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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How Georgia becomes the next Auburn

Let’s leave aside all the justified questions about how Auburn arrived at its national championship. It still ended up where it is, becoming the fifth straight SEC team to hoist that weird crystal ball – the one Orson Charles once broke – and the fourth different one over that span.

Some incredible stats about the SEC’s dominance since the BCS began in 1998:

- Seven of the 13 different champions have been from the SEC. That’s more than any other league has won in the history of college football.

- The SEC has had as many different teams win titles in the past five years (four) as the Big Ten has ever had. (Not counting Penn State, which was not in the Big Ten when it won its titles.)

- In the past 13 years, half of the SEC West (Alabama, LSU and Auburn) and one-third one of the East (Florida and Tennessee) have won the national championship.

And yet, for all its history, and its 96 wins since 2001, Georgia is not one of those teams.

Never mind an argument over what’s gone wrong. For the sake of a blog post, let’s say Georgia is going to be that next team to join the party – as a few current and former players tweeted on Monday night. What has to happen?

And I mean next year. Hey, who thought Auburn would do it this year? Here’s my list:

- Justin Houston decides to come back to school. (Not likely, but it’d be a start.)

- Brandon Boykin and Cordy Glenn also decide to come back. (Both possible. We’ll know by Friday.)

- Isaiah Crowell, Jonathan Jenkins, Ray Drew and Malcolm Mitchell sign on the dotted line. (That’s their order of importance for next year, in my opinion. Jay Rome may be a great player, but tight end is not a need position for the Bulldogs in 2011.)

- Crowell’s presence, or at least a general improvement in the running game, take Georgia from ranking 10th in the SEC in rushing offense to at least the top four of the league.

- Aaron Murray not only doesn’t have a sophomore slump, he’s even better. Yeah, it'd be hard to ask him to improve on his stats (24 TD, eight INT, more than 3,000 yards) but we're talking national championship here.

- Tavarres King and Orson Charles emerge as big-play receivers, replacing A.J. Green and Kris Durham. It also wouldn’t hurt for Marlon Brown to have a big year.

- The defense makes a big leap in its second year under Todd Grantham (Gran-tham, people, not Gra-ham). After ranking seventh in the SEC this year in scoring defense and fourth in total defense, it moves up to at least fourth in scoring defense and in the top three in total defense.

More importantly, the rush defense (seventh in the SEC this year) and pass defense (sixth) each rank in the top three.

- Jarvis Jones, playing outside linebacker, is a force. The transfer from Southern California records at least eight sacks and 20 quarterback pressures. (I’m assuming he replaces Houston.)

- Either Christian Robinson, Marcus Dowtin or Richard Samuel steps up to fill the Akeem Dent, tackle-machine role.

- Jenkins, playing nose tackle, allows DeAngelo Tyson to play his more natural end position. If Jenkins doesn’t sign up, Kwame Geathers or Justin “Bean” Anderson make big strides in spring practice and preseason.

Either way, if you watched Nick Fairley in Monday’s game, it’s hard to foresee Tyson playing nose tackle on a national championship team. And that's by no means a shot at Tyson; this team just needs a classic nose guard.

- These returning players firm up after so-so years: Bacarri Rambo, Boykin, Ben Jones, Cornelius Washington and Branden Smith.

- These other newcomers, or ones who didn’t play most of this year, solidify need positions: Damian Swann, Alec Ogletree, Richard Samuel, Kenarious Gates, Ken Malcome (if Crowell doesn’t sign), Abry Jones and Garrison Smith.

- Drew Butler and Blair Walsh don't get any foot infections.

So … yeah … That’s all. Not a huge list, is it?

Next year's championship game is in New Orleans. That's reason enough to dream, isn't it?


sUGArdaddy said...

What I'm about to say seems insane, but we probably will do it next year because that's the luck of the Dawgs.

I've always said we'll probably win the national title in a year the game is in N.O. because that's just our luck. I go to every game, so this bugs me.

-One of the years we win the SEC, the games in Atlanta, not N.O.

-When we make the BCS as an at-large, and the SEC champ has 2 losses, a miracle sends us to N.O. instead of Miami or Pasedena.

-Whenever we go to Orlando or Tampa, we get Mich. St, Purdue or Wisconsin instead of Penn St., Ohio St. or Michigan.

We just have bad bowl luck. So, yeah, we'll probably do it this year. Now, mind you, N.O. will look just fine to me around Jan. 8 if that's the case.

Anonymous said...

WTF is wrong with New Orleans? You don't have to buy a house there, just a hotel room.

Also, considering that Aaron Murray only had, what, two INT's when not playing Florida schools, yeah, he can improve.

Anonymous said...

I was there on Janary 1, 1981 when we beat Notre New Orleans. It was a damn fine thing. Let's do it again.

sUGArdaddy said...

Like I said, there's nothing wrong with it. It's part of Georgia tradition and something feels 'right' about it when an SEC team wins the MNC there.

But, we've been there, done that. And, as a fan that travels to every game, it'd be fun to go to the other BCS sites, and usually the only way to do that is win the title in years the other 3 places are hosting.

I just think it'd be cool to win at some other places, too. Mostly, it'd just be cool to win again.

Anonymous said...

No disrespect but NOLA is the best bowl site in the country. I wouldn't mind the SEC putting the SECCG game down there every now and then. Gambling, drinking, and football at its finest!

Anonymous said...

I'll go to Guam if it means we win a national title. Of all the things to gripe about, the destination of a title game is not one of them.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that the freakin' truth? Complain about going to BCS Championship Game in New Orleans? Wake up & realize what you just said!!!!

nate said...

we need suitcases containing $180,000 delivered to the mama's of drew, crowell, rome and jenkins. they come to uga but have plausible deniability so there are no ncaa sanctions ala one cameron newton. it has worked perfectly so far on the plains.

seriously, i don't think we want to become the next auburn

Castleberry said...

I like the list and I'd put one more nugget out there... our coaches need to take some notes from Monday night's game. Start taking a few more calculated risks that position us to win.

Case in point - who can imagine us running that extra play at the end to get it down to two seconds? I'd think our staff would have saved the down and the timeout in case we had a bad snap. We've been playing not to lose and that has to change for your miracle scenario to come true.

Russ said...

Good story/list, though it somehow depresses me. I'm not sure all those things can happen. I'm also sure no one at Auburn last year at this time thought they'd be here today, so it can definitely happen.

I read one of Loran's columns after the Liberty Bowl where he talked about Dooley after the 1974 season (very similar, lost to Miami of Ohio in the Tangerine Bowl). After the game, Dooley just told the players to get ready to work and that it wouldn't be fun, but he was going to make sure Georgia returned to playing football like Georgia should. Then he turned around and left the lockeroom. 1975 was the year of the Junk Yard Dogs, and we had a great turnaround. 1976 we won the SEC.

I'd like to think Richt did the same after the Liberty Bowl, but I suspect he just hugged everyone and told them he loved them.