Can you hear Porter Wagner, steel guitars a hummin’ and banjos a strummin,’ “Just a Rose Will do.” Such entertaining lyrics, but if you are a Georgia Dawg, that conclusion now is unfinished business.
DawgNation passionately wanted the Rose Bowl experience and were overjoyed when victory for the second time in 75 years was achieved — but only a second playoff victory will bring about fulfillment.
Now we are reaching for the biggest prize of all, a national championship in the newly minted College Football Playoff. We are playing with the big boys for the big prize. We are in the national spotlight.
Kirby Smart has brought us to where we are because Georgia hired the right coach. There were doubting Thomases that first season, if you can believe that now. He hadn’t put photos up in his office before there were fault finders.
He’s trying to do too much. He’s coaching too many positions. He’s all over the place—this from the same critics who said Mark Richt never displays any emotion. He never shows any excitement.
What does this say about that — simply that today’s fans are more vocal than ever. More critical than ever. More impatient than ever.
“College football fans make it tough on everybody today,” said Gary Stokan, the executive director of the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, “but boy don’t we love them.”
That translates into the fact that fans are spending big money to support their teams and big games. There have been critics since Adam and Eve got kicked out of the Garden of Eden, but everybody has a forum today. All you have to do is stand up and shout into your iPhone.
We are striding thru what could be the most telling fortnight in Georgia football history. Winning back to back games would give Georgia a status that could bring about the greatness that some insiders have felt was there for the taking. What program in the SEC has greater access to talent. Florida? Texas A&M?
Perhaps, but if Georgia dominates its own state, then annually competing for championships should ensue.
What program has an Atlanta in its back yard? What program can raise more money than Georgia? For years, Georgia has earned more licensing dollars than any non-national championship team.
“If you consider the raw potential, you couldn’t have it any better than what you have at the University of Georgia,” said Johnny Majors, who thinks Georgia is one of the top five coaching jobs in the country, maybe top three.
He has espoused this view for years. Other coaches have weighed in with similar opinions.
In the 1940s with his successful recruiting in Ohio and Pennsylvania, owing, in part, to former players getting Coca-Cola bottling jobs in locations around the country, it looked as if Wallace Butts had a dynasty in the making. Then World War II came along.
He picked up where he left off after the war, winning two SEC titles and a national championship, but fell on hard times in the 1950s, which were not kind to him. He wasn’t the same man or the same coach. He rallied to finish strong with a fourth SEC title in 1959 before resigning.
After three losing seasons, Vince Dooley came on with a flourish and had a hot hand in the 1960s but experienced up and down seasons before the brilliant dominance of the Herschel era. You have to give Vince high marks for his body of work. He has the track record to substantiate his Hall of Fame career.
Vince was 31 years old when he started out and grew in the job, but he was never as comfortable with people as Kirby. Kirby is indefatigable; he can make the tough decision, Kirby has an old shoe fit with people. He has more social skills than any coach out there.
The Rose Bowl had not been history for more than an hour when he emerged from the shower, lamenting that while he was grateful for victory, his team could not make the mistakes it made against Oklahoma and win in Atlanta.
Great for the fans. Great for ESPN and maybe great for fund-raising (His words, not mine which reflects how he thinks. He is always looking ahead).
It was not coach-speak, it was an honest assessment. The Bulldogs came back from their long holiday layoff stale and rusty. He was colossally bothered by that. No time to enjoy a classic victory. Alabama will be the best team Georgia will have played all year.
Experiencing sleepless nights, Kirby will put more into the championship game preparation than any coach or player on the Georgia team. He will give more of himself, he will expect more of himself and he will deflect any and all praise. Now he will be matching wits with his mentor. There are no rash predictions to emanate from this corner, but I think the Georgia team is in good hands for its final game.