It’s easy to think of ‘what might have been,’ especially when you come close so many times.
Such has been the case for the past 30 years or so when it comes to University of Georgia athletics. Go across the major sports in The Classic City, and you will find no shortage of ‘what ifs.’
What if Herschel doesn’t sign with an agent?
As magical as 1980 to 1982 was, you can’t help but wonder what 1983 would have been like had Herschel not been lured to the USFL. With Herschel in the backfield, Georgia’s a prime contender for the national title. Even without Herschel, Georgia did beat one national title hopeful in Texas, where the time is still 10-9. Not only that, but the 1983 clash with Auburn would have been a beyond incredible matchup of Herschel vs. Bo.
What if the Lady Dawgs don’t run into foul trouble in ‘85?
Andy Landers had some great teams as coach of the Lady Bulldogs. The 1985 group may have been the best one with three of the best in program history in one lineup - Teresa Edwards, Janet Harris and Katrina McClain.
Georgia lost 70-65 to Old Dominion in the title game, and it was greatly handcuffed in the final minutes. Edwards fouled out with more than 13 minutes to play and McClain with just more than five minutes left. If Georgia has at least one of those on the floor, its chances to come back are helped, and the legacy of Georgia women’s basketball and Landers gets a national title to go with its accomplishments.
What if Georgia holds onto the ball against Tennessee in 1992?
The 1992 SEC title game is the thing of legend. There’s an a documentary on it. Had Georgia not turned the ball over five times against Tennessee in Athens that year, a Georgia win would have sent the Bulldogs to the SEC title game. Who knows - maybe that unbeaten record going to the WLOCP that year is an extra edge and it’s an unbeaten Georgia and Bama for the SEC title in a play-in for a national title shot - sound familiar? If nothing else, a SEC title game berth gives Ray Goff tons of a capital to build with, possibly resulting in a recruiting haul and buying him a few more extra years and who knows - maybe being let go in 2000 just in time for Mark Richt to become available.
What if Georgia catches a pass or two against the Chickens in 2007?
It didn’t seem like it at the time, but the week two loss to USC in 2007 cost the Bulldogs. Dearly. Multiple dropped passes doomed Georgia in a 12-7 loss. That combined with a mostly annual headscratching loss, this time to Tennessee, put Georgia in a mode of counting of a UT loss to get to Atlanta. As is the case when you rely on others to handle business that you were not able to handle yourself, it didn’t work out and Georgia could only watch LSU top Tennessee for the SEC title and see itself jumped in the polls by LSU thanks to Herbie changing rules to argue for the LSU to get into the BCS title game.
Georgia was probably playing better than anyone else by December of that year, and it would have matched up very well against a worn down LSU team. Given OSU’s track record then during bowl games, Georgia is likely a national champion.
What if Georgia isn’t using Nike bats in 2008?
In all honesty, the fact that Georgia made it to Omaha in 2008 in spite of using the substandard Nike bats is an accomplishment in itself. Due to the Athletic Associations contract at the time with Nike, Georgia was mandated to use Nike bats. You could only wonder how many more runs the Bulldogs put on the board that year...and also if they beat Fresno State, who put up record numbers using...you guessed it...Easton bats.
What if John Wallace doesn’t hit the leaner?
Given the state of the program at the time, the 1996 postseason was beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. After being mostly mediocre, Tubby Smith’s first season got the Bulldogs an upset of Purdue and Sweet 16 matchup against Syracuse. The Bulldogs were on track win a wild one with Pertha Robinson’s overtime three pointer, but on a shot that somehow only goes in during March Madness, John Wallace’s leaner swished through the net.
Syracuse went all the way to finish as NCAA runner-up that year. If Georgia posts a Final Four trip that year, perhaps Tubby Smith stays a few more years. If anything, maybe it prevents Ron Jirsa from happening.
What if Murray spikes it?
Of all decisions from 2001 to 2015 in Athens, there’s probably not one that’s been picked apart like this one. Georgia has Bama on the ropes and is driving downfield. Late in the game, rather than slow things down and bank away time for maybe one more play, either Richt, Bobo or Aaron Murray make the call to go for the score with the Tide pinned back on its heels. As we know - it backfired. A deflected pass lands in the unready hands of Chris Conley and it’s confetti time for Bama.
What if Georgia wins? For starters, the Dawgs easily roll past Notre Dame for the national title, and regardless of the fortunes in Athens the next few years, it buys Richt some job security. If he is locked in, Richt is still likely the head coach. The ‘Richt will never win a title’ gib is a non-factor and a Georgia fans have upset stomachs upon hearing, “new Tennessee head coach Kirby Smart...”
What if Fromm is sacked instead of the pass being tipped?
This one’s cut and dry. If Fromm’s second-half pass isn’t intercepted, Georgia runs more time off the clock, the Bulldogs keep momentum, go on to win and we’re in an offseason filled with, “did Kirby Smart just push Saban toward retirement on Lake Hartwell?”