Georgia Fans–Let’s Talk About the “Elephant” In The Room
My Fellow Georgia fans, we need to talk.
A new football season begins in a mere (67) days. Most of the us as Georgia fans would agree that there’s a lot to look forward to, including an offense that has the potential to be one of the most potent in years, a (mostly) promising new defense, and a renewed belief in the power of the Red and Black.
But with so much ahead of us, I’m afraid there might be a bit of a distraction that is making us look back, perhaps a more than we should. A bit of Bulldog Baggage that might need to be dispatched with.
Not that clinging to past glories as well as goof-ups a little too tightly has ever been a problem for us, right, my fellow ‘Dawgs?
For years, our conference rivals and regional foes have mocked us for fixating on a certain running back from Wrightsville and a miracle play at the Cocktail Party that secured our National Title bid. That happened over 30 years ago. Then there’s those of us who endured Georgia Football in the the ‘90s. These were the days of “Play Away Ray” Goff and the painfully unfulfilled potential of the Donnan years. Sometimes it seems that this lost generation of Georgia fans still carries that weight on their psyche, often deep down still unsure that we could ever be among the College Football elite. Even now. (Ask people who were in Athens in the ‘90s and they’ll likely tell you that back then dreaming big was a 8-4 season and a Carquest Bowl appearance.)
One way or the other, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve frequently been guilty of a collective preoccupation with the past, whether remembering it too fondly or too bitterly.
But now, there’s one thing hanging over our collective heads, although this time it is a single night not so long ago. It had moments of ecstasy only to end in agony. And I think it’s time address it once and for all and move on. It’s that proverbial Elephant in the Room. Or perhaps the “Elephant” that we faced on the field on that first day of December last year.
Of course I’m referring to the 2012 SEC Title Game…the true National Championship Game.
I don’t need to rehash the details too much. But everyone knows what that game meant to us. Everyone agrees that it was an important moment not only considering the stakes (a shot at a national title, which would’ve been poetic considering it would’ve been against Notre Dame, just like the last one) but also that it made us believe–finally–that we deserved to be there.
It was also a loss that cut deeper than anything I’ve ever seen. And the effects are still lingering. There are still stories out there about it despite that it was over 6 months ago. Check out any YouTube video of the game and you’ll likely find fresh comments still rolling in. From fans on all sides, too.
The fascination as well as the devastation that still remains is understandable, for both players and fans. I completely understand when Mike Bobo recently told the players that they were probably “never gonna get over it” and had to just “learn to live with it”. I get why Aaron Murray eventually stopped watching the last play video while Chris Conley has watched it repeatedly in an effort to process it all.
I have to say I get it on a personal level….I mean, it’s not like I haven’t found myself watching the last 1 minute and 51 seconds of that game over and over while listening to Steely Dan’s classic song “Deacon Blues” refer to the Crimson Tide as the “winners in the world”… (with the protagonist of the song professing to want a name when he loses…)
OK, maybe that’s just me. In fact I’m sure it is. (You don’t need to tell me how weird and nerdy that reference is, not to mention it making me sound very old–I already know!)
But there’s a difference between the players, coaches, and fans here. The players and coaches lived this game in a way we never will. They have the right to deal with things in their own way. But as for us fans, well….I think we have an obligation to put it all in proper perspective before the 2013 season starts.
In other words, Bulldog Nation, it’s time for some Tough Love.
This I will consider my final word on it all:
–We played our hearts out. We matched what was thrown at us. They just got one more lucky break than we did. Plain and simple. It could’ve easily gone the other way. Even the usually overconfident Nick Saban probably needed a drink after this one, saying that the last quarter gave him “a heart attack”.
–There was complete respect on both sides of the football, which unless it’s Bowl Season is often hard to come by in the SEC. Even now, whenever I meet a ‘Bama fan I get nothing but warm regard, and always give it right back. That this still happens as though the game was last Saturday shows that this was a truly one for the ages. We should remember to feel privileged to have been a part of it.
— The “Spike the Ball” talk has to stop. Right now. And for good. So there might have been a way stop the clock in so doing, and we might’ve had another shot at glory. But just because we might have stopped the clock does not guarantee that the next play might not have been tipped and ruined, too. It doesn’t guarantee that a turnover might not have happened. And as likely as it would’ve been, it does NOT guarantee that we would’ve gone to the title and steamrolled Notre Dame. OK, in all honesty we probably would’ve, but that’s not the point. The point is not to assume that altering one call would’ve meant everything else would’ve stayed the same. Change one thing and who knows what kind of butterfly effect it might have precipitated. The truth is we’ll never know what might have happened. Ever.
–And that is OK. It has to be.
–We almost got there. This would’ve been inconceivable three years ago. Or five years ago. Lord knows it would’ve been a pipe dream 15 years ago! The best thing that came of this is that we can now believe that we are capable of great things, that we deserve to be on the National Stage, and that we will continue to be a contender. Even when it we started showing up at SEC title games on a regular basis in the last few years, a genuine shot at a national title seemed as likely my winning The Voice. Now I believe we can make it to the ultimate College Football contest (though I don’t hold out hope for my making team Blake or team Adam any time soon…) and believing is an essential part of the journey.
So Georgia fans, I feel your pain. And your joy. Seriously, I do. But it’s all in the way that you interpret it. I see this game as the ultimate motivation, a harbinger of good things to come, a prelude for what might well be a magical season. But all the same in the past. This is one way to look at it.
Or we could just fuss and fume about firing coaches, Spiking Balls, and bemoaning how it will be another 32 years before we have prayer for another National Title. Doesn’t sound like much fun to me.
The choice is yours, my fellow fans….make it the right one!
Next week…..Who are the most loyal fans in the SEC? The answer may surprise you!
–Jennifer Rohner, Chief Cultural Correspondent