Even after sleeping on it, inevitably this one hurts. I must say this one hurts more than any game I've seen in my lifetime. It's just different. Undoubtedly, much of this can probably be attributed to the high stakes the game was being played for. However, I feel there is more to it than that, and I feel that my fan hood - my appreciation for this team, these coaches, this university - has been galvanized, and strengthened.
This one hurts so bad, because being not too much older than the players, I'm not sure I've seen a loss in the CMR era where the team played as hard as they did. I've been through frustrations - SC this year, SEVERAL Florida games, etc. - but the feelings after those games certainly entailed more frustration and anger at times. We DESERVED to lose those games, to an extent. We were not prepared.
Last night was different. Granted, we were far from perfect, but so was 'Bama. It truly was a case of two fantastic teams giving it their all, so in the end, something had to give. I think this one hurts more personally for me, because this time I really felt like I was watching a team of 40+ of my little brothers playing, and I had to watch them absolutely give it their all, and leave their blood, sweat, and tears on this field - but it was just short.
Rationally, it can certainly be argued that we had several opportunities to do something to change the outcome of the game but didn't, but emotionally - my God, these guys didn't deserve to lose this one. Guys like Chris Conley who was on the unfortunate end of one of the flukiest plays ever - he doesn't deserve to have to apologize to the Dawg Nation, he couldn't do anything more. The much maligned Aaron Murray - for as much criticism as you've faced - maybe some of it deserved - you don't deserve to watch your hopes and dreams fall 4 yards short of realization. You hung in there, TOUGH - and you brought us to the brink of a bonafide miracle.
Guys like Coach Richt - he doesn't deserve to feel the pain of coming up short after doing things the right way, after dealing with all of the criticism he's been through over the past few years, he doesn't deserve to deal with absolutely inane questions in a post-game conference. For a man who's history is full of consistent untimeliness - from his days as a player who had the misfortune to be QB at the exact same time as Jim Kelly, Vinny Testaverde, and Bernie Kosar. Then walk on to a pro-team that had just traded for John Elway. A man who for all intents and purposes came in and knocked the lid off a program that had been in the wildnerness for 20 years - only to run into an ascendant Florida team with one of the best college QBs ever, and a coach in Nick Saban who has built a modern day dynasty at Alabama. This man who constantly has run into circumstances that would make many others complain, or worse - compromise their ideals in order to win, just once (the whole Auburn program, anyone?)- that man did not deserve to have his moment in the sun fall just short - that man deserved to hoist the trophy last night.
The Bulldog nation - the fans that cheered their team on as the team buses arrived back in Athens last night like we had just won the national championship - we deserved Hobnailed Boot 2.0. We deserved to feel Munson smiling down from Heaven saying, "We can smell the ocean breeze, and hear the palms swaying. We're going to Miami." We deserved to hear "Glory, Glory" and ring the Chapel Bell all night long.
But alas, none of this happened.
I can't even begin to pretend that my emotions and hurt even come close to those of the staff and players. As much as this anguishes for us as a fan base, this game will be something those men will remember for the rest of their lives.
With all the resources we have, and all the talent...don't we deserve more than to be the college equivalent of the 90's Buffalo Bills?
It's just so frustrating, because for once, in this crazy world we live in, the good guy deserves to win.
I will never stop being a Dawg, and could never be more proud than I am of this team, this staff, this university. I'm going to move on, and time will heal the hurt, and years down the road, we'll always remember this team. This was a game I will tell my grandchildren about, for sure.
Hopefully, one day, the good guy will finally finish first.