It is my distinct honor to report to you that the University of Georgia, the nation’s oldest state-chartered university, can now lay claim to the title of football champions of these, the United States of America in the year of our Lord, 2022. How about them Dawgs!
The final score was 33-18 and, believe it or not, we finally beat Alabama or more accurately, Nick Saban. I saw it with my own eyes and ears on Monday evening and thanks to an incessant number of blathering television commercials, into the early hours of yesterday morning.
It is at this point I must confess to a bit personal hypocrisy. I am prone on occasion to point out that my alma mater is home to 25 Rhodes Scholars, 143 Fulbright Student Scholars and 63 Goldwater Scholars, among other academic achievements; that is one of the top-ranked public universities in the nation and that it has a $6.5 billion economic impact on our state’s economy.
I am most apt to do that when our student-athletes have blown a second-half lead to the above-referenced University of Alabama or when supporters of You-Know-Where Institute of Technology get their skivvies in a wad about our being football champions of the Great State of Georgia and want to talk about all their astronauts.
But deep, deep in my heart of hearts I really do have more than a passing interest in the fortunes of my Bulldogs and an inherent fear of failure. As mentioned in previous commentaries, I grew up when everybody beat Georgia like a drum, including YKWIT which accomplished the feat eight straight years until Theron Sapp broke The Drought at Grant Field in 1957 and Georgia won, 7-0. UGA’s record that year: 3-7.
That glorious event, of course, engendered the famous poem (at least to UGA faithful), “The Man Who Broke The Drought,” by the late Marietta lawyer and longtime Lockheed-Georgia chief counsel Harold Walker, the unofficial poet laureate of the University of Georgia sports program. I can only imagine to what poetic heights Harold Walker would have soared after Monday night’s victory in Indianapolis. (“There was no doubt we were always in it. Thanks to the heroics of Stetson Bennett.”)
Fortunes improved when Vince Dooley showed up in 1964 and began his winning ways but my angst changed from knowing we were likely to lose on Saturday and then losing, to Dooley having me convinced we were going to lose on Saturday and then winning which he managed to do 201 times before retiring in 1989.
Optimism has not been one of my strong suits when it comes to Georgia football. Particularly, when you are playing a team that has beaten you the last four times you have played, including 37 days earlier in the SEC Championship. Obviously, it didn’t matter to the Bulldogs who trailed Alabama 9-6 at halftime and then scored 28 points in the second half thanks in part to two Stetson Bennett touchdowns.
Speaking of Stetson Bennett IV, even UGA’s most implacable foes have to cheer for this guy. He never lost confidence in himself or his abilities even when almost everyone else seemed to do so and he was mired deep down the quarterback chart. An undersized scrapper from Blackshear, Bennett went from a walk-on to the starting quarterback of the 2022 national champions.
Kudos to Head Coach Kirby Smart and Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken who knew what they were doing when they stuck with Bennett instead going back to oft-injured 5-Star transfer JT Daniel and in spite of the blather of anonymous social media ignoramuses who wouldn’t know a draw play from a draw string.
While I am justifiably proud of the many outstanding attributes of my alma mater, whiny, second-guessing fair-weather fans are not among them. I am sure other schools have their share of these boneheads but Georgia seems to have a preponderance of them.
Witness these observations from earlier in the season: “Why are we talking about Stetson Bennett like he’s competing for the starting job…..this is what gets us in trouble. Dumba-- decisions again at the university (sic) of Georgia” or this: “Kirby Smart has to stop killing UGA's momentum with this questionable QB strategy. Stetson Bennett is NOT the starter. He's NOT gonna be the starter. He can barely see over the offensive line. Stop sabotaging your team!” I suspect these yokels couldn’t spell UGA if you spotted them the “u” and the “a.”
To Stetson Bennett’s credit he ignores social media and neither knows nor cares what they are saying. “You’ve got to bet on yourself,” he says. I would sure bet on him before I would the Twitter twits.
The college football season is officially over but for those of us who bleed Red-and-Black, the warm feeling will remain long after the wonderous events of January 10. However, it is time now to get back to my favorite sport – politics. After all, nobody plays games better than our intrepid public servants and their silly season has no end.