Georgia coach Mark Richt said his program is moving on from the “heartbreak” of Saturday’s SEC Championship game loss and “getting back to work.”
“You know what? We spent ourselves in a worthy cause,” Richt said Sunday night. “We of course wanted to play for the national championship. We knew we were just a couple of yards away, maybe a couple of seconds away or a tipped ball away or however you want to say it. We were at least in position to win it.
“It was heartbreaking, no doubt. We were all highly, highly hurt by it. … We just came up short. It was one of those games where either team could have won. So you’ve got to kind of get over the heartbreak of that. And I’ve always had the ability to understand what the reality is and move on.
“We’re already out recruiting. We’re getting back to work.”
Despite the dashed dream of playing for the national championship, Richt said he expects his 11-2 team to be enthused about its trip to Orlando for the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl against Nebraska.
“We’ve got a new goal in sight: We’re excited to try to get 12 wins,” Richt said.
Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity acknowledged that the day after the SEC title game was a difficult one in Bulldog Nation.
“I know we’re all still hurting a little bit right now,” McGarity said. “But the sun came up … and there’s nothing we can do about it but learn from it and move forward.”
How coaches ranked Dogs
After Georgia’s 32-28 loss to Alabama, voters in the USA Today coaches’ poll ranked the Bulldogs everywhere from No. 2 to No. 11.
The highest vote cast for Georgia was by Vanderbilt’s James Franklin, who had the Bulldogs No. 2 (behind Alabama and ahead of Notre Dame).
The lowest votes cast for Georgia were by Baylor’s Art Briles and Washington’s Steve Sarkisian, both of whom had the Bulldogs No. 11.
Richt and Alabama’s Nick Saban voted Georgia No. 3 — ahead of Florida, which both put No. 4.
Coaches’ individual ballots were released for the first time this season, per customary procedure on the final poll before the bowls.
Overall, Georgia was ranked No. 5 in the coaches’ poll. In the other two components of the BCS standings, Georgia was ranked No. 5 by the Harris Poll but an average of No. 11 by the computers. That added up to an overall BCS ranking of No. 7.
Conference limit to be eliminated
The rule that kept Georgia from playing in any of the four BCS bowls (Rose, Sugar, Fiesta and Orange) will be scrapped when college football goes to its new playoff system in the 2014 season.
The current rule is that no more than two teams from a conference can go to BCS games in a given season. Alabama, of course, got one of the SEC’s spots this season with its berth in the national title game. Florida moved up to No. 3 in the final BCS standings, clinching the SEC’s second spot because of a rule that stipulates a team ranked in the top four automatically gets a BCS invitation unless two other teams from its league are ranked higher. Georgia is the highest-ranked team not in a BCS game.
McGarity noted that the SEC has six of the top 10 teams in the BCS standings — but only two of the 10 spots in BCS games.
“It’s obviously being corrected in 2014, so a number of individuals thought that was not a fair way to treat conferences,” McGarity said. “I think the way it’s set in 2014 will reward those conferences that have the ability to place teams in the top 10.”
Under the 2014 model, there is no specific limit on how many teams from a conference can make the four-team playoff and the other top-tier bowls, although various arrangements between leagues and bowls will still be a factor.
ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who sharply criticized the inclusion of Northern Illinois in a BCS game (Orange Bowl), scoffed at the current two-per-league limit. “Who came up with this rule?” he asked on air Sunday night.
Herbstreit added: “To leave teams out like Georgia and … Texas A&M and Oklahoma, all of us want to see those teams in games that matter, and you’re going to give us Northern Illinois.”
‘They call themselves the CornDogs’
Georgia’s bowl opponent, Nebraska, brings back childhood memories for Richt.
“It’s kind of personal for me in that I was born in Omaha and my mom and dad grew up in Nebraska and all my cousins on that side of the family are big Husker fans,” Richt said.
“They like the Dogs, too,” he added. “They call themselves the CornDogs, actually — combination of Cornhuskers and Dogs.”
Richt said his family moved from Nebraska to Colorado when he was 7 or 8 and then to Boca Raton, Fla., when he was about 13. But “I still had Nebraska on my mind, really, up until the time I went to college at Miami.”
— Tim Tucker, AJC
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