It’s only Tuesday, and already it’s been a busy week, so, if you’re like me, you don’t have time to waste. Accordingly, I’m going to offer you the short course on events of note in Bulldog Nation and beyond. Either pay attention or take notes, because we’re only going to run through these points once:
When I made my reservation to try my first Chick-fil-A spicy chicken sandwich, I signed up for e-mail alerts from my favorite fast food restaurant. Today, I was sent a link to this video about the chicken sandwich, which had a disproportionately favorable impact upon my mood.
On his way out the door, David Hale was kind enough to introduce us to his successor, Seth Emerson. Personally, I was hoping for a third consecutive David to be working the Georgia Bulldogs beat, but that was probably about as unlikely as a third consecutive Tommy serving as head coach of the Clemson Tigers. Welcome aboard, Seth!
How bad was Willie Martinez’s defense last season? It was bad enough to justify hiring Todd Grantham as our new defensive coordinator, but it still may not have been as bad as you think. Meanwhile, Team Speed Kills sets forth the known knowns and known unknowns regarding the ‘Dawgs.
Unsurprisingly, the 2001 SEC championship game qualified as Rocky Top Talk’s worst loss of the last 20 years for the Tennessee Volunteers. Will makes an excellent point about the sea change this marked in modern conference history:
From 1989-2001, Tennessee went 128-29-3 (.815), won four SEC Championships, played in twelve January 1 bowls, and won the 1998 National Championship. And on December 8, 2001, the Vols were one step away from playing for another.
Though the Vols wrote a nice epilogue to this era with the Citrus Bowl beatdown of Michigan, Tennessee's fall from grace had begun. From 2002-2009, Tennessee is 64-38 (.627), with a pair of division titles but no wins in Atlanta, and three January 1 bowls along with two losing seasons.
This game also changed the scope of the SEC: one week after Tennessee sent Steve Spurrier out with a loss in his final game in The Swamp, Nick Saban started Phillip Fulmer's long goodbye. The torch was passed from Florida and Tennessee, who owned the league and contended for National Championships in the mid-to-late-90s, in the name of parity. Saban and LSU got it started, Georgia followed up with its first division title the next year, LSU won a National Championship in 2003, Auburn went undefeated in 2004, and along we went.
Consider that in the first nine SEC Championship Games from 1992-2000, only four teams made multiple appearances (Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee) and only three teams won it. In the last nine SEC Championship Games, six teams have been to Atlanta more than once (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee) and five teams have won it.
Those are very valid observations. I, for one, was rooting hard for Tennessee in that game. I was already making plans to buy a bumper sticker that read: "Georgia Bulldogs 26, National Champions 24."
While we don’t exactly have a classified ads section here at Dawg Sports, a relative requested that I pass along the word that he is selling his customized 1985 Allegro RV, which features red and white exterior, a large "G" on one side, "Go Dawgs" across the front, "Bulldogs" on the rear (where "Allegro" once appeared), and custom Georgia curtains, upholstery, wallpaper, and carpet. Despite having made the trek to Athens, Jacksonville, and Oxford, this camping/tailgating vehicle has only approximately 75,000 miles on it. If you’re interested, say so in the comments, and I’ll contact you privately to put you in touch with the owner.
As far-reaching as the NCAA investigation into agents appears to be, the Bulldogs’ involvement in the scandal evidently is waning rather than waxing. Investigators are interested in interviewing a single Georgia student-athlete, and it may just be to obtain information rather than to level accusations. This is looking more and more like it’s a long run for a short slide.
If that sounds suspiciously like good news to you, relax; I’ll spare you the suspense and proceed directly to the dropping of the other shoe. You’ve read about this already, but senior linebacker Akeem Dent had toe surgery this morning. The procedure will sideline him for up to six weeks, which is more than merely mildly disconcerting with fewer than 40 days remaining until kickoff.
Given how wild an offseason it has been, though, it would be foolish for us to suppose that we’re in for an uneventful final month. Accordingly, I have posed the poll question that follows, in order to determine what disaster lurks around the last corner ere football season begins.