ENGLEWOOD, CA – For a long time, Georgia has been the flagship program for the really best but not great. It produced a few decades of beautiful seasons ending in great bowl games played by a lot of good players in red, white and black. But the Dogs have always been a few steps away from the sports elite.
They were always one play shy of beating Alabama. Always a few five-star recruits behind Florida. Always a few inches short when measured against the true ruling class of college football, even as this class’s president has been rolling through different eras and teams, from Miami and Nebraska to Southern California and it seems like every team in the SEC except the one in Athens, Georgia.
But on a humid Monday night outside Los Angeles, the Georgia Bulldogs didn’t simply carve their name on the measuring stick by which all other college football programs are measured, they pulled that stick from the office and beat the TCU Horned Frogs with it. Now, the conversation about Georgian football is not about what it was not capable of. It’s about what it might be able to do that few have done before: move beyond build championship seasons and move into championship era builds.
Kirby Smart admitted as he headed from a confetti-covered SoFi stadium to a locker room filled with cigar smoke after winning the College Football Playoff National Championship. “But I know what a great program looks like, a program that’s built to last. I’ve been a part of four national championships as an assistant coach at Alabama. I know how hard it is to get to the pinnacle of the sport, and I know how hard it is to stay there. I know what the foundation of that looks like. I think We are building that foundation. I hope we are.”
Consider it built. The concrete has been poured and cured and looks like it was built to last.
UGA won its second consecutive national title, only the fourth team to do so since 1990 and the first in the nine-year era of the college football playoffs. It did so by defeating the likes of which had not been seen in a college football game of any format in the 152 years of college football. Not the 1971 Orange Bowl (Nebraska 38, Alabama 6). Not the 1972 Rose Bowl (USC 42, Ohio State 17). Oklahoma 1985 (25-10 over Penn State). 1995 Nebraska (62-24 over Florida). USC in 2004 (55-19 over Oklahoma). Florida in 2006 (41-14 over Ohio State). Not even the former holder of title game dominance: Alabama at Notre Dame 42-14 in the 2013 BCS Championship. Miami in 2001, LSU in 2019, whatever happens while browsing the record books… none of those juggernaut teams or evenings is… Balanced on the net coming close to the Bulldogs 65-7 Bulldogs that took place Monday night at SoFi Stadium.
It demoralized the rookie Horned Frogs and sent chills through the souls of any team hoping to stand in the TCU cleats anytime soon. It was a lopsided postseason win since bowl games first appeared in Pasadena, California, in 1902, capping a 17-game winning streak, the longest for Georgia since 1947. It spans two seasons and is the most ever for an SEC school. Monday’s victory was rewritten page after page from the college football history textbook.
“Georgia, you’ve obviously seen them in the last couple of seasons now, they’ve really taken over college football.” The statement was made by former Georgia All-American player turned TV analyst David Pollack during ESPN’s halftime coverage of the game, when the score was 38-7.
He said this while sitting next to the network’s guest analyst for the evening, Alabama coach Nick Saban.
If that can be said, the game was worse than the outcome. It was such a chokehold that Georgia quarterbacks Stetson Bennettshortly after connecting the LSU signal is connected Joe BurrowAnd the CFP title game was drawn for the points responsible (36) from the game… with 13:25 left in the fourth quarter.
This is a team that has lost 15 — yes, 15! – Players in the 2022 NFL Draft, five more than any other team, simply reloaded. A defense that was supposed to take a step back after a 2021 unit that was statistically among the all-time greats, instead limited TCU — which entered the game averaging 474 yards and 41 points per game — to 188 yards and one solo TD . A team that looked emotionally and physically drained after a New Year’s Eve thriller win over Ohio State in the CFP semifinals responded by embarking on a week of training that Bennett described in the days leading up to the title game as “a damn rebuilding project.”
This week, Bennett, 25, remembers quickly praising the UGA scout who played TCU’s quarterback Max Dugan. “I’m done now, but I think those of us still here, and maybe those of us who are gone, have a responsibility to make sure that continues. Make sure you feel the pressure of keeping up with what’s been built.”
The commentary showed the shades of those teams Georgia once chased after. The legendary Miami Hurricanes are calling out from the NFL locker rooms to these youngsters now in their beloved orange and green to ask what happened after a loss to an opponent or one that ended a streak. Veterans of Saban, Alabama show up for spring practice to talk to their heirs about preserving the principles of operation.
“It’s what we all have to guard, complacency, and I’m talking about coaches, players, even fans, who never take a day like this tonight for granted,” said Smart, who has played defense against a lot of those good but never They never do. The Great Bulldogs Teams of the ’90s. “You have to expect to be in these games and expect to win these games, but you can’t just assume that’s going to happen. And I think that’s why trying to win a third championship in a row is going to be an even steeper challenge than this one was. We’ve lost a lot. From the players last year and we have more players coming back next year. Those are more opportunities for complacency.”
It’s also greater opportunities to draw on experience, build on that, and do that. More than half of the starters this season were redshirt sophomores or younger. They will be paired with what will be Georgia’s seventh straight top three recruiting class.
Smart is only 47 years old. His former mentor, the man sitting awkwardly next to Pollack, is 71 years old. The goat was completely focused on what was in front of him. Saban always. “I find it hard to watch football because it’s always on,” Saban admitted on the morning of the match. “How do we plan against this? How do they accomplish that? And in the case of what Kirby did in Georgia, that’s especially true. That’s the greatest compliment I can give any program, that everyone in our business should watch everything you do.”
Yes, there are plenty of cautionary tales when it comes to the supremacy of college football. transfer portal name, image, example (none); Expanded Playoffs – The list of things that have derailed the Strongmen and could do the same for the Dawgs in the future is ever-changing. All of those aforementioned teams, from Miami to Nebraska to USC, have fallen from the “Unbeatable!” to “What happened to these guys?” It was just four winters ago when Clemson was playing in its fourth CFP title game in five years, and since then it has been slowly slipping out of the national conversation.
But even the players and coaches of these elite programs, hailing from everywhere along the college football history timeline, likely spent Monday night like the rest of us, watching the Georgia Bulldogs and wondering if what we witnessed against TCU might have been closer. Far to the beginning of something greater than any conceivable end.
“I want to have fun tonight, and I will,” said Georgia. Brock Powers, All-American tight end who hauled seven catches for 152 yards and a TD. He is also one of those sophomores. “But we get back to work as soon as we get home. There’s always work to be done.”
This is how it goes when you build an empire.
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