Thursday, September 4, 2008

Reactions to Being #2

Well, that was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it? I’m delighted to say that I was in attendance Saturday to hear with my own singular functioning ear (that’s a story I’m sure will surface at some point during our ramblings on this blog…but not now) when the PA announcer at Sanford Stadium proudly introduced the Number one ranked Georgia Bulldogs.

I warned Earl and Streit on the way home that I didn’t think the Dawgs’ performance Between the Hedges would warrant keeping them in the top spot of the polls. Knowing full and well that the pollsters would display their utter disregard for common decency and sportsmanship during this week’s voting, I am not at all surprised that USC jumped two spots to sit at the Apex of college football, previously occupied by our beloved Peach State Doggies. As for the expectations of the voters, both coaches and writers, that a team assert its dominance against a lesser foe by running up the score to unconscionable levels…well, I place that blame squarely on the shoulders of one Steve “Satan Spurrier. The era of the “fun and gun” in Gainesville has shifted the perspective of what makes college football great.

Satan and his minions

Sure, it’s about rivalry, and deep-seated, generational reinforced hatred of one’s arch nemesis (and in the case of the SEC, all schools except Vandy…who usually just doesn’t pose enough of a threat for us to worry about). Sure it’s about the debate over “how much better my team is than yours.” One of the great things about conference play is that a college football fan can puff out his chest and boast about how his team will beat your team by four touchdowns with little risk that your two teams will actually ever have to play each other (especially in the case of the power teams from the Pac-10 and SEC, thanks to the Rose Bowl’s embargo on teams from south of the Mason-Dixon line). I don’t think that leaving in your first-string players for the whole game and completely dominating an inferior team in the first few weeks of non-conference play makes those arguments any more valid. To me it seems that teams who run up the score on the little guys are acting out on a secret inferiority complex and hiding behind the big numbers on the scoreboard. Is USC an inferior team trying to hide something? I don’t think so. They’re as legitimate a #1 as anyone else in the country. They are certainly more likely to finish their schedule undefeated than is Georgia. But maybe it’s the weakness of their schedule that they’re trying to hide with point totals nearing triple digits...

Am I angry that we were ousted from our #1 ranking in both polls even though we won convincingly against a Division I-AA team who may have given “ACC powerhouse” Virginia a run for their money? Not really. I really didn’t want to start at #1 anyway. When you start at the top, the status quo becomes good enough; there’s no incentive for improvement. I want our Dawgs to get better, and better, and better. I want to move up in the polls each week and make whoever sits at the top scared. I’ve said since January that the optimum place for Georgia to start the season would be in the top 5…but behind Florida. I would much rather enter an undefeated Showdown on the St. John’s as an underdog according to the polls than having the bulls eye from our end zone celebration lit up by a great big neon #1 sign hanging over our sideline in Alltel Stadium.

This just never gets old...

I am; however, disappointed in the fickle, knee-jerk reactions of coaches and writers who likely only put the scores of the USC-UVA game and the UGA-GSU game up against each other and picked the biggest margin. Mark Richt has had some great thoughts on running up the score:

“I would say you’re running it up if you’ve got your first-team players in the game with five minutes to go and you’re up by 40. If you’re still throwing bombs, maybe that’s running it up. I think it’s the defense’s job to slow people down anyway.”

And to paraphrase Evil Richt’s position on running up the score: “Who said I haven’t tried to run it up before?!? Maybe we just couldn’t!”

While it may
cost us a spot in the polls here or there, I hope that Georgia remains a classy program with integrity enough to resist the temptation to score as many points as humanly possible in a plot to defile and humiliate the opponent. Unless, of course, that opponent is Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, South Carolina, LSU, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, USC…

1 comment:

BulldawgJosh said...

So does our lower ranking directly correlate to a lower ticket price from scalpers?