It’s time we have an important talk as a fanbase.
If you occupy any corner of the Georgia Bulldog internet, then you are probably aware by now of the latest video from SEC Shorts.
In the video, hope takes human form and tries to chase down a Bulldog fan. Worn to an emotional nub by the past two decades of UGA Football heartbreak, the fan knows better than to allow himself to believe.
Pretty much every Georgia fan I know has commented on how this is the perfect encapsulation of being a Bulldog fan. As macondawg wrote on Tuesday, “Is there reason to believe 2021 could be a special season of Georgia football, and that we should allow hope to blossom in our collective red and black bosom? Sure. But you still can’t make me.”
Before we go further, I need to confess a few things…
1) I have witnessed the following heartbreaking UGA games in person. 2012 SEC Championship, 2017 National Championship, 2004 Georgia-Tennessee, 2002 Georgia-Florida, 2008 Blackout versus Alabama, 1998 Georgia-Georgia Tech, the 2001 Georgia-Auburn goal line stand, the 2009 UGA-LSU phantom celebration call on AJ Green, the 2016 Tennessee Hail Mary, and probably a few more that the mind has blotted out so I can cope with my day-to-day life.
2) When Derion Kendrick and Arik Gilbert announced their commitments within 15 minutes of each other a couple weeks ago I immediately started coming up with all of the reasons why the 2021 Georgia Bulldogs were unworthy of the expectations that many media members were putting on them.
3) I used to approach pretty much everything this way. I went through a series of personal tragedies when I was 18, and the weird way that I coped with it was to imagine the worst possible outcome before allowing myself to enter into any sort of situation or relationship that would require my emotional investment. The way that many of you approach football is the way I approached life for awhile.
This is an empty way to live life. When you’re always preparing to lose something, you never allow yourself to properly embrace the joy it brings to your life. I can tell you from experience that it’s no way to approach relationships or personal endeavors. It ain’t much good for football either.
What I’m about to ask of Bulldog Nation is going to alarm some of you. Many of you will be tempted to violently balk at this request, and others might experience a building rage in your chests. Before you slam your laptop shut, remember that your reaction is the product of post-traumatic stress. Hear me out.
I want all of you to spend the time between now and the Clemson game thinking of how good it’s going to feel when Georgia beats Clemson. I want you to imagine how good it’s going to feel seeing Derion Kendrick pick off a DJ Uiagalelei pass and run out of bounds in front of Dabo Swinney with the Dawgs up by 14 with a few minutes left in the 4th quarter.
Then I want you to think about how sweet it’s going to be when we roll into Jacksonville at 7-0 and put the type of beating on Florida that can make Dan Mullen’s seat warm. After that, I want you to think about how great it’s going to feel when UGA finally gets over the Bama hump in the SEC Championship.
Then I want you to imagine how much pure childish joy you’re going to feel when Kirby Smart hoists the National Championship trophy on the turf of Lucas Oil Stadium on January 10th.
I know… You’re furious with me.
But Georgia has collected everything it needs to do all of the things I listed above. Kirby Smart has acquired boatloads of talent in Athens. At some point, that can’t be just an end to itself. The acquisition of supremely gifted athletes is the means to an end, and Smart himself would be the first person to tell you that end is lifting the ultimate prize after winning the last game of the season.
As a rightfully weary fanbase grapples with what it means to be one of college football’s true front runners, it feels pertinent to remember a favorite saying of Smart himself. Pressure is a privilege. I watched Georgia go into a season with Brett Millican as its starting tailback. I much prefer a football fandom where I wake up everyday and know that my team is in the middle of a championship window to one where I hope the season might hold one magical Saturday where I knock off a conference rival with real championship aspirations.
I know, it bothers you that I used the phrase “championship window.” By admitting that UGA is in a window it means that window can shut. Well, elite quarterbacking is the price of admission to a title, and Smart has ensured that UGA will have a five-star under center for at least the next four seasons.
Georgia has everything it needs to break its national championship drought in 2021, but the program will also have everything it needs for many years to come. The Bulldogs are going to go out and tee it up and the chips will fall how they do. If UGA comes up short against a team with equal or greater talent and resources then there isn’t any shame to be had in that.
What would be a shame is if an entire fanbase full of diehard Bulldog fans doesn’t fully appreciate and enjoy the things this team is about to do on the field this season. It can be dangerous to love something. Once you love something, there is the possibility that it can truly hurt you. That risk is a necessary one. Fandom at its purest form is an investment of emotion in something you have no control over.
If Georgia has that magical year in 2021 do you want to look back in 20 years and know that you weren’t fully strapped in for the ride? Or do you want to join me in reveling in the beauty of every JT Daniels touchdown pass? Will you join me in awe and laughter each time one of those talented backs bursts through a wide open running lane and into the secondary? Or will you allow the past to thieve joy from the present?
When Georgia has a lead in a big game and those voices start to creep into your head I want you to consider an idea that scientists are currently toying with. It is a distinct possibility that objective reality and collective manifestation are real things that are helping to govern our universe. The concept behind these principles is simple- that our thoughts and beliefs help to create the reality that we live in.
There is at least some possibility that the reason Georgia stubs its toe at the worst possible moments is because millions of UGA fans are expecting it to happen. At the very least, science has yet to prove this isn’t true. With that in mind, can we really afford to languish in Georgia’s past failures any longer?
When it comes time to think about the upcoming season, think about Georgia winning the national championship.