Part of me wants to pull a Lewis Grizzard here. Part of me wants to write, "Frankly, I don’t want to talk about it," and just go to bed. That, however, would not be fair. It wouldn’t be fair to you, and it wouldn’t be fair to the Boise St. Broncos, about whom more anon. Besides, we both know I’m not getting to sleep anytime soon, so I might as well write this now, and be done with it.
I went to the game with my law school roommate, who comments here occasionally under the screen name "College Buddy." He and I have gone to a number of college football games over the years, but, since he started getting season tickets a few years ago, we haven’t sat together in Sanford Stadium. He did, however, attend the Georgia Bulldogs’ 2005 season opener against Boise State with me, which we figured was a good omen when we decided to make the trek to the Georgia Dome together. This was the first of many miscalculations.
We ran into RedCrake after getting a bite to eat---if there was a Chick-fil-A sandwich for sale inside the stadium, I did not find it, which pretty much set the tone for the evening---then College Buddy and I made our way to our seats, which quite literally were on the last row of the upper deck. We were in Section 316, Row 26, Seats 11 and 12, which afforded us the vantage point from which to observe the horror as it unfolded below.
I must, in good conscience, pause here to congratulate the Broncos, who are, in fact, every bit as good a football team as I have credited them with being throughout the entirety of my time in the blogosphere. Many SEC partisans have denied the legitimacy of Boise State’s achievements; I have never been one of them, and BSU tonight proved it was a talented, disciplined, well-coached football team. If the Broncos run the table, they will deserve a shot at the national championship.
They will not get that shot, however. I say that not because I doubt that they are good enough, or because I doubt that they will go undefeated, but because their strength of schedule will be their undoing. The two most heralded teams on the Broncos’ 2011 slate, the ‘Dawgs and the TCU Horned Frogs, thus far have failed miserably to look like good football teams, which will count against Boise State, through no fault of Boise State’s.
Please do not mistake this for excuse-making on my part; it is not. Boise State was the better team, they fully deserved the win that they got, and they won the game more convincingly on the field than the scoreboard suggested. The Broncos in many ways made the Bulldogs look so bad, which is to BSU’s credit. They are who we thought they were, and, even if Georgia had played well, Boise State still would have earned the win and gotten the win. I take nothing whatsoever away from Boise State.
The problem, from our perspective, is this: Boise State came into the game as a top five team, and the Broncos looked like a top five team, but Georgia came into the game as a top 20 team, and the Bulldogs did not look like a top 20 team. Again, a large part of the credit for that goes to Boise State, but our issue isn’t that the ‘Dawgs lost, it’s how they lost.
Nothing has been fixed, and few things have improved. While the defense probably played a bit better than the Broncos’ 35 points suggest, and the offense certainly played much worse than the Bulldogs’ 21 points indicate, essentially every problem that plagued this team before plagued this team still. This was the Liberty Bowl on a larger stage against a better team, which is why this game likely will mean much less to Boise State three months from now than it means to the Broncos tonight. Though the Broncos are as good as advertised, the Bulldogs remain less than the sum of their parts.
The hope that was possible at 0-0 has vanished at 0-1. This need not have been so; had Georgia held up its end of the deal the way Boise State did---had the Bulldogs played like a team deserving of its preseason ranking the way the Broncos did---the Red and Black still would have lost, but we might’ve taken a measure of solace in having fought valiantly while falling to a superior opponent. Improvement is possible, even in defeat. I’m not mad that Boise State is better than Georgia; Boise State is better than the overwhelming majority of college football teams, and has been for a while, and the Broncos may be better than any other team in the land. I’m mad that Georgia lacked even the capacity to give the Broncos a game.
In 2005, Boise State turned out to be better than the Bulldogs made the Broncos look in the season opener; maybe, in 2011, the roles will be reversed, and Georgia will turn out to be better than the Broncos made them look to open the autumn. The evidence that this might be so, however, is meager, if it exists at all.
This, I believe, was the beginning of the end. That is a reality about which I remain conflicted, though many devoted Georgia fans are not conflicted about that reality, and have not been for some time; certainly, the fact that, in the fourth quarters of both contests, the Georgia Dome was as deserted on Labor Day weekend as the Liberty Bowl was on New Year’s Eve attests to the way the wind is blowing. You can like it, dislike it, or be uncertain about it, but this exhibition by the Bulldogs and their coaches means it is more likely than not that Kirby Smart is going to be introduced by Greg McGarity at a news conference in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall this December. In saying so, I am neither advocating nor opposing a position; rather, I am stating what I believe to be the truth.
I congratulate Boise State. I wish the Bulldogs were a good enough football team for the Broncos to get the credit they deserve for beating Georgia. The fact that the Bulldogs are not most probably means that those of us who were not there already have three months to prepare ourselves to welcome the arrival of the 26th head football coach in our history.