the process. I get paid to give an opinion, and you’re welcome — encouraged, even — to respond. Usually you tend to agree if I say something nice about a team you like and disagree if I don’t. I grasp that part. But here’s something I don’t get:
The widespread assertion that there’s no way — no way! — Georgia can lose four regular-season games this fall.
I picked Georgia to lose four games. I didn’t do it for shock value. I did it because I looked at the composition of the 2009 Bulldogs and their schedule. You might view well the team more highly, and that’s your prerogative. But to say I’m absolutely crazy — and one or two of you did — for daring to suggest as much made me think, “Am I really so nuts?”
So I thought some more, and here’s what I decided: Not nuts, at least not on this topic.
The day after writing my little forecast, I picked up the Sporting News college yearbook at Borders. I noted that the magazine — the best of its kind, in my longstanding estimation — had Georgia ranked 15th in the nation. (I think that’s a tad high, but not unreasonable.) And then I noticed this:
Florida is ranked No. 1; LSU is ranked No. 8; Oklahoma State is ranked No. 10; Georgia Tech is ranked No. 11. That makes four teams on Georgia’s schedule rated ahead of Georgia and, just as an aside, those were the four games I picked the Bulldogs to lose. Silly me!
Could Georgia win one or two of those? Sure it could. It could also lose all four. I’d also note this is the first time since 2006 Georgia has entered a season with a new quarterback, and how many regular-season games did those Bulldogs lose? Why, four. (Vanderbilt and Kentucky included.)
Do I think Joe Cox is better than Joe Tereshinski III? Yes, I do. But I also think it’s a tough task for a quarterback to make his first start in almost three years on the road against a Top 10 opponent. (FYI, this is only the second time since 1992 the Bulldogs have opened anywhere but Sanford Stadium.)
I hold Mark Richt in high esteem, and it wouldn’t shock me if he got more from this team. (After the G-Day game I wrote that Georgia would go 9-3, which I rethought after looking harder at the schedule.) I don’t believe the 2009 Bulldogs will be an embarrassment — indeed, I expect them to play harder than the 2008 team did — and in 2010 Georgia should be outstanding.
But this year I look at the Bulldogs and think, “Good but not great. Good but maybe overscheduled. Good enough to win eight.” And lose four. I could well be wrong. (I often am, as you know.) But I don’t think I’m insane.
Then again, if you are crazy, aren’t you usually the last to know?