Friday, July 15, 2011

50 days...into the season

Whether you like Coach Richt, dislike him or are somehow just plain have to give him credit for making some changes the last couple years. Did he wait too long to turn the program around? We're soon to find out. 50 days until toe meets leather in the Dome. 57 until we all meet at Sanford for an early season must win against the Gamecocks.

But today I want to look well ahead of that to 50 days into the season. While Richt is a popular topic of discussion and print, my feelings on him are easily summed up: I like him, I want him around a long time, but it's program first and coach somewhere after that. On this special occasion with just 50 days left before kickoff we need to explore something deeper. We need to get our minds right for the entire season, not just the first game of the season.

Ironically for me, that starts with one game. 50 days into the schedule we'll be gearing up for the biggest game of every season. Jacksonville. The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Georgia - Florida. Battle on the St. John's. Don't think of this season in terms of a number that would make it successful in your opinion. And don't worry about whether our coach will be on the sidelines next year. Richt's the coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. Once toe meets leather it doesn't go beyond that.

Would a 10 win season thrill me to no end? Well, can a black knight score 10 measly points and beat you? I'd love a 10 win season. But I want something more than that. I want once again to cheer for a team that has toughness. Not just at the opening kick and not just on one side of the ball. I want a team that's man enough to stare their arch nemesis in the eye and hunker down one more time despite how much it hurts, how exhausted they are or what the score is.

WLOCP. A one game barometer. A 60 minute reading of the pulse of the program. Beating Boise would be sexy. But proving we can beat the team that's flat out owned us the last two decades is Jennifer Aniston wearing nothing but a Scott Woerner jersey hot! There's no comparison. 

Even beating Carolina as the proposed pre-season front runner of the SEC East would be great and would go a long way towards paving the way to Atlanta. But the road to the GA Dome in December goes through Jacksonville in late October. Always has. The difference between beating chickens and beating gators is like the difference between leasing and owning a car. One's cool. The other is something to build on.

And brothers, sisters...we need hammer and nails, not spackle and a coat of paint. We've been shoveling our own grave for too long. So with 50 days until the season Reader, I'm not gonna ask if you're ready for football. I'm not gonna talk about how cool it would be to beat the Broncos and spoil their season right out of the gates. That's not my mindset. For 21 years we've watched one single game swing in one direction. If the 2011 season is to be considered a success there will be shouts aplenty of Go Dawgs!! from those escalators leaving AllTel stadium October 29th. The drives and flights back to all destinations red and black on the 30th will be peaceful and not tormented like so many of the last 21 times we've left Jacksonville.

We'll know then that our Dawgs are not only ready to start a fight, but also ready to finish it. We won't need a funny looking uniform to pump us up before kickoff. We'll see our Dawgs in their usual road gear and the fervor will come naturally. We won't even need unsportsmanlike flags littering an endzone to punch the opponent in the face. We'll do that because that is what our UGA forebears have done for generations. The WLOCP is our game. We own it and it's been taken from us because we've gotten lazy and proficient at coming up with excuses. It's time to reclaim the GA/fla game, and it's gonna take our full concentration. A complete, concentrated effort. Fan, coach...player. Our voice, their guidance and a Dawgs' heart.

So my question is simple this morning. With 50 days until the season, are you ready for 50 days into it?


Anonymous said...

Great points. Living in Florida since 1993, I've only seen 3 wins in Jax. So, that game is the barometer of the season for me. The 2002 season was still not that great for me because all my neighbors looked at me and said you didn't beat us(Gators) In those infrequent wins, we loaded up and punched them in the mouth on both sides of the ball. That is what we have to do in Jax. The Dawgs should roll into Jax undefeated and punch them straight in the mouth for 4 quarters. GO DAWGS!!!!

Corbindawg said...

Tell it all brother, tell it all. Coach Richt needs YOU to address the team prior to running out of the tunnel before kick off!

Give me a "Woooo".

Da Mighty Fred said...

OK, Bernie, ya finally talked me into it. As much as I hate to hang an entire season on one game, this time you're right- we gotta beat the snot sucking, jort wearing lizard scum or the season's a disappointment. The 4th quarter needs to belong to the Dawgs again-every minute of it This year, it really is all about the WLOCP.

Don't get me wrong. Beating anyone who wears orange or puts a chicken on a flag is fun, but we need to own Jax again. Hopefully, Richt knows it.

As a side note, Flag on the Play!!! One does not reference Anistonian (it's a word, trust me)Hotness without providing a link. Sheesh.

Bernie said...

Thanks for the comments guys. This was a hard one to write. I don't believe one game should be greater than the sum of a complete season. But WLOCP is special. And I do believe at this point one game can determine whether a team has turned things around or not. Florida may not be a giant this year. But that game should tell us a lot about our team physically and mentally.

(And Fred, sorry about the Aniston penalty. I'll try and provide a picture in a later post to make up for it)

AthensHomerDawg said...

Less than two years after playing for the National title there sits Mack Brown #6 on The Coaches Hot Seat - one place removed from Mark Richt at #5. A 5-7 season can do that to a coach……even one of the most revered of coaches. Fulmer had two winning seasons and an eastern division title following his 5-7 losing season. The boo birds perched. That second 5-7 earned him the opportunity to practice his golf swing. Yes he did get that sweet contract extension and buyout. Good counsel or poor AD? You decide. One thing for certain Greg McGarity is not a poor AD. No sweet extension for our DGD Head Coach. One thing McGarity can do is help CMR go out on his terms. McGarity can help navigate but Coach Richt is gonna have to row that boat! Richt is a 6.8 million dollar buy out or 3 seasons removed from doing just that. Lose three offensive lineman and two starting running backs and all of a sudden your rowing in rough seas. Include a disgruntled fan base and you can add stormy weather to the mix. Can Richt turn it all around and make a run at a career like CVDooley? Is history is against him? Not many coaches go out on their own terms anymore. How many wins does he need? I honestly don’t know. He’s got three seasons left. I don’t believe he can weather another losing one.

jef said...