Of two raging mediocrities, which is worse – Tech or UGA?

Alas, it has been thumbs-down for both programs in 2010. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Alas, it has been thumbs-down for both programs in 2010. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

There’s a chance Georgia and Georgia Tech could finish 6-6, which is the utter definition of mediocrity. Yet not all mediocrities are created equal, and therefore we ask: Of the two, which has had the worse season? (That’s a bit different than deciding which team is less bad.) And the answer, my friends, is — borrowing a famous description from the former Tennessee voice John Ward — not … even … close.

National expectations: Tech, 5-5, was 16th in the Associated Press preseason poll. Georgia, 5-6, was 23rd. Demerit to Tech.

Local expectations: Georgia was picked to finish second in the East by the SEC media and will finish third. Tech was picked to finish third in the Coastal by the ACC media and is fourth with one conference game remaining. Half-demerit to each.

Manpower: Georgia returned 10 of 11 offensive starters and had the highly regarded Aaron Murray ready to step in at quarterback. Tech lost four of its five best players from its 2009 ACC championship team to the NFL a year early. Demerit to Georgia.

Conference competition: The ACC is again no great shakes. But the SEC East was the weakest it has ever been: Florida finished 4-4 in league play and South Carolina won the division with three league losses, and still Georgia was mathematically eliminated from contention on Oct. 30. Tech wasn’t eliminated until Saturday. Demerit to Georgia.

Staff changes: Tech dumped defensive coordinator Dave Wommack and hired Al Groh, who had been fired as Virginia’s head coach. Georgia dumped Willie Martinez and hired Todd Grantham, paying him$750,000 (or more than double Martinez’s salary.) Tech was 54th nationally in total defense last season and is 59th now. Georgia was 38th in total defense last season and is 24th now, but collapsed in its two biggest games. The Bulldogs yielded 34 points in four quarters plus one overtime to a Florida offense that managed 42 points in 16 quarters against Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State and South Carolina. On Saturday Georgia yielded four second-half touchdowns to Auburn, which threw four second-half passes (all on the same drive), and somehow Grantham maintained to reporters: “The biggest issue in the second half was what I call gadget plays.” Demerit to Georgia.

Coaching: Tech is 2-2 in games decided by seven or fewer points. Georgia is 0-3. Demerit to Georgia.

Recruiting: According to Rivals.com, Georgia’s past five signing classes have ranked fourth, ninth, seventh, sixth and 15th nationally. Tech’s highest-rated signing class of that span was in 2007 — at No. 18. Tech’s past three signing classes have been ranked 49th, 49th and 43rd. So why, if Georgia recruits so much better, are we even having this discussion? Demerit to Georgia.

Which has been the bigger flop?

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Mitigating factor: Tech has been without Joshua Nesbitt, its best player, the past game and a half. It lost both games. Georgia was without A.J. Green, its best player, for the season’s first four games. It lost three of them. Key difference: Nesbitt was lost to a broken arm suffered on the field of play, Green because he sold his Independence Bowl jersey for $1,000. Demerit to Georgia.

Best win: Tech beat North Carolina, which was without 12 players due to various investigations, in Chapel Hill on Sept. 25. Georgia beat Kentucky, which had just beaten South Carolina, in Lexington on Oct. 23. Carolina is 6-4, Kentucky 6-5. Half-demerit to each.

Worst loss: This wasn’t decided until Colorado faced Kansas on Nov. 6. Tech had lost to the Jayhawks on Sept. 11;, Georgia had fallen to the Buffaloes on Oct. 2. Both Big 12 schools entered their showdown in Lawrence without a conference victory. Colorado led 45-17 in the fourth quarter. Kansas won 52-45. Colorado fired coach Dan Hawkins two days later. Demerit to Georgia.

Embarrassment: Georgia has had 11 players arrested this calendar year and saw Green suspended by the NCAA. Tech has had, so far as we know, one player arrested. And Georgia’s high-salaried defensive coordinator was caught on camera giving the choke sign to Florida’s backup placekicker before he made the kick that beat the Bulldogs in overtime. (Does a field goal by a backup kicker constitute a “gadget play”?) Demerit to Georgia.

Totals: Nine demerits to Georgia, two to Tech. The belief remains that Georgia will beat Tech in Athens on Nov. 27 –Nesbitt won’t play, remember — but that won’t change the bottom line. In this face-off of fizzled seasons, the Bulldogs have been the bigger dud.

550 comments Add your comment

You tell me

November 15th, 2010
10:33 am

I will answer that when you answer who at AJC has been the biggest flop of a sportswriter? That is an even tougher question

Pete

November 15th, 2010
10:33 am

Barry

November 15th, 2010
10:33 am

First among mediocrities.

Outside Observer

November 15th, 2010
10:33 am

Both teams end up 6-6. Tech is really struggling to do anything positive lately.

DJ C@M

November 15th, 2010
10:33 am

LOL

November 15th, 2010
10:33 am

I love the uber-hacky company line at the AJC that Grantham is the worst person in the history of football. Meanwhile, the paper covers for Nick Fairley, Chris Rainey, and a host of other fine young gentlemen.

Really, just precious. Their actions are on your hands, Bradley/Schultz.

Objective Observer

November 15th, 2010
10:37 am

You tell me, that’s an interesting question. Schultz and his adorable Tech love is tough to beat. One wonders….when the AJC has to close up its Dunwoody shop and move even further out of town to make ends meet, who’s first to be dumped? Schultz? Bradley? The bajillion dollars they’re paying Tony Barnhart to be the David Broder of college football?

Jacket Backer

November 15th, 2010
10:37 am

Both teams stink this year but I don’t see how ga can be 5-6 with the talent they bring in.

EDawg71

November 15th, 2010
10:38 am

Fairley is NFL ready. That helmet to back hit on Murray was vicious…he’ll fit right in!

MURPHY

November 15th, 2010
10:38 am

Guess we will know in 2 weeks which is worst.

sogadog

November 15th, 2010
10:38 am

Despite the fact I am a Dawg fan I agree. “Mediocrity” is too soft a term. Lets just say it, Georgia sucks this year.

Summit Dawg

November 15th, 2010
10:38 am

I’m a big Dawg fan, but don’t think UGA or Tech deserve to go to ANY bowl!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Reality

November 15th, 2010
10:40 am

“You tell me” could have just said “first!”. Instead he sounds like a bitter woman by lashing out at Bradley for telling the truth.

Athens Mike

November 15th, 2010
10:40 am

Yep. Did anyone really expect Georgia’s season to be that great though? Tech won the ACC last year. Safe to say, though, both teams have some work to do in the off season.

Jimmy John

November 15th, 2010
10:40 am

Georgia needs to clean house. Richt needs to carry his a$$ to Colorado; he will fit much better with the Pac 10/12 style of play.

misterwax

November 15th, 2010
10:41 am

GT has had farther to fall and has done so in total confusion of defense…. they have just mailed it in during most games….really depressing….and they never should have let those Olinemen go to Ga. State…what a boner play.

Objective Observer

November 15th, 2010
10:41 am

I should also add that it would behoove the AJC to continue- promote, even- the services of copy editors and researchers to keep spelling/grammatical/fact errors out of the paper. It’s especially difficult given someone like Schultz being a hack AND a lousy writer, but hey- maybe can Schultz, then? Just a thought.

As for the original question, well, the AJC trashed Georgia preseason and still pretends like Paul Johnson is the future of college football. Given that, well, it’s obviously Trek. Again. As always.

Dawglasville

November 15th, 2010
10:42 am

Fine, Mark. I don’t think anyone in this state will not predict UGA to win by anything less than 14 when we play. I really believe that we are going to beat the brakes off of them. That said, we, like UF, Texas, Michigan, Notre Dame, Miami, FSU, Penn State should be much better than we are.

te29wr

November 15th, 2010
10:42 am

Bradley or Schultz I vote Bradley everyone else vote your choice

Not Don Waddell

November 15th, 2010
10:43 am

It’s 1996 all over again. There is absolutely no excuse for both teams in the 4th most talent-rich state in America to be this terrible. It’s just an absolute embarrassment, and I bet that there will not be 80,000 folks in Athens for the game.

One thing that needs to be mentioned when talking about conference competition and recruiting rankings. Yes, UGA has had what look to be lofty rankings in recruiting over the years that you mentioned, but it must also be considered that while they may have finished 9th, 7th, 6th and 15th nationally, they were finishing behind 4 or 5 of their conference foes during that time.

The SEC East is still much tougher than the ACC. The SEC West is just much, much better this year, and most of the East’s losses have been in the crossover games.

This game feels just like 1996.

Top Dawg

November 15th, 2010
10:43 am

Mark: I like your columns. Don’t listen to these guys. Dawgs stink this year (and olfactory senses registered bad last year too).

YARDDAWG

November 15th, 2010
10:43 am

The much better question is who has a brighter future.

GTSteve

November 15th, 2010
10:43 am

My initial though was the UGA was more under-achieving this year because of the highly ranked recruiting classes, but the SEC competition is much higher…..so who knows, but regardless, they are both having horrible seasons, but I’ll say UGA is probably the best 5-6 team in the country

82Dawg

November 15th, 2010
10:43 am

I will agree that UGA was the bigger disappointment since they are expected year in and year out to be the better of the two programs. BUT the real question is who is the bigger disappoint in writers Bradley or Schultz in the way they like to stir the pot?

Zoomie

November 15th, 2010
10:43 am

I’ll never forget the deer-in-the-headlights look of the UGA coaching staff when Auburn started the second half with a successful on-side kick. UGA’s biggest problem is a staff that continually gets outcoached. Not good for a SEC head coach with the tenure of Mark Richt.

Having said that: I watched the GT/Miami game last Saturday. UGA is going to kill the Yellow Jackets . . .

ol' balls coach

November 15th, 2010
10:43 am

Expectations for both were a lot higher than the finish – nevertheless, UGA plays in the SEC, GT plays in the TNC (Thursday Night Conference – kinda like junior varsity).

Top Dawg

November 15th, 2010
10:43 am

Terrance Moore was terrible, and he’s gone, by the way.

godawg

November 15th, 2010
10:44 am

Georgia has to be the bigger flop. When Tech has a bad year it’s really no surprise.:-)

RAMBLE ON!!!

November 15th, 2010
10:44 am

lets just get this season over with.

Ginger

November 15th, 2010
10:45 am

Article a lot of info but not very much substance. The question can be answered without all the stats. UGA has been a bigger disappointment…but we expect more out of the Dogs than the Jackets. The Dogs have the better overall program so we are falling from a higher point thus a bigger disappointment. Do think that the SEC east is stronger that ACC….so hard to compare apples to oranges….they have not played any common opponents

Would rather read an story that says something like UGA and Tech have had disappointing seasons–what can be done to fix the problems and let’s look at changes that can be made to make things better.

Cobb Dawg

November 15th, 2010
10:45 am

Georgia Tech has had the worst season. Georgia would still be sitting at 9-2 even in a down year if we were playing the ACC.

Michigandawg

November 15th, 2010
10:46 am

When will we know the start time of the UGA/Tech game?

jarvis

November 15th, 2010
10:47 am

Some might say you picked Georgia because no one would have commented if you had picked Tech.

Prennie Dawg

November 15th, 2010
10:47 am

Georgia Tech can only beat Georgia if Josh Nesbitt decides to play with a broken arm.

5150 P.O.A.D

November 15th, 2010
10:47 am

UGA just got some of their KARMA with that Butt Kicking. UGA has been dirty for years. UGA just has had KARMA coming back the last 2 years.
Yes, UGA fans Karma is a B…h! How does it feel? HAHAHAHHAHHA

Not Don Waddell

November 15th, 2010
10:48 am

And, by the way, the worst indictment of UGA’s program is that someone did not take the Fairley kid out of the game after the 2nd or 3rd cheap shot he took on Murray. This program has no toughness, and for an offensive lineman to stand there while some punk is late-hitting his QB is inexcusable. Harvey Dahl would have karate kicked Fairley in the throat after that spear in the back.

5 stars equals 6 losses

November 15th, 2010
10:48 am

I realize UGA has the most 4-5 stars that up to this point have only won 5 but if they cannot win 6, that would be pathetic

MastersJacket

November 15th, 2010
10:48 am

My question: If GT loses to Duke, should the last regular season game be cancelled so that no one has to watch either of these teams during the holidays?

Bud

November 15th, 2010
10:48 am

Dawg H8R

November 15th, 2010
10:48 am

Jawja is the bigger flop. They have more “talent” on average and they
underachieve. Dawgs suck.

GO GAMECOCKS!!!!!!!

sUGAr daddy DAWG

November 15th, 2010
10:48 am

Packing peanuts is all that’s left in the box. Nothing else new here.

Herschel Talker

November 15th, 2010
10:48 am

MB:

So when are you writing the article on why you believe Mark Richt should be fired? We’ve been waiting 3 years to hear this from you.

HT

Dawg H8R

November 15th, 2010
10:49 am

Mortician

November 15th, 2010
10:49 am

I wish Nesbitt would play with the broken arm, UGA would just break it anyway so what is the difference

JSS

November 15th, 2010
10:49 am

Well here are two “Meth whores” calling each other pitiful! Only in the State of Georgia could something this asinine happen!

Billyboy

November 15th, 2010
10:49 am

Which has had the worse season . . . that is easy, clearly the Dawgs have choked more with the Florida game being an easy example. Tech lost their key players and have only a few stars last year, while the Dawgs should have been better. However, the Dawgs are still a better team and will win in 2 weeks.

GTSteve

November 15th, 2010
10:50 am

I agree that Tech has no chance in Athens this year, and might even lose to Duke…the defense is horrible

Jiggy Smaha

November 15th, 2010
10:50 am

We need to go with what Bradley thinkis on this one. If anyone knows mediocrity it is him.

BuzzMan

November 15th, 2010
10:50 am

Hey, mister……How was GT to stop those O-linemen from leaving? They have to be enrolled to play. C’mon, educate yourself. As to this article……I guess you gotta write something of the two big programs in the state, but….the less said the better. This has been a weird season. On CSS, they mentioned that the champions of the ACC, SEC, and Big XII (GT, Bama, and Texas) had all faded this year. Add in UGa, UF, and a bunch of others. No wonder there’s so much Boise State talk (gag)

EDawg71

November 15th, 2010
10:50 am

I’m still not ready to mail it in and dump the Georgia coaching staff. Even the great Saban’s defense struggled in it’s first season in the 3-4 and lost to a lower tier school. Grantham needs a little time and bigger bodies, then we’ll see. More of a concern to me is Searels’ OL and why it’s been down this year.