The architect of the most invincible dynastic juggernaut in college football history (left) spoke to the mediocre beneficiary of a weak schedule who lacks killer instinct (right) before their 11-1 teams played a game decided on the final snap. - Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
The Georgia Bulldogs seldom have been media darlings, but the persistence of "The Narrative" even among BlogPoll voters is as inexplicable as it is inexcusable. Fortunately, at least one rival fan base knows better.
As you may have noticed, the final regular-season BlogPoll has been released, and many of the results were predictable.
With 42 of 56 first-place votes, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are No. 1, but the Alabama Crimson Tide, who topped eleven of the other 14 ballots, are hot on their heels. The Bulldogs’ Capital One Bowl opponent, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, skidded eight spots to 22nd after being bludgeoned in the Big Ten Championship Game.
I’m sorry, what?
I will acknowledge here that my ballot earned me a third-place finish in the running for the Coulter/Kos Award, given to the BlogPollster most heavily biased in favor of his own team. However, excessive homerism in my voting tendencies is not a sin of which I often stand accused, and I was one of six voters to rank the Bulldogs third.
Unfortunately, six other voters ranked the ‘Dawgs a defensible fourth, and nine more placed the Red and Black an arguable fifth. That’s 21 voters---more than one-third of the total---who deemed Georgia a top five team, which, frankly, strikes me as the only reasonable position.
What game was being watched by the nine voters who ranked Georgia sixth, or the eight who ranked Georgia seventh, though? What was going on in the minds of the ten bloggers who placed the Bulldogs eighth, and by what process did two others arrive at the conclusion that the Red and Black deserved to be ranked ninth? By what rationale did six BlogPollsters evaluate the Classic City Canines between tenth and 13th?
Unfortunately, that rationale is all too clear. Despite the fact that the Bulldogs played the Tide right down to the wire, the meme yet reigns supreme: Georgia is not the equal of an injury-hampered Alabama team, was not as well-prepared, remains “a clear step below the upper echelon of the SEC,” was the product of “a light schedule and good fortune,” and was “the conference’s fifth or sixth best team”; despite producing just the season’s second 100-yard rusher against the Crimson Tide and averaging more yards per play against ‘Bama than any other Division I-A opponent in more than two years, Georgia “was only in the game at the end courtesy of two moments of high opportunism,” after which “Georgia botched its Cinderella ending” and “just blew it” when the Bulldogs “were already living on borrowed time.”
If that is what people believe, though, how were the Sunshine State Saurians able to rise one spot, and garner one first-place vote, while idle? I concede the impressiveness of the scalps on the Gators’ wall, but, shouldn’t a sloppy loss to a Georgia team only barely in the upper half of the SEC torpedo Florida’s top five ranking? How were the South Carolina Gamecocks able to retain their No. 11 ranking while the demonstrably inferior squad constituting their most noteworthy victim was being exposed as a fraud in the SEC Championship Game? The ‘Dawg-bashing double standard is everywhere evident, it seems; as chuckdawg has noted, for Georgia to be such a sad-sack outfit of perennial underachievers who have never proven a thing, a whole heck of a lot of teams sure seem to garner a great deal of credit for beating the Bulldogs.
All of that, I suppose, is a roundabout way of belatedly answering memphisdawg’s question. As a matter of fact, yes, the Bulldogs are the Rodney Dangerfield of elite college football teams, but at least one observer who was not wearing red-and-black-tinted glasses sees it our way:
Alabama took home the victory and the concomitant BCS National Championship berth, but Georgia took the Tide to the final seconds and, even if they went home empty-handed, they did nothing if not prove themselves to be right on par with Alabama. Mark Richt arguably said it best in his postgame interview: Georgia simply ran out of time. After sixty minutes of football, the unmistakable impression was that these two teams would have traded the lead back-and-forth all night long.
So wrote outsidethesidelines at SB Nation’s Alabama Crimson Tide weblog, Roll ‘Bama Roll, where Ricky Muncie asked rhetorically, “But does anyone believe that the two best teams in the conference didn’t just play in Atlanta?” It certainly seems that fans of the team that just vanquished the Athenians---a team universally, and deservedly, deemed worthy of its BCS National Championship Game berth---have a good deal more respect for the Red and Black than those who did not have skin in the game.
Maybe the outsiders who are so down on the ‘Dawgs would do well to pay heed to the more favorable assessment offered by Crimson Tide partisans, who know how good their team is, and who know, as a consequence, how good the team their team just defeated must be. Unfortunately, not everyone is as reasonable as the Alabama faithful evidently are, so the naysayers continue willfully to ignore the cognitive dissonance inherent in their position, never pausing to ask themselves the obvious question: “If the Crimson Tide have proven that they are every bit as good as we thought they were---and no one thinks they have not---doesn’t that necessarily mean that Georgia is a good deal better than we believed them to be?”