You've got work to do so you can get ready for this coming weekend's showdown with ACC powerhouse South Carolina. College Gameday will be in Columbia, one presumes set up in a shadeless parking lot. Because Columbia is essentially one big shadeless parking lot, a sprawling metropolis founded by intrepid pawn brokers and bail bondsmen, who still dominate the civic life of the place a full 30 years later. I know you can't wait to get there, but before you do, we need to finish a few things, okay?
1) Buy David Pollack a freaking cheeseburger. Egad man, I understand that maintaining a healthy weight is important, but when you start making Jesse Palmer and Desmond Howard look buff you make it really hard for us Georgia fans to convince people you used to be the most feared defensive lineman in college football. If it's true that television adds 10 pounds, then perhaps David Pollack is on a hunger strike until ESPN executives finally give in and allow him to brain Palmer with a baseball bat. I guess if that's it, then his eating disorder may be justified.
2) Erase the West Virginia/Baylor game from the DVR forever. Dump DVR in the bottom of a well at an abandoned New England farm, so that its curse doesn't affect anymore innocent viewers. It's hard to express what it's like to watch a 70-63 college football game. I mean, you'd think it would be a lot of fun. Offense is fun, right? The truth is that this game was a lot like watching the MLB home run derby. Entirely too much of a good thing. Like a weekend in Tijuana that went horribly wrong. Somewhere between the 6th and 23rd tequila shots Geno Smith poured you forgot where you were and what you were supposed to be. You went places you should never have gone and saw things you can never unsee. And at the end you and your friends are left sitting there as the crowd files out shocked, repulsed, mortified. And in the car on the way home you all agree that this never happened.
3) Congratulate Ole Miss. Did they beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa? No. Not even close. They lost 33-14. But for 15 whole seconds there during the second quarter they led 7-6. And that's something no one will ever be able to take away from them. I just hate that South Carolina dodged Ole Miss and gets to play Arkansas from the West instead. Just watch them back into the SEC Title Game with that easy schedule of theirs. In fact Alabama's Nick Saban said after the game "I think people probably don't give Ole Miss enough credit. They played hard. They were physical. Their offense is difficult to defend. And I wouldn't whizz on Spurrier if he were on fire. Unless I could pee gasoline." Actually, Saban said everything in that quote except the last two sentences. I added those in because they just seemed appropriate.
4) Watch Big Ten fans learn about Urban Meyer's general disconnect from notions of honesty or fair play. Nod knowingly. Really guys, this shouldn't be news to anyone. I'm going to let those of you linking in to this blog from the Midwest in on a little secret. Hold onto your Rotel and Velveeta, this may be shocking. Urban Meyer cares not for your gentlemens' agreements and high brow notions of sportsmanship. He cares about very little other than himself and the satisfaction he derives from winning. He will say anything to win. He will overlook any transgression. He will use his influence to intimidate well-meaning people who ask valid questions while simply doing their jobs. If he sees he can't win, he'll just walk away rather than answering tough questions about the decisions he made to get to that point. He'll stand in front of television cameras with his family and let them talk about getting their daddy back and then if it suits his ego he'll go ahead and do whatever the heck he wants, because at the end of the day it's all about Urban Meyer. This has been a public service announcement by those of us who saw the man work in the SEC.
5) Wonder what the impact of that second quarter was. Enough of college football at large. Let's talk about that Georgia game. I'd like to think that we learned again that a college football game lasts a full 60 minutes. Once again we saw the emergence of an insidious, often dormant malady that has infected the Bulldog football team for years: "WeGotThis-itis." The main symptom is an ability to lose focus during either the second or third quarter of a game you're leading handily against a decent opponent, thereby suddenly finding yourself standing around dazed and trailing. 2006 versus Tennessee. 2008 versus Georgia Tech. 2009 versus Arizona State. You' ve seen it before.
As Danny Ocean said, "you lose focus in this game for one second and people get hurt." Suffice it to say that the moment at which you, unnamed Georgia football player, turn to your teammate along the sideline and say "man, we got this!" and begin thinking about which bar you'll hit first on your triumphant evening tour of downtown Athens, one thing becomes clear: you absolutely do not have this. Never, ever forget this. You will of course, because in a couple of years you'll graduate, and another great young student-athlete will take your place. And he too will forget that you must play not only the first snap, and the last snap, but every damned snap in between if you want to win a national championship. This frustrates the living hell out of me. At SEC Media Days this year I may ask Nick Saban how his teams seem to avoid it. I will then write the answer on a decorative ceramic of some sort and present it to Mark Richt.
6) Go back and read DavetheDawg's 15 Thoughts from yesterday, feel at least a little better. Dave really hit a variety of nails right on their little heads with this synopsis of the Bulldogs' effort against Tennessee. And he's entirely right that in hindsight we never remember the ugly moments on the way to glory. We forget Terrance Cody jiggling through to block a kick against a Tennessee squad more hapless than the one we just saw, thereby pulling Bama's bacon out of the fire (and thinking, "mmmmmm . . .bacon!"). We forget Les Miles letting the clock run down to 5 seconds and chucking one into the endzone as if he had no friggin' clue how much time was left in the game. Every team that goes all the way in college football has two things in common: 1) it's composed of 18-22 year old men, who as a class are not known for their emotional and intellectual consistency, and as a result 2) it has to overcome a performance or two that are uneven at best.
Last season we had perhaps our worst mental game against South Carolina. The special teams brain farts and Aaron Murray fumble of this past Saturday felt a lot like that game. I'm hoping we emerged having learned a lesson. Because South Carolina, despite having its own issues against Kentucky, will be playing in front of a jacked up crowd in Columbia Saturday night. It will be our best chance to take control of the SEC East and establish ourselves in the national championship discussion. So let's start getting ready, shall we?
Until later . . .