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The Georgia Bulldogs and the Presidential Election Year Jinx

Two important events transpired within a week of one another early in November 1980. One was the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency of the United States. The other covered 93 yards and ended with Larry Munson breaking his chair.

I mention these two events because, obviously, 1980---a presidential election year---ended quite well for the Red and Black, as had (to varying degrees) three of the previous four presidential election years (Vince Dooley’s first season in 1964 and the S.E.C. championship seasons of 1968 and 1976). With the sole exception of 1972, each of the five presidential election years following 1960 ended well for the ‘Dawgs.

What happened after that? Did we use up all of our presidential election year mojo with the undefeated season of 1980? Look at what has happened since:

  • 1984: Georgia started the year well with Kevin Butler’s 60-yard field goal to beat second-ranked Clemson, but the Bulldogs faded down the stretch to finish unranked for the first time in five years.

  • 1988: The Red and Black had a shot at winning Vince Dooley’s seventh conference title in his 25th and final season, but a fifth loss to Auburn in a six-year span and Georgia’s first loss in Lexington since 1965 doomed the ‘Dawgs.

  • 1992: A Georgia squad loaded with talent was favored to win the Eastern Division and should have contended for a national championship, but losses by three points to Tennessee and by two points to Florida spoiled the Classic City Canines’ chances.

  • 1996: Excitement over the installation of a new coach and a new offense between the new hedges quickly dissipated in the wake of an 0-2 start. Georgia failed to make a bowl game for the third time in four years.

  • 2000: The ‘Dawgs came into the year expected to win the S.E.C. and considered a contender for the No. 1 ranking. Quincy Carter then proceeded to throw five interceptions in a loss to South Carolina and the team ended up in a bowl that doesn’t even exist any longer. This dismal season concluded with the firing of Jim Donnan.

  • 2004: With Fred Gibson, David Greene, and David Pollack all back for their senior season, the Bulldogs once again were expected to win the conference championship and be in the running for a national title. A letdown against Tennessee and a beatdown at Auburn relegated Georgia to the Outback Bowl instead.

  • 2008: Uh, yeah.

Let me hasten to add that I am not advocating the abolition of the electoral college, the establishment of an hereditary monarchy, or the creation of a parliamentary system of government. (There are arguments for that last one, but that’s a separate subject.) The U.S. Constitution vests the executive power in a president, which is just fine with me.

Nevertheless, I cannot overlook the fact that, after years of outperforming expectations in presidential election years, the Bulldogs now seem to fall short of playing to their potential each time voters go to the polls to choose the electors who will select the next leader of the free world. What, precisely, is up with that . . . and would it be wrong to suggest a Constitutional amendment giving the chief executive a single six-year term, so that we can space out the recurring downcycles a bit?

Go ‘Dawgs!