Maybe for longer.
Auburn’s Miracle on the Plains was as painful a loss as Georgia has had in its last 12 contests, but it leads to two basic questions – one is more important than the other.
1. Why didn’t Georgia just knock the ball to the ground?
I don’t know. No one knows. This is something that’s practiced every single week. Auburn doesn’t care, but Georgia sure does. It was as simple as slapping the ball to the turf of Jordan-Hare Stadium and escaping with what would have been a landmark win Georgia football history. Instead Auburn, a program that left its team with an empty stadium at the start of the fourth quarter of Georgia’s blowout win over Auburn last year, is on its way to a make-or-break game with hated Alabama.
I fear for the trees of Lee County if the Tigers win that contest.
2. When will Lady Luck smile down on Georgia once and for all?
That’s the question everyone wants the answer to, because after a loss like that and a season as strange as this one it’s easy to give up hope. But as rap soothsayer Snoop Dogg would say: Winning ain’t easy (or what that pimpin’ ain’t easy? I get the two confused).
Now I will admit: I don’t believe in luck. I think it is a tool used too often to describe things that happen, good or bad, that people can’t understand, choose not to understand or are too lazy to explain.
But after that contest – where Lady Luck was flying just above the turf around the 15-yard line – I am starting to reconsider my take on the role luck plays in sports. Because, and make no mistake about it, Auburn was lucky Saturday night – and I hate calling someone lucky because it is very insulting and waters down analysis of sport.
With that said – when does luck go Georgia’s way for good? Think about the many close calls, and one-play-away scenarios for Georgia since Mark Richt arrived: Terrence Edwards against Florida in 2002; LSU winning the BCS in 2007 with two losses, but Georgia not being able to play for it (the argument that winning your conference mattering more than anything else has completely gone out the window now with no hint of irony), and, of course, Chris Conley’s catch on the four-yard line against Alabama in last year’s SEC Championship Game as the seconds ticked off the clock and the confetti fell to the ground.
12 games ago Georgia got a completion when it needed a drop. It needed a drop when it allowed a completion Saturday. Had Conley dropped the ball at the Georgia Dome the Bulldogs would have had one more crack at the title. Had Josh Harvey-Clemons or Tray Matthews caught the ball (or better yet knocked it down) Auburn’s title shots would be done.
But the sky isn’t red its blue. Facts don’t change after the fact – they are still facts.
And the fact remains that this has been a challenging time to pull for the Red and Black. Mark Richt’s blood pressure has probably accelerated faster than his Ford EcoBoost ever thought about.
Georgia Saturdays – You’d better stay tuned until the end (AND CUT!).
Still, it was hard to come away from the Plains without feeling that Georgia was or is snake bitten.
Or is that just sports?
We will never – I mean never – see something that odd again in the next ten or 15 years of football at Georgia, and maybe in all of the SEC. Those sort of catastrophic endings live on forever in the pantheon of sport. Auburn may not win its division this year, but I can assure you that play will be showed or mentioned more often David Greene’s fourth-down pass to Michael Johnson in 2002 at Auburn – a conference championship season for the Bulldogs.
That’s the way it goes. That’s what we do.
Does Kentucky hate Duke because the Blue Devils are pretentious Yankees, or because of Christian Laettner’s shot being shoved down their throats every spring?
One of my best friends is a huge Kentucky fan. He’s not crazy – actually he’s a doctor. He’s a totally normal person... until you say "Christian Laettner."
He would cut Laettner’s face off if he had a chance. And every year, just about tournament time, he has to relive Laettner’s last-second shot to be his beloved Cats. We don’t mention it.
He tries his best to avert his eyes, but it is everywhere – and Auburn’s miracle is going to be everywhere for the next few weeks. If the Tigers beat Alabama and head to the Dome the play will run ad nauseam until they lose – if they lose again.
So while Georgia tries to make sense of a season where they defeated South Carolina, LSU, Florida and Tennessee and didn’t win the SEC East, they can think shift the focus to winning it all once again. And make no mistake – winning it all is the goal.
But to do that you have to be ready all of the time – you can’t allow yourself to be snake bitten. The SEC is a den of snakes, and the snake always bites. It helps to have snake-proof boots on all of the time – not just some of the time.
In the meantime, keep the TV tuned on the Food Network… or Nickelodeon.