A Bad Start, A Bad Finish, An Overall Good Season

I love the college football bowl season.  I love getting to watch football during the downtime around Christmas and there are some interesting match ups.  But outside a few exceptions and notable games (BCS games, National Championship games, losses to Central Florida), not too much emphasis should be put on Bowl outcomes.  Bowls are a glorified exhibition game; this fact does not make them any less entertaining. 

In my opinion, the bowls serve 5 functions, in order of importance:

  1. It gives a school  exposure to a national TV audience.
  2. Bowls give the teams extra practice time.
  3. Bowls are a reward for the players and in some cases, a fun trip for the fans.
  4. They give the conferences a lot of money.

I don’t understand why there is so much discontent amongst Georgia fans about losing the Outback Bowl against Michigan State.  This is not like last year, when Georgia came out and was beaten by subpar Central Florida team: this was Michigan State.  The Spartans were every bit as good as advertised.  They have an impressive resume, beating Michigan and Wisconsin, the two Big 10 teams in the BCS (Michigan State has more “quality wins” than Alabama).   A loss against a very good Michigan State team shouldn’t put too much of a damper on the 10 game winning streak and SEC East Championship. 

Now, don’t confuse this lack of understanding as apathy.  Apathy is worse than discontent.  I felt awful Monday evening after watching the team blow a 16 point halftime lead and blowing a 7 point lead in the final 1:55.  I felt like Blair Walsh from 2008-2010 kicked me in the nuts.  But, for all intents and purposes, it was a meaningless game.

Let’s look back at the 2011 season.   Sure, the Georgia schedule was very favorable, but as I have said before, the UGA schedule is not that much different than LSU and Alabama with the three teams sharing  victories against 6 common opponents-or 50% of the regular season. 

In 2010 Georgia lost 7 games.   Georgia lost to a C-USA team which is a near unforgivable sin.  Georgia lost to good South Carolina and Arkansas team, a mediocre Florida team, a very terrible Colorado, and an elite Auburn team.  2010 was an awful season.

In 2011, Georgia lost 4 games.  Georgia lost to a great Boise State and LSU teams, and to very good South Carolina and Michigan State.  The combined losses of the 4 teams Georgia lost to?  5.  Sure, Georgia’s best victory was against a very mediocre Auburn team, but tell me this:  if on September 1st, if you had said “Corbindawg, Georgia will beat all of its rivals, win 10 games, win the East and hang with the elite West team in the SECCG for a half”, I would have taken it in a heartbeat. 

If you had told me on September 12 that Georgia would win the East, I would have taken it for sure.

Plus, Georgia beat Tennessee, Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech in the same season for the first time in 30 years.  A clean sweep of your rivals is always great.

What is perhaps most encouraging is the change of attitude.  Mark Richt is singing a different tune after this season.   After the 2008 season, a disappointment, Georgia finished 10-3.  Mark Richt (and I can’t find the exact quotes and don’t have the constitution to spend a long time looking it up), said things like it was still a good season and we still won 10 games, etc…

After the Outback Bowl, Mark Richt was still pleased with the good year, but clearly wasn’t settling for just a 10 win season.

Overall, Richt was still keeping a bright outlook on his team, which started and ended with two-game losing streaks, but in between won 10 straight.

“It’s sad when you lose,” Richt said. “I mean you hate to lose. Right this minute you’re definitely not too thrilled. But in time this one will heal, and we’ll get back on the road recruiting, and our guys will take a little bit of a break. … I still think that our guys had a good year, not a great year.”

The change in tune itself is clearly enough to give Georgia fans optimism.  Our head coach has perspective; clearly it was a good season, but not a great one. 

An old adage you hear people say about games after a team wins an ugly game.  Glad they won, but there is just enough to work on and for everyone to keep the focus and edge. 

That is how the 2011 season should be viewed.  Was it a good season?  Hell yes.  Was it great?  Hell no.

There were a lot of things to be happy about coming off the terrible 2010 season.  A lot of the big picture things that needed to be fixed were clearly addressed.  There are still a lot of problems with this team-the running game, the offensive line, the special team miscues and costly turnovers (not like in years past when Georgia had bad turnover margin, because Georgia was 2nd in the SEC in turnover margin).  There are clear issues for the team to address over the next 8 months.  

But 2011 was a nice stepping stone after that abomination that was 2010.  Things are overall trending up.  2010: 6-7.  2011: 10-4.  Of course all this can change with an implosion in 2012, but for now, we should all be pleased with 2011 and, with all the talent Georgia has returning and another favorable schedule, Georgia fans should be looking forward with excitement to the 2012 season.

So here is my plea to all the Georgia fans:  continue to bemoan the heartbreaking loss to Michigan State.  Vent all of your frustration today and over the weekend.  Give yourself a week to complain about the things that frustrated you.  But on Monday, January 9, don’t let one loss in an overall meaningless game blind the accomplishments of a good season.

You don’t want to miss the forest for the trees.


10 Responses to “A Bad Start, A Bad Finish, An Overall Good Season”

  1. 1 eethomaswfnc January 6, 2012 at 8:36 am

    CD, I think you’re right on regarding the big picture. I like 10-4 a lot more than 6-7 and loved the play of the defense for most of the year. I loved beating the “Big 4” for the 1st time since ’81. My main problem was we didn’t finish against MSU just like against USCe. When you look at both games in their entirety, we should have won both games by at least 8-10 points. Both of those losses go directly to our inability to take of the football in crucial situations.

  2. 2 Soundgarten January 6, 2012 at 10:43 am

    I see your point if you ONLY look at the win totals. But what’s troubling is you won’t find a QUALITY win since 2009 against a top 20 ranked team. The team went 0-4 again there. Really no improvement there.

  3. 3 Ericdawg January 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    This really is just part of Richt’s BALANCE IDEAS…….2 losses at front end and 2 at his rear end with perfect 10 in between.

  4. 4 Tuxedodawg January 6, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    We kept things symmetrical. And there’s no shame in that.

  5. 5 azdawg January 7, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    10-4 is a decieving stat.

    We got beat by good teams in the beginning.
    We beat mediocre at best teams in the middle.
    We got beat by good teams at the end.

    Good teams exposed the truth. Our lack of killer instict on offense will get exposed by good teams every time. Ask TG and BVG.

    If Richt wasn’t basically forced to go for it on 4th downs against mediocre Florida b/c of poor kicking, we lose b/c he settles for field goals.

  6. 6 mike mcintyre January 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    i have been a strong bulldawg fan for over 30 years,going to games,never missing any and wearing red and black each day. my living room is full of georgia pictures,rugs,ect. i read each day of the year where the football team is that day.now with the news that mike bobo is the next head coach in waiting???i can not to it any more!!!!

  7. 7 Corbindawg January 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Good teams beat us. We were beaten soundly by Boise and LSU, and lost to Michigan State and South Carolina by 3 points each becuase turnovers.

    UGA had a good team, not a great one. And a good season, not a great one. I just don’t look at wins and losses, the team played very good most of the time and stats prove it.

    And @mike, I haven’t heard from anywhere that Bobo is the coach in waiting, I would like you to show me where you have heard that.

  8. 8 paul January 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    One small quibble. I don’t think that exposure to a national TV audience is really a primary benefit of the bowl system any longer, though it once was. Any team in a major conference gets that fairly regularly now and there are so many bowls today that the impact of participating has been greatly watered down. I think the primary benefits are extra practice time and money. For myself, the frustration about the Michigan State loss centers on the way we lost. We lost in a way that has become all too familiar the past few seasons. We lost in a way that we tend to lose to most good teams in recent years. That is, our loses are primarily self-inflicted. We seem unable to sustain any rhythm against good teams and we do not seem to learn from our mistakes.

  1. 1 10 games is still 10 games « The Grit Tree Trackback on January 23, 2012 at 9:07 am

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