Dawg Sports Wants To Know: The Biggest Disaster In Bulldog History.

Scott Cunningham

The athletic history of the University of Georgia is full of triumphant moments. The 1980 national football title. The 1983 Final Four. The 1990 baseball title, a slew of conference and national titles in sports as diverse as equestrian, golf, tennis, and bass fishing. We've watched Bulldogs take home gold at the Olympics, be named Super Bowl MVP thrice, and have even put our gridiron stars in Batman movies and Donald Trump's boardroom.

But it's not always been champagne and roses. Frankly there have been some serious lowlights in Bulldog athletics, the kid of moments which can only be described as disasters. Unrelenting, unmitigated disasters.

And it's not just us. Every program has them. Which led to a discussion recently among SB Nation SEC writers about what the biggest disaster in SEC athletic history is. I'm pretty sure that none of the below is the biggest athletic disaster in SEC history. But they were each pretty crappy in their own right. But which was the crappiest ever?

First, a couple of ground rules. One, I've tried to stay within the past 20 years or so. I think it's a lot harder to assess the scale of older "disasters" like "The Drought", so I've taken the easy way out. So sue me. Two, I've placed a premium on self-inflicted wounds. I just think that's it's a whole lot more disastrous when you blow yourself up Wile E. Coyote-style. So with no further ado, let's look at the contenders:

Mike Adams Takes Georgia Basketball To Hell In A Harrick Basket.

Why it was a disaster:

Georgia basketball had built a great deal of momentum under Tubby Smith. But when Smith was lured away by Kentucky, it fell upon new University President Michael Adams to name his replacement. His decision may have been the biggest disaster in recent Bulldog athletic history.

Oh, the hiring itself was a little controversial, pitting Vince Dooley supporters against those who thought the old coach needed to step aside. Dooley of course wanted to hire then-Delaware coach Mike Brey, who has since turned Notre Dame into a perennial tournament team. Harrick, in contrast, produced four seasons of decent to good basketball culminating in a total implosion of the program from which one could argue it still has not recovered, nearly a decade later. The hiring was also the harbinger of things to come, making clear that Mike Adams was going to do whatever he pleased and could get away with. In some cases (firing Jim Donnan, hiring Mark Richt) that has actually worked out really well.

In this instance, it was tragic, and stupid. Harrick was a known NCAA violator. He'd been in trouble everywhere he ever coached. Mike Adams, however, liked his old coach at Pepperdine, and got what he wanted. Then there were ESPN reporters hiding behind dumpsters, and money order receipts, and sanctions, and protests, and a great big smoking crater where a basketball program used to be.

Why it wasn't:

I have little or nothing here. The best I can do is that the Harrick hire was a cautionary tale which seems to have been heeded in subsequent hires. That was the last time that I am aware of that Georgia has hired a head coach in any program who was surrounded by even a whiff of scandal. Leopards don't change their spots and a career dirtbag like Jim Harrick wasn't ever going to be a choir boy. Lesson learned. I'll take Mark Richt butt-dialing recruits' parents every day of the week.

Damon's Midnight Ride.

Why it was a disaster:

It's just never good when your athletic department's leader and leading fundraiser gets a mugshot. It's even worse when that mugshot comes for doing something that he's warned your student athletes against, and which they've unfortunately struggled with. It's still worse when the incident in question involves explaining to law enforcement why there's a woman's lacy underthings in your lap. But it's a disaster when the woman in question is not your spouse. Damon Evans endured a humiliating, public ouster from his post as athletic director at his alma mater, and lost literally millions of dollars as a result. It's the kind of disaster that exposes the entire University to ridicule. The kind that moves distinguished alumni to call for your resignation.

Why it wasn't:

The end of the Evans era led to the beginning of the Greg McGarity era. And while Evans was viewed by many as a rising young star in the world of college athletics, by the time of his resignation the bloom was perhaps already off the rose. While some programs (baseball, basketball) have languished under McGarity there's no guarantee they would not have suffered a similar fate under Damon Evans' leadership. It's also worth noting that McGarity managed the poorest Bulldog football season in years during his first season in office, but has by all accounts given Mark Richt everything he needed to succeed since, for which Richt has lauded him.

Blacked Out. The 2008 Alabama Game

Why it was a disaster:

Because Alabama fans are not, on the whole, imaginative enough to come up with any other insults besides "BLACKOUT!!!FUNERAL, PAAWWWLLLLL!!!!!" The University of Georgia football team came into a hyped 2008 matchup with Nick Saban's ascendent Alabama program ranked #3 in the nation. College Gameday was onsite. The eyes of the nation were on the Classic City. The red and black left this game saddled with a crisis of confidence which lasted for two plus years.

Why it wasn't:

That 2008 team had already shown some weaknesses. Only the prior weekend Georgia had been lucky to escape against South Carolina in Columbia, winning 14-7 and scoring only one offensive touchdown, then looked solidly lackluster on the road against an underdog Arizona State squad. The cross country trip may have taken a toll on the team. Or maybe they were distracted by the pregame hoopla. But it's also worth remembering that Alabama squad was ranked #8 coming into Athens. So while the 41-30 loss hurt badly, it wasn't as if Georgia got smashed by the Little Sisters of the Poor. In hindsight, Nick Saban was rounding into shape a program that has since been the most successful in college football by a mile.

Sanks For The Memories. Jasper (doesn't) fumble it away.

Why it was a disaster:

Losing to little brother sucks. Not really losing to little brother except in the eyes of a dithering moron who just happens to be wearing an SEC official's uniform is worse. For his part, Jasper Sanks never really recovered, telling Dawg Sports years later that he believed that Jim Donnan never stopped blaming him for that loss.

Why it wasn't:

It wasn't really a loss. Really, to this day I don't consider this one an actual loss because it is so obvious to everyone who isn't a Comic-Con VIP pass-toting, North Avenue-dwelling, socially awkward Ramblin' Wreck of a human being that Jasper Sanks was down. Maybe Donnan could have gone for the field goal on third down. But if it had been blocked and we hadn't recovered it that decision would have been second guessed. Donnan did a lot of strategically backwards things at Georgia. This wasn't even in the top 5.

So which is it, commentariat? What is the biggest disaster in Bulldog history?

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