From all indications, Georgia will end up in the AT&T Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas, after losing to Alabama 32-28 in the SEC Championship game on Saturday. But Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said the Bulldogs should be heading to a BCS bowl.
“I’m going to tell you what, I think it’s a crying shame if Georgia doesn’t go to a BCS bowl,” said Saban, who will take Alabama to its third national championship game in four years. “They should get to go to a BCS bowl game. They played a tremendous game out there today … and could have won at the end just as soon as us. It came down to the last play. So, I mean, it’s just ridiculous.”
Official bowl selections do not come out until Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. with the annual selection show on ESPN. But most projections have No. 4-ranked Florida, which finished the season 11-1 but to the Bulldogs, heading to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl, one of the five BCS bowls.
But if anything, Saban believes the SEC should have three teams in the BCS mix.
“I watch these teams that are 7-5 that are talking about they might go to a BCS game because they won their championship?,” Saban asked incredulously. “Something’s not right here. I don’t know what people think of the SEC… . I just don’t think it’s fair to the Georgia players, coaches and their institution if they don’t go to a BCS game.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt was interviewed before Saban made his remarks in the main interview area at the Georgia Dome. He agreed, but was less emphatic in his stance.
“Well, it’s up to whoever is deciding and I’m not in charge of that,” he said. “But do I think we are worthy of a BCS Bowl? Yes I do. I do.”
Bowl destinations debated
Where the SEC Championship game loser lands is always a matter of great debate. The league put in safeguards a few years ago to make sure the its runner-up doesn’t drop below Atlanta’s Chick-fil-A Bowl.
In this year’s scenarios, it was coming down to the Cotton Bowl and the Capital One Bowl for the loser. Based on the SEC’s bowl agreements, the Capital One gets first selection among the non-BCS teams. Late word Saturday night was that the Orlando bowl had decided to go with Texas A&M and Heisman Trophy frontrunner Johnny Manziel.
If so, that leaves the Cotton to choose between Georgia and LSU. The Chick-fil-A desperately wants the Tigers to come to Atlanta to face Clemson. That would be a much more favorable matchup for the bowl and for the Bulldogs, who open next season on the road against Clemson.
BCS or bust
Had Georgia punched its ticket for the BCS Championship, a huge contingent of the Bulldog Nation would have gone along for the ride.
According to Tim Cearley, Georgia’s director of ticket of operations, the Bulldogs had already doubled their BCS bowl allotment. Applications for Hartman Club contributors – aka, the Bulldogs’ renewable season tickets – for Georgia’s possible bowl destinations went out shortly after the win over Florida. By Friday’s deadline, more than 35,000 tickets had been requested for the Jan. 7 matchup against Notre Dame, Cearly said. Only 17,000 tickets are available for the respective teams.
Between the demand for BCS tickets and those for the SEC Championship game, Cearley and UGA’s ticket office have been pushed to the brink.
“It’s been pretty crazy, but it’s been a fun week,” Cearly said.
Georgia is expected to have tickets available for both the Cotton and Capital One bowls. Call 706-542-1231 or go to georgiadogs.com for information.
Last game heroics?
It’s considered a foregone conclusion that Saturday was Jarvis Jones’ last shot of winning an SEC championship or playing for a BCS title. Though he’s only a junior, he has been projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL draft by several analysts.
“I don’t, man; it’s not decision time for me,” said Jones, who had six tackles and two sacks Saturday. “Right now I’m going to focus on the rest of our season. We’ve still got a couple more weeks.”
There are a few other underclassmen that will have a decision to make between now and the NFL’s declaration deadline in early January. Chief among them is junior inside linebacker Alec Ogletree, who led the Bulldogs with 11 tackles on Saturday, and junior quarterback Aaron Murray.
“I’m not thinking about that right now,” Murray said afterward. “That’s too far in the future. I can’t get this game out of my mind right now.”
They said it
“Hindsight’s easy. I definitely would if I had to do it over have him spike it. We work on that a lot where we get in a formation and try to get a play called really quick and try to give us three chances to get the ball in the end zone. It just didn’t work out that way.”
– Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, taking the blame for the decision not to spike the ball after Arthur Lynch’s first-and-goal catch at the Alabama 8 with 15 seconds to play.
Alec Ogletree returned blocked field goal 55 yards for a touchdown to give Georgia a 21-10 lead at 6:31 in the third quarter. Cornelius Washington recorded the block; the second field goal blocked by Georgia this season and first returned for a touchdown against Alabama since Kentucky in 1997. . . . Georgia converted its first successful fake punt since 2005 early in the first quarter. Tight end Arthur Lynch, manning the up-back position, took the snap and threw a 16-yard pass to senior cornerback Sanders Commings for a first down at the Alabama 20-yard line. It was Commings’ first career catch… . Tight end Jay Rome caught his second career TD pass. … Murray moved past Peyton Manning into second on the SEC list for career TD passes with 90. . . . Former Georgia quarterback David Greene got the biggest ovation during the on-field introduction of “SEC Legends” shortly before kickoff.
COMPLETE COVERAGE OF SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: