Evidently, some are taking exception to the level of excellence that I expect out of our football program. Vineyarddawg even threw out what he considered to be the ultimate insult. He said I was acting "just like an Alabama fan". Apparently, fans of the Crimson Tide have "insanely high expectations" which border on unobtainable. In essence, they expect perfection. Year in, year out. And they will settle for nothing less.
Apparently, that's a bad thing.
The University of Georgia is one of the premiere institutions of higher education in the country. It is the unquestioned "state school" of Georgia. The State of Georgia is arguably the third most fertile football recruiting ground in the nation, behind Texas and Florida, but ahead of California. Most Georgia kids grow up wanting to be Bulldogs. A few suffer from poor upbringings and end up wanting to be Yellow Jackets, but I digress. We have a premiere school, which the overwhelming majority of top-flight, in-state talent grows up wanting to attend. Additionally, we share a border with Florida, the nation's most fertile recruiting grounds, and we routinely pluck some of that state's prized talent. The University of Georgia has the infrastructure to maintain a stock-pile of talent (three deep) at every position, every year. And for the most part, we do. We are set as far as talent goes.
Our arch rival, the University [sic] of Florida simply does not have all of the built-in advantages that Georgia has. For one, Florida is not a lock to receive the overwhelming majority of top in-state talent. Unlike UGA (who only really competes with Tech), Florida has to compete for talent with two prestigious schools (Miami and Florida State) and two up and coming schools (South Florida and Central Florida). Not every kid in Florida grows up wanting to be a Gator. So, even within our own division, there is really no school that can surpass us in the realm of available and willing talent.
Now, let's take a look at the Alabama Crimson Tide. Virtually no built in advantages in recruiting. Alabama has to split in-state talent with a legitimate SEC school (Auburn). Moreover, Alabama is not recognized as one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country. Both Georgia and Florida (in the SEC), as well as out of conference teams like Ohio State, USC, Texas and Oklahoma all hold significant advantages over Alabama in terms of available talent.
So, why is Alabama considered to be one of College Football's historic powerhouses? Well, it undoubtedly has to do with the number of National Championships they've amassed over the years. And no one can argue that, historically, Alabama is one of college football's elite "franchises". It's a brand. Built by Bear Bryant and currently represented by Nick Saban. Alabama has a tradition of winning. A tradition of excellence. Despite having no natural advantages in available talent or money.
What makes Alabama elite? Attitude and expectations. Maybe it is irrational. Maybe it is insane or naive. But fans of the Crimson Tide, despite everything, expect their program to be the best program in the country every year. Because they have such high expectations, they bring in the right people. They correct deficiencies sooner rather than later. And they don't settle for "pretty good". Has the Alabama football program had periods of ineptitude, absolutely. But they've also had periods of unparalleled excellence. This hearkens back to an old saying: "When you shoot for the stars, you'll at least land on the moon."
Which brings us full-circle to our own football program. Dawgnation, it is time for a paradigm shift. It is time to rethink the way we do business. It is time to reassess what we consider "acceptable." Since the departure of Vince Dooley (and arguably since 1983) our fan base has become satisfied with "pretty good". And what have we had to show for it? 1989-2000, we had absolutely nothing to show for it. Not even flashes of brilliance. 2000-2005 we were on the precipice of becoming a truly elite program. But since 2005 (the last time our school, with all of its built in advantages won its own division) we have allowed our program to sail back into the doldrums of "pretty good." Florida has won two national titles since the last time we won our division. LSU and Alabama have won National Titles since the last time we won our own division.
It is time to raise our expectations to levels that are unobtainable. It is time to start shooting for the stars. It is time to hold our coaches and coordinators accountable. We don't pay our coaches and coordinators exorbitant amounts of money for them to give us a "pretty good" final product. Our fanbase deserves excellence. We pay for excellence. It is high time we got our money's worth.
It is time to start thinking just like an Alabama fan.