The window was real.
The moment the window opened is tough to pinpoint.
You could say the window opened the moment Urban Meyer left Florida in the dark of the night because he was letting the game slowly kill him.
You could say the window opened the second Tennessee hired Lane Kiffin, setting off a series of dominoes that included couch-burning, butt-chugging, and illegal substitutions.
You could say it opened the moment Todd Gurley signed at Georgia.
Whenever you say it opened, the window was very real.
What is the window, you ask?
The window was the period of time in which Mark Richt’s teams, on paper, should have won the East every single year. And by winning the East, they had a very real shot at earning a spot in the National Championship via a win in Atlanta.
Florida, their primary obstacle to such a feat, had hired a buffoon that I’m proud to say UGA helped produce. Tennessee had also hired a UGA product that was absolute garbage. Both programs were locked in a downward spiral with no signs of pulling out of the dive for a number of years. And yet here was Georgia with a four-year quarterback, a loaded backfield, an incredible stable of receivers, and the weakest SEC East the world had seen since before the days of Steve Spurrier.
The window was real and it was wide open.
We all know the story of how UGA handled this window. ACL’s were torn. Autographs were sold. Field Goals were missed. And a slew of other head-scratching, surrender-cobra worthy moments came to define this window of time.
In short, UGA managed just two SEC Championship appearances after 2005. One a blowout loss to LSU, the other a loss to Alabama that shall not be discussed further. All while Missouri, of all teams, emerged as the most consistent power in the Eastern Division. They could have, and many would say ‘ought to have’, been the East’s representative for five straight years from 2010 until 2014.
Think about that for a moment and feel the rage.
UGA will not be going back to the SEC Championship game this year, with Saturday’s loss to Florida all but sealing the Division title for the Gators.
This is not to say that the Dawgs won’t make it next year, after all Jacob Eason is coming to save us. But winning the Eastern Division next year will certainly be a tougher ask than it has been for the past five years.
Tennessee, who also beat UGA in spectacular fashion, is clearly back. In fact, the scary thing about Tennessee is that their true talent base is just now finishing their sophomore or freshman years. The Vols were never an easy victory, but this year was a harsh reminder of just how easy we’ve had when the boys in orange come to town.
Still, a revived Tennessee is scary but they are not terrifying. Tennessee, after all, does have to play Alabama every year.
The real terror is that both Tennessee and Florida are reviving at the same time, and at a pace that is turning out to be much faster than the experts predicted.
Florida’s revival has not been the long, torturous Windows-95-ish restart that we all hoped it would be. McElwain has walked into a dominant defense, a serviceable offense, and, frankly, a toothless main rival that is basically a sure division win. They will recruit well. They will be better than fine, it seems, for the foreseeable future.
Now, most folks have defended Mark Richt because, hey, at least we aren’t back in the Goff or Donnan years, right? But the scary thing is to realize that both Goff and Donnan were beset by a situation similar to the one I see developing now — dominant teams from Tennessee and Florida.
Goff could never get his program off the ground mostly because he wasn’t a very good coach, but add to that problem peak Steve Spurrier and peak Phil Fulmer in your own division? Goff was never going to get out of that division alive, even if he had been a coaching phenom.
And a phenom he was not.
Now this isn’t to say that Mark Richt is Ray Goff or Jim Donnan.
It is only to say this: Mark Richt’s window has probably closed and does not look to be reopening any time soon.
That’s not Mark Richt’s fault, per se. It is simply the most accurate interpretation of the facts as I see them.
The next few years won’t be pretty. UGA won’t fire Mark Richt. Mark Richt may or may not retire. But from where I sit, Richt appears out of answers. There is very little to be done about any of this, sadly.
All that remains is to wait it out.
I will be contributing to the Gwinnett Daily Post’s coverage of the Georgia Bulldogs this season. I’m looking forward to the opportunity and appreciative of the challenge that will be presented by writing for someone within the constraints of mass-consumption. As much as I enjoy winging it and writing what I want to write when I want to write it how I want to write it, a little accountability will likely prove beneficial.
This will not affect DudeYouCrazy.net in any way. I’ll still be here. I’ll still be writing more than you want me to. I’ll still be ticking off Clemson fans and tweeting puns about Vanderbilt. But I’ll also be writing some more serious/formal pieces for the GDP.
With that said, my first article at the Post went up late last night. Please check it out.
That’s all I got/
I’m about to begin the trek home and will have a full recap of the Capital One Bowl up tonight or tomorrow morning at the latest. In the mean time here is some footage I captured yesterday following the game. Enjoy.
Georgia players celebrate as Geno Smith begins to frantically look for the hats and t-shirts.
Aaron Murray high-fives the crowd on his way out of the stadium.
Jarvis Jones explains Alec Olgetree’s big play during the post-game press conference.
Aaron Murray talks about Georgia’s high-powered offense.
Mark Richt discusses the future of Georgia football.
Is this the end of an era? Mark Richt, Aaron Murray and Jarvis Jones leave the Bulldogs’ final press conference of the season.
That’s all I got/
Here are a few completely random notes (wth audio at the end) from the Capital One Bowl Kickoff Luncheon Press Conference:
- In attendance: Jeff Schultz from the AJC, Seth Emerson (one of my favorite beat writers), Chuck Dowdle – the legend, Greg McGarity and many others. A laid back room.
- Richt opened by saying that he thought Jarvis Jones’ got things right regarding the Dawgs’ need to prepare in the midst of all the outside activities going on. In general he felt Georgia did a good job of practicing when they needed to practice and having fun when they needed to have fun, but ended with, “We’ll see if we did enough.”
- Richt identified the need to end a bowl leasing streak as a major motivator.
- Despite the 70-point allowance to Wisconsin Richt feels Nebraska has a solid defense and is aware of what a Bo Pellini defense can be (Pellini was the man at LSU in 2005).
- Richt says, “A good back can’t be knocked down,” in reference to wrapping up.
- He stressed, “We’re not losing everybody,” on defense and alluded to the athleticism and speed of the returning talent on that side of the ball. Also mentioned that Georgia has similar questions regarding the offensive line this year, and that worked out fine.
- Richt is very concerned with the 37 minute period between the pregame warmup and the actual kick-off. Typically that period is 20 minutes. He says it’s hard to gety hyped up and maintain that energy without fatigue setting in. The alternative is coming out flat.
- Also of note: the Special Teams coach topic was talked about at length, but Richt didn’t allude to any major changes in philosophy.
That’s all I got/
Just before the Capital One Bowl Kickoff Luncheon today, the head coaches of Georgia and Nebraska held a press conference. Here are some photos with quotes and audio to follow later this afternoon.
Before things begin…
A group of 50-60 people hang around and wait for the coaches to take the stage. Mark Richt was up first and the pressure was more than this distressed gentleman could handle…
Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity was there enjoying a Diet Coke while DudeYouCrazy got everything settled.
I number of other gentlemen were there trying to intimidate me with the size of their cameras. I wasn’t intimidated.
Mark Richt was the first coach to speak. He wore a suite and fielded questions for about 20 minutes.
When he was done Bo Pellini came out and the few met for about 90 seconds to tell secrets.
They then made their way onto the stage…
For a photo op. I took advantage.
After the Richt-ing…
Mark Richt then left the stage. As he did so, he walked hard.
After he was done, Bo Pellini fielded questions for no more than three minutes (not his fault – nobody asked him anything) before I got a chance to take a photo of the trophy.
Check back in a few minutes for more details on the press conference itself.
That’s all I got/