Georgia football stole most of the headlines this year for both good and bad reasons. After a myriad of off-the-field issues kept the team in
the news during the offseason, the Bulldogs battled their way to a second
consecutive SEC East title on the field. Without any further ado, here is Dawg Post’s
month-by-month breakdown of the year-that-was for Georgia.
Georgia football celebrated the New Year in Tampa at the Outback Bowl, where
the Bulldogs suffered a devastating 33-30 loss in triple overtime to Michigan State. The Bulldogs ended their 2011 season with a 10-4 record and an SEC East
Other Headlines: Just
days after the Outback Bowl loss, five-star running back Keith Marshall, a
headliner of the Bulldogs 2012 recruiting class, enrolled early, allowing him
to workout during spring practice. On Jan. 11, tight end Orson Charles decided
to forego his senior season to enter the NFL draft, but safety Bacarri Rambo, along with fellow draft-eligible
underclassmen Shawn Williams, Cornelius Washington, Branden Smith and Jarvis Jones, elected to return for the 2012 season. On Jan. 21, cornerback Sanders Commings was arrested on charges of domestic violence and
“Everybody will be back” – Shawn Williams, in response to underclassmen
returning for the 2012 season.
Most Notable: Despite
limited scholarships, Georgia signed one of the top football recruiting classes
in the country on February 1. Among Georgia’s 19 signees, the Bulldogs signed
four 5-star prospects according to Fox Sports NEXT. A record 13 of the 17
members that made it to campus played in the season opener against Buffalo,
including Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Jordan Jenkins, John Theus, Marshall Morgan, Collin Barber, Mark Beard and Josh Harvey-Clemons—all key
contributors to the 2012 season.
After a 3-10 start in SEC play, the Georgia men’s basketball team broke a
three-game losing streak with a 76-62 upset over No. 12 Florida on February 25.
Mark Richt dismissed cornerbacks Nick Marshall and Chris Sanders and wide
receiver Sanford Seay for violating team rules on
Feb. 3. Richt also announced Sanders Commings would
be suspended for the first two games of the 2012 season following his January
guys are special backs” – Mark Richt, about Marshall and Gurley on
Most Notable: On
March 28, Dawg Post broke the news
that safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree would be suspended for the beginning of the 2012 season for a
violation of team rules.
Cornerback Branden Smith was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana
on March 11. Sophomore Malcolm Mitchell moved from wide receiver to cornerback
to offset the losses in Georgia’s depleted secondary. Later that month, backup
tailback Carlton Thomas announced his decision to transfer. Kentavious Caldwell
Pope led the men’s basketball team defeated Mississippi State 71-61 in the
first round of the SEC tournament, but lost to Vanderbilt 63-41 in the
quarterfinals. The Bulldogs of the hardcourt finished
15-17 overall, and Caldwell-Pope was named to the SEC’s
kids had (pot brownies) that were staying with him and he said he got high. He
thought the things had marijuana in them. He sat there a couple of hours and
didn’t know what to do. He said if he turned himself in he’d get a four-game
suspension for a second offense.” – Bacarri
Rambo’s high school head coach Alan Ingram, when explaining to the Athens Banner-Herald that Rambo had
tested positive in a school-administered drug test.
Most Notable: Georgia
grad Bubba Watson pulled off a miracle finish in a sudden death playoff to win
the 2012 Masters Tournament in Augusta. Watson’s first major victory had the
state and its flagship university abuzz for weeks.
Seven former Bulldogs were selected in the 2012 NFL Draft in late April. Guard Cordy Glenn was the first selected, when the Bills took him
in the second round. Center Ben Jones (Houston Texans), tight end Orson Charles
(Cincinnati Bengals) and cornerback Brandon Boykin (Philadelphia Eagles) were
selected in the fourth round. Kicker Blair Walsh (Minnesota Vikings) was picked
in the fifth round, and Justin Anderson (Indianapolis Colts) and DeAngelo Tyson (Baltimore Ravens) were taken in the seventh
Quotable: “To all
my fans, you got to say, ‘Go Dogs.’” – an emotional Bubba Watson after
winning the Masters on April 8.
Most Notable: UGA
President Michael Adams announced he would retire after the 2012-2013 school
year. Adams, who served as chairman of the NCAA executive committee, has been
actively involved in Georgia’s athletic department during his tenure. Adams
showed beloved athletic director Vince Dooley the door in 2003, handpicked
Dooley’s predecessor Damon Evans and played a big role in the hiring—and
subsequent firing—of former men’s basketball coach Jim Harrick.
Other Headlines: Serving
as the host site and the No. 2 national seed, the Georgia men’s tennis team
fell 4-3 to Pepperdine in the Elite 8. Georgia also hosted the women’s
tournament, and the women’s team lost 4-2 to Duke in the Elite 8. Georgia’s
baseball team completed their only series sweep of a conference opponent when
the Bulldogs beat Auburn in three games at home at the beginning of May. Two
weeks later, Auburn handed the Bulldogs a second loss in the double-elimination
SEC tournament, ending the Bulldogs’ season with a 31-26 record. Georgia’s
softball team saw its season come to an end in the Super Regionals
when the Bulldogs dropped two of three games at Tennessee. Gymnastics coach Jay Clark was forced to submit his resignation on May 4, and Danna Durante was
hired to coach the Gym Dogs on May 23. Ohio State and Georgia cancelled
football matchups between the schools that were planned for the 2020 and 2021
seasons. Outside linebacker Chase Vasser was arrested
for DUI in Atlanta, though news of his arrest and subsequent two game suspension did not surface until August.
Quotable: “I do
believe it is time for a change. And I look forward to the Bulldog nation
uniting under new leadership in the near future." – Vince Dooley on
Michael Adam’s retirement announcement.
Most Notable: On
June 29, Georgia’s leading tailback in 2011, Isaiah Crowell was arrested after
police found a pistol under the driver seat of Crowell’s car during a search at
a roadblock on East Campus Road in Athens. Crowell was charged with carrying a
concealed weapon, possessing a weapon in a school zone and carrying a gun with
an altered ID mark, and by the time he was released from jail, Mark Richt had
dismissed the Columbus native. Crowell, the crowned jewel of the 2011 “Dream
Team” recruiting class, was expected to start at the tailback position in 2012,
but the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2011 soon transferred to Alabama State.
After six months of discussion, head football coach Mark Richt received a
contract extension that would make him the head coach through December 2016 and
no longer required Richt to pay Georgia anything if he chose to leave before
then. Athletic director Greg McGarity also got a pay
raise and a two-year extension to keep him at Georgia through 2017. On June 8,
Georgia announced defensive coordinator Todd Grantham also received a raise
($75,000), extension (through 2014) and new title (associate head coach). On
June 5, the Atlanta Braves selected Georgia pitcher Alex Wood in the second
round of the MLB draft. Georgia’s top baseball signee, Byron Buxton of Appling
County, was selected second overall by the Minnesota Twins. Georgia fired women’s
golf coach Kelley Hester and hired Southern Cal assistant Josh Brewer.
happen." – Isaiah Crowell told Dawg
Post upon his release from jail.
With America’s attention focused on the 2012 summer Olympics in London,
Georgia’s Allison Schmitt became the first Bulldog swimmer to win an individual
gold medal. Schmitt won two gold medals as part of the American relay team, one
of which included fellow Georgia swimmer Shannon Vreeland, and Schmitt also won
a silver and bronze medal in London. In total, 26 athletes, one coach and one
administrator with ties to the University of Georgia participated in the London
A week after quitting the team, redshirt sophomore linebacker Brandon Burrows
was granted a reinstatement on July 9. After notifying Penn State of “intent to
contact” 19 players after the NCAA ruled players in the PSU program could
transfer, Georgia revoked its stance and elected not to pursue any Nittany Lions. Officials dropped the charges against
Georgia basketball player Donte Williams, who was
arrested and charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession in Atlanta in May.
told me she wanted a medal of every color. She’s got them now.” – Georgia
swimming and diving coach Jack Baurle on Allison
Schmitt’s Olympic success.
Georgia entered the 2012 football season with high expectations. The Bulldogs
ranked No. 6 in both the initial USA Today Coaches Poll and the preseason AP
Seven walk-on football players, including fullback Merritt Hall, safety Connor Norman and tailback Brandon Harton, were awarded
scholarships. Branden Smith was cleared to play Georgia’s opener after Smith
passed two drug test immediately following his arrest
on March 11. Baseball player Kyle Carter, one of Georgia’s top new arrivals in
2012, was arrested and charged with simple assault and having a weapon in a
school zone after using a baseball bat to threaten a female unknown to him in
his dorm room. Georgia’s Athletic Association revised its drug testing policy
for the first time in more than three and a half years, though changes were
minor and largely focused on the confidentiality of the tests.
don’t really want to say too much, but when I saw that (No.) 3 running down
there today, I was like `That’s going to be a Trent Richardson.’ He’s big and
fast.” – Safety Shawn Williams when discussing Todd Gurley after a
Most Notable: The
Georgia football team cruised through its first five games, including three
conference victories (at Missouri, vs. Vanderbilt and vs. Tennessee).
Linebacker Jarvis Jones welcomed Missouri to the SEC with a Heisman-like
performance, and Todd Gurley (SEC freshman of the week after Buffalo) and Keith
Marshall ran wild in the first month of the season.
Mark Richt remained coy throughout on Bacarri Rambo
and Alec Ogletree’s suspensions, but the two
defensive stalwarts sat for Georgia’s first four games and returned against
Tennessee. In their absence—among others—Georgia’s heralded defense
struggled in the first month, allowing an average of 22 points per game in the
stretch against Buffalo, Mizzou, Florida Atlantic, Vandy and Tennessee. On Sept. 7, former Georgia women’s
basketball player Katrina McClain was inducted into the Naismith Memorial
Basketball Hall of Fame.
Quotable: “He may
be the best defensive player in America.” – Mark Richt on Jarvis Jones
after Jones’s performance against Missouri.
Most Notable: No.
5 Georgia was upended by No. 6 South Carolina in an embarrassingly lopsided
35-7 loss on Oct. 6, but by the end of the month, Georgia’s 17-9 win over #2 Florida had the Bulldogs back in the SEC East driver’s seat.
Georgia’s leading wide receiver Michael Bennett was lost for the season prior
to the South Carolina game after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Georgia
quarterback Aaron Murray’s house was vandalized following the loss to South
Carolina. Murray received SEC offensive player of the week honors following his
performance at Kentucky. Defensive end Abry Jones
suffered an ankle injury against Kentucky that ended his regular season. Prior
to the Florida game, safety Shawn Williams called out his defensive teammates
for being “soft” and playing without emotions. Early in October, the Georgia
basketball team began practicing.
playing too soft as a defense... It gets frustrating because I’m sitting here
and I’m giving all I got and I feel like I’ve got some guys that are not. I
feel we’ve got some guys that are in a whole different place.” – Shawn
Williams regarding Georgia’s defense on the Monday before the Florida game.
Georgia dismantled Auburn 38-0 as the defense pitched its first shutout of the
season. The win gave Georgia its second consecutive SEC East championship and
ensured the Bulldogs a spot in the SEC title game in December.
Other Headlines: Georgia
won the state championship with a sweep over Georgia Southern (45-14) and
Georgia Tech (42-10). By the time the Bulldogs met the Yellow Jackets, Georgia
had moved up to No. 3 in the polls, meaning an SEC championship victory would
lock up a spot in the BCS national title game. Bacarri
Rambo tied Jake Scott’s school record when he notched his 16th
career interception at Auburn. Georgia men’s basketball won its season opener
against Jacksonville, but the Bulldogs of the hardcourt
then dropped four straight—the first two losses much more embarrassing
than the next two. First, Mark Fox’s crew lost to Youngstown St. and Southern Miss at home, and then the Bulldogs lost to top-ranked Indiana and UCLA in
Brooklyn, N.Y. Georgia signed point guard J.J. Frazier and shooting guard Juwan Parker on Nov. 13. On Nov. 20, Georgia women’s
basketball coach Andy Landers became only the eighth head coach in basketball
history – men’s or women’s – to record 800 wins at one Division I
institution after a 94-57 victory over Savannah State.
is what everybody has been dreaming of. This is what everybody came back for.
This is our main goal, to get to Miami and win.” – Senior safety Bacarri Rambo on Georgia’s chance to play in the national
championship with a win in the SEC title game.
Most Notable: No. 3 Georgia dropped a 32-28 heartbreaker in the Georgia Dome to No. 2 Alabama,
sending the Crimson Tide to the BCS National Championship game and Georgia to
the Capital One Bowl to face a reeling Nebraska squad. The Bulldogs and Tide
swapped the lead four times in the second half alone, and when quarterback
Aaron Murray’s pass was deflected only to land in Chris Conley’s hands as he
slipped to the ground four yards short of the endzone,
time expired on the Bulldogs and their national championship hopes.
Other Headlines: The
SEC Championship game was the most watched college football game of the 2012
season. Jarvis Jones was named SEC defensive player of the year and received a
number of other postseason accolades, including All-SEC and All-America
recognition. The men’s basketball team continued its abysmal start to the 2012
season by dropping a 62-54 decision at Georgia Tech and losing an 81-78
overtime thriller to Iona. After freshman baseball player Kyle Parker was
arrested a second time, Parker left the team and planned to transfer. Georgia
women’s basketball climbed to No. 6 in the country with an undefeated start.
anybody thinks our guys didn’t play their tail off and Aaron Murray didn’t play
his tail off, they are crazy.” A fiercely emotional Mark Richt following Georgia’s 32-28 loss in the SEC Championship game.