Bob Stanton-US PRESSWIRE
It's Monday and you've got work to pretend to do and holiday shopping to actually do. But first, let's cross a few items off the college football shopping list.
In no particular order, we need to:
Beat Bama. This is job one. The Bulldogs are currently a 7.5 point underdog to the Tide, which actually sounds a little low to me, and all the Crimson Tide fans who already made their reservations in Miami. I guess it's because "bajillion" is not a standard unit of measure.
Last year in the Georgia Dome the Dawgs had every opportunity to upset the Bayou Bengals. They squandered those opportunities with gusto. Georgia has the talent to beat Alabama. But Bama has a larger margin for error. As Casey Stengel is alleged to have noted, more games are lost than won. I think Georgia's best bet is to create turnovers, play defense, and do so for the full 60 minutes. Traditionally this is also the point in the proceedings where Aaron Murray throws a bushel of interceptions and/or fumbles while trying to avoid a sack. That is probably my biggest concern.
All that being said, a disrespected Mark Richt team is my favorite Mark Richt team. I've been impressed with the mental makeup of this squad since the Florida game, which of course means nothing because Georgia doesn't play anyone who's any good (Narrative, satisfied.). I'm not saying Georgia wins in Atlanta this Saturday. But I am saying that Georgia is more squarely in position to play for a national title than it has been in 30 years because this team has improved steadily on both sides of the ball and stayed the course when they could have fallen apart. They have the tools to get to Miami, I just don't know that they'll use them.
Ratchet down the bowl panic. If things go as everyone outside Bulldog Nation seems to expect, it's a pretty safe bet that Georgia will fall out of the BCS bowls. The question is how far. I for one doubt that a two-loss Georgia team that plays close with Alabama falls past the Capitol One Bowl. It's possible of course, but that likely means the Outback Bowl.
Watch others pick through the wreckage. I've never thought it was particularly fair to former coaches to run this sort of view from the cheapseats retrospective about everything that was done wrong. For one thing, I assure you there are plenty of players not going to class and missing workouts at schools whose coaches are about to get raises and contract extensions.
That being said, it was pretty obvious from the beginning that there was little reason to expect Gene Chizik to succeed on the Plains. He now leaves an Auburn program that sits squarely in an SEC West that looks loaded for bear for the foreseeable future, is clearly the #2 program in its own state, and appears to be the focus of ever more credible NCAA scrutiny. Auburn is a good coaching job, but it's not as good right now as it historically has been. I don't know if Auburn fans fully appreciate that. Still, Auburn will hold its own against the Kentuckies and N.C. States out there in the coaching sweepsstake.
What is probably fair is Stephen Hargis of the Times Free Press spotlighting Derek Dooley's poor recruiting in the tri-state area of northwest Georgia, northern Alabama, and southern Tennessee. When well-known area high school coaches can't even tell you who's recruiting their area for your school, and when the only people they hear from are grad assistants, you have officially screwed up. Really it's almost incredible that a school so desperate for talent didn't respond by hitting its home base harder to lock up local kids. Admittedly, 'Nooga produces no more than 3-7 SEC caliber players in a good year. But Dooley was apparently throwing away 5 star talents like Ridgeland's Vonn Bell to go . . . well, I don't know, because he wasn't rounding up guys like that elsewhere, either.
Southern Miss may or may not can Ellis Johnson, fresh off a winless season after inheriting a team that finished 2011 with a 12-2 mark. Sure the Golden Eagles lost a lot of talent, but that record sounds indicative of a total lack of buy-in from Johnson's charges. If he keeps that job, it's only because they can't afford to fire him yet.
Finally, I just want to go on record pointing out how awesome Houston Nutt would be as a replacement for Tom O'Brien at N.C. State. He not only knows the lyrics to Wagon Wheel, I'm pretty sure he's actually thumbed his way to North Carolina with a toking truck driver before. Plus a Hootin' Dale/Paul Johnson matchup could be the most entertaining thing about ACC football in years.
Until later, have a great Monday, and . . .