Aaron Murray stays, which puts Georgia back in the hunt

"Maybe we'll get us one of those crystal trophies next year." (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

"Coach, maybe we'll get us one of those nice crystal trophies next year." (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Fort Lauderdale -- The cream of football journalism had gathered for a media party at our hotel overlooking the ocean — the Atlantic, I believe it is — when esteemed former colleague Mark Schlabach, lately of ESPN, rushed over and said, “Aaron Murray’s staying.” And we managed to tear ourselves away from our paella to ponder where this puts the Georgia Bulldogs headed in the 2013 season. (Never mind that the 2012 campaign has one game to go.)

Pretty darn high, we decided. (I know exactly where Mr. Schlabach has the Bulldogs in his not-yet-published Top 25 for 2013, but I’ll let him do those honors.) I’d say Georgia has again become the favorite to win the SEC East, and I’d say — this is just me — this again puts the Bulldogs at/near the top five.

Figure Alabama will be preseason No. 1. Figure Notre Dame will be up there, too, and Texas A&M. (I sat in on a press conference for award winners later this afternoon, and someone asked the Heisman holder Johnny Manziel if he thought the Aggies would be ranked No. 1 in August. He smiled and said, “I feel like we’ve got a lot of tools coming back.”) And Oregon, now assuming Chip Kelly stays, will be good again, and Stanford and Ohio State and Louisville and Clemson, too. Plus the three best teams in the SEC East, which makes a Top 11, does it not?

But I’d told Noah Coslov of CineSport earlier Sunday that I thought the East would be a three-way tussle involving Georgia, South Carolina and Florida, and that the Gamecocks would hold the edge if Murray left for the NFL. But apparently he’s staying, and he’s a very good college quarterback, and you’d have to think Georgia is again the East’s top dog, pun somewhat intended.

I know, I know. The Bulldogs have to replace nearly their entire defense, and that won’t be easy. But all those banner recruiting classes have created depth, and the offense should be among the very best in the land. The schedule is tough early — Georgia opens at Clemson and must play South Carolina and LSU in September — but if the Bulldogs are going to stay relevant they’re going to have to prove they can handle a more taxing regimen.

I’m not going to go so far as to say Georgia punched its ticket to the 2014 BCS title game one night before the 2013 edition is played. (Crazy as I am, I’m not that crazy.) Still, Murray’s announcement should put the Bulldogs back in the ol’ hunt. They were five yards and five points short of being here. Maybe they’ll find those five yards and five points next time.

(For the record, this marks the second time I’ve ducked away from a BCS media party to react to breaking news. The first was in January 2007, and we were in Scottsdale, Ariz., when word circulated that the Falcons had hired Bobby Petrino. I rushed back to the room and proclaimed it a splendid move. I slightly missed that one.)




By Mark Bradley

222 comments Add your comment

Craigee, aka Champs hero

January 6th, 2013
9:02 pm

JD

January 6th, 2013
9:03 pm

charlie_400

January 6th, 2013
9:04 pm

Dave from Buford

January 6th, 2013
9:07 pm

This is good news … the Dogs are going to have a really good offense, to say the least.

tech_hater

January 6th, 2013
9:09 pm

Great news! Go Dawgs.

We Run This State!

Mark Bradley

January 6th, 2013
9:09 pm

Kudos, Craigee, aka

Steve

January 6th, 2013
9:12 pm

No South Carolina near the top 10? Thanks Mark. Just extra motivation to beat UGA. Again.

Todd grantham

January 6th, 2013
9:13 pm

Aaron Murray: the gift that keeps on giving. And I’m damn glad he’s staying!!

Grantham's The Man!

January 6th, 2013
9:15 pm

Glad Murray will be back. UGA has a great chance to have an elite offense.

If the Defense can rebuild as well as the offense did this year, it may be UGA’s year.

Go Dawgs!!!

7576DAWG

January 6th, 2013
9:18 pm

All we need now is maybe 2 more big lineman good enough to start in 2013 and the Offensive will be the best in the SEC if not the nation.
Now for the Defense? I will let you know after the South Carolina game. Just to say something about the Gamecocks. I predict Clowney will be number 1 in the 2014 draft.

Tampa Dawg

January 6th, 2013
9:18 pm

Outstanding news!! AM should have had six TDs in the Cap One Bowl and continues to get better. Our O will be downright unstoppable next year. If this decision happened to be influenced by some lovely Georgia coeds, thank you ladies! Well played, sir!! See you in the pros next year — maybe here in your home town.

Taco

January 6th, 2013
9:19 pm

He better stay or could get ugly. The defense got shredded versus Alabama and Nebraska and now they lose 9 starters. They will need 50 a game to hold serve.

Huston Mason

January 6th, 2013
9:21 pm

Well this sucks.

Taco

January 6th, 2013
9:21 pm

Please don’t start again with ” this could be the year”. That is so lame and so old. Just shut the ” F “up and watch the games and cheer for the Dawgs.

Snoop Dawg

January 6th, 2013
9:22 pm

Lets not give Bobo a big new contract until we see how he can do without Murray at the controls…

Yeah another letdown for the Dawgs

January 6th, 2013
9:24 pm

Things we know: First the AJC will write about a thousand “Dawgs will win it all” columns, they won’t of course but we will be subjected to it anyway. Second, Murray will fold whenever Ga. plays a team with a dominant Defensive End, like Clowney. Third, Ga. fans spend another off season sure that the next year will be the one.

Hammer

January 6th, 2013
9:24 pm

Clempson and thUGA could not field an SEC-caliber defense if they combined their squads. Take off the red glasses, Mark.

Mark Bradley

January 6th, 2013
9:27 pm

In my haste, I left it unclear that South Carolina would be in my Top 10. I’ve fixed that now.

Paul in NH

January 6th, 2013
9:28 pm

Murray staying is a good move for him and good for UGA. Who knows whether it means a top 5 ranking at the end of 2013. I seem to recall that last year many pundits were writing how Matt Barkley staying in college made USC the favorite for the MNC

drbasic1

January 6th, 2013
9:32 pm

@ another let down

at least there will articles written about the DAWGS, not so much about your pathetic jackets….well maybe in the crimes section….just saying, you know?

Yeah another letdown for the Dawgs

January 6th, 2013
9:34 pm

Sorry, not a Jacket fan. University of South Carolina class of “88″

Todd grantham

January 6th, 2013
9:34 pm

Mark, surprised with your normally self deprecating sense of humor you didn’t write ” the cream of football journalism (and me)…..”

I am confident, however, you are legitimately a part of that cream.

Gene

January 6th, 2013
9:35 pm

Murray is a good quarterback and a good person, but Georgia now has to contend with Alabama and Texas A&M.

drbasic1

January 6th, 2013
9:35 pm

Ga class of 81….you are old enough then to at least be respectful…am sorry to see latimore go, he is quite a young man

daddo

January 6th, 2013
9:35 pm

Murray tweeting from home while Alabama plays for the national championship. And it will be the same thing in 2014, Murray will be home and Alabama will be waiting to play. Georgia will be the sixth best team in the SEC next year, and won’t back into the division title like it did the last two years. Stat boy forever who never wins the big one.

GT Insider

January 6th, 2013
9:35 pm

LOL, ok Mark.

Defense wins championships and a bunch of 1st timers getting their first chacne to play against Clem, USCe, and LSU will not bode well for UGA. LSU is losing a lot, but Clemson and USCe will not be so easy.

I just don’t buy winning championships when UGA is losing nearly every piece on one side of the ball…especially when it’s the side of the ball where championships are won.

A boat race offense is a lucky offense only.

Dawglasville

January 6th, 2013
9:36 pm

Great news. Now Grantham needs to earn his keep.

stendek

January 6th, 2013
9:36 pm

Hi Mark. I rarely laugh out loud at columns. I did at this one! Aaron Murray back so UGA back in hunt? Which hunt are you making reference to my dear friend? Not the SEC championship hunt! Not the national championship hunt! Perhaps a quail hunt at some undisclosed location? That I could believe! Name a signature win by your hero. Moral defeats do not count! Since I respect the late Three Stooges I will only say Saint Mark, Mike Dodo and Pick Six. The few true Dawg fans remaining will understand. Sorry. Still banned from Chip Powerless blog! :(

YoungerThan ThatNow

January 6th, 2013
9:37 pm

Good news MB! I really thought that Murray would stay… most of the others, not so much.

And breaking from a party to report on Petrino coming to the Falcons… I can understand. But, the last part of that (the proclamation) just made me gag a little!

Enjoy south Florida… wish we were there!

OkieDawg

January 6th, 2013
9:37 pm

Thank you AM!!! I hope someday you are the HC @ UGA. You have the smarts and the education with a psychology degree and a Masters in organizational development. Plus an all SEC QB in my opinion. You my friend are a DGD. All SEC records are gonna fall!!!

Todd grantham

January 6th, 2013
9:37 pm

When Georgia’s football program hits the inevitable next rough spot, even the critics will wax fondly and longingly about the Murray Years…

Todd grantham

January 6th, 2013
9:42 pm

The defense really never lived up to its hype so I don’t think 2013 will be like a physical cliff.

OkieDawg

January 6th, 2013
9:43 pm

And you, my friend, will be digging wax out of you’re ears.

stendek

January 6th, 2013
9:44 pm

Long will I remember the drive which upset Bama on the big stage! What? It did? By a few yards? Just forget the whole thing! I am still trying to. :(

OkieDawg

January 6th, 2013
9:44 pm

daddo

January 6th, 2013
9:45 pm

Top 5? U really believe Georgia, with no defense, can beat Alabama, Texas A and M, LSU, South Carolina or Florida? That makes u SIXTH just in the conference.

drbasic1

January 6th, 2013
9:45 pm

Why you people dis so much on Murray? The young man has more class in his anus than most of you show on here. Cutting down another human being regardless is total classless. I am sure any of you could do so much better. Stendek…what is your resume son….couch potato?….arm chair qback?….playstation guru?

Todd grantham

January 6th, 2013
9:45 pm

Ok Mark. Lets think about this. You’re at ft lauderdale. That’s boats. Your at a party. That’s booze. Also, that’s broads. The 3 deadly B’s. you’re not in Vegas where everything……..

stendek

January 6th, 2013
9:47 pm

Would anyone remember Joe Namath had the underdog Jets come up a few yards short against the Colts in that Super Bowl? I think not! :( I understand that goes over heads of faux Dawg fans. Not those of seniority!

dlh82

January 6th, 2013
9:49 pm

bombers away. now tackle somebody

Todd grantham

January 6th, 2013
9:50 pm

@okiedawg. What’s the matter sport? Couldn’t find a job in Georgia?

stendek

January 6th, 2013
9:51 pm

Vandy will win an SEC championship before a UGA team led by Saint Mark Richt and Mike Dodo! :(

drbasic1

January 6th, 2013
9:51 pm

stendek…I have forgotten more about Broadway Joe than you would ever know about him. Your such a goober

stendek

January 6th, 2013
9:53 pm

The UGA QB – who shall remain nameless – was abysmal against Steve Spurrier and Florida! One was a win by the maligned defense. :)

Todd grantham

January 6th, 2013
9:58 pm

I wonder what Hutson Mason is thinking at this minute.

[...] http://blogs.ajc.com/mark-bradley-bl…k-in-the-hunt/ Yes yes yes yes yes!!! Murray coming back for his Senior season! [...]

dlh82

January 6th, 2013
9:59 pm

First game Murray or Mason at Clemson. Thats what I thought. Another 3000 yds in the air and 1500 on the ground will help rebuild the d. I can’t wsit.

cloudodust

January 6th, 2013
10:00 pm

Murray putting in his 4th year is smart. It can only up his net worth at the next level. QB’s like Bray that bail after 3 have a shot but that 4th year is money. Plus, those post-graduate studies may come in helpful. Ask Peyton Manning etc what that 4th year is worth.

drbasic1

January 6th, 2013
10:02 pm

@cloudodust

Very well said!!

stendek

January 6th, 2013
10:04 pm

Best Mark…