Georgia BulldogsThis morning it hit me on two fronts, one worse than the other. One- I'm still in Afghanistan. But that, while it sucks at times, is what I wanted and what I'm stuck with for a while longer. The second, which I am also stuck with but I did not want, is Auburn winning a football national championship. True Dawg fans the world over now get to bemoan the fact that yet another freakin' SEC team not named Georgia has won a national championship. I called my deployment here my ultimate road trip, and brought a white Georgia football jersey with me, hoping to see Georgia win 10 games... then nine... then eight... then seven. I didn't even get to see that, as 2010 became the season of my football discontent. Now it has officially turned into the off-season of my football nightmare. T Kyle King said it best- I want to throw up. Forget feuding cousins or gentleman's rivalry, it sickens me to see arguably our biggest rival win it all. Adding to the sickness, this is now the ninth national championship won by an SEC team since 1992, again, not named Georgia.
While it sucks for Georgia's football fortunes, (unless we can recruit blue chippers with this pitch- Come to Georgia and you'll get to play against championship teams!), I have to begrudgingly give credit to Auburn for this: this is the third undefeated season they've had since 1993, which leads me to this sobering conclusion-
Dawgs fans, they simply want it more than we do.
How can we conclude otherwise? From the top down, from the school president and the athletic director, all the way down to the students sitting in the student section at Jordan-Hare Stadium who subsist on Ramen noodles and Natty Ice, they want it more than we do. The same applies to Alabama and LSU and Florida.
Georgia fans need to expect, no, we need to demand more from our football program. We need to be willing to be mean, to live with the uncomfortable feeling of running a good guy out of town, and fast. We need to do so because our football program will be better off in the long run. We need to face the facts and clean house. We need to be willing to fire a coach mid-season and say to hell with what others say about us. You think all those ESPN talking heads are poor-mouthing Auburn's treatment of Tommy Tuberville today?
Obviously, Richt will not be fired now. People say Richt's buyout clause prevented Georgia from firing him this year. Perhaps, but my question is- do you think Alabama, or LSU, or Florida, Auburn, or Tennessee would let that stop them? I'm not suggesting frivolity in such times of financial austerity, but I am growing tired of seeing Georgia rank near the top in athletic department revenue when I really want to see us finish on top in wins, especially when all that money could be used to hire a top-notch coach!
Who among Georgia fans has any positive perception of the direction of the program? Mark Richt should have been fired after this season, but for the sake of recruiting perhaps, and his buyout clause, and because that's just not how Georgia operates, we are stuck with at least one more year of falling further behind our rivals. Sure, we will probably stay ahead of Kentucky and Vanderbilt... maybe Tennessee for now. But the gap between Georgia and the real SEC powers continues to grow. I like Mark Richt as a person, and after seeing Georgia knock on the door with some good seasons and a couple of SEC championships, I hoped he'd be the Georgia coach for a long time. But he's lost his fire. I wouldn't be surprised to see a new coach win big in his second year in Athens, the same as Richt did with mostly Jim Donnan's players. The talent, for the most part, is there. The coaching is not.
I've been to Auburn. I saw the 2004 team demolish Arkansas in Jordan-Hare. While the campus is, from a purely objective standpoint, nice and cool in its own way and all that, it is in no way markedly better than Athens. The stadium is not markedly better than Sanford Stadium. The resources, the facilities, the education, and sure as hell not the state itself as far as recruiting, none of that is better than what Georgia has. Except when it comes to what they demand from their football team. Same as the other SEC powers. As a result, Auburn has broken through after their third undefeated season in 17 years and won a national championship.
Unlike my wife, I am not an SEC Kool-Aid drinker. Yes, it means more money for the conference if Auburn, and Alabama, and Florida, and LSU, and... sorry, I'm starting to taste the bile in my mouth... other conference teams win the BCS. But I simply cannot root for other teams to win big because that means Georgia keeps losing ground. We have been lapped by the other powers in the SEC, to the extent that we are no longer a power ourselves. Traditionally, perhaps, but not in the modern era. 1980 was a long time ago.
Tonight here in Kandahar City, I'll go to the dfac which is run by a sergeant who is a huge Auburn fan. Throughout this abominable Georgia season, insult has been added every time I went to the dfac and had to avert my eyes from the obscene orange and blue Auburn banner that the sergeant hung in the dfac. In spite of this, tonight I will be a gentleman and congratulate him, share with him some Auburn-shaped cookies a friend from the States sent me, and as a fellow human being I'll dig deep and experience a modicum of happiness over the joy that Auburn's football triumph has brought to him, same for my War Eagle friends back home.
But inwardly, I'm sick of seeing other teams win it all, and I'm tired of asking- When will it be Georgia's turn to have all the glory?