Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Coach Mark Richt - Might AND Right

For thirty years we had been waiting on a game such as the one with the weight and magnitude of Saturday night. For a moment we could feel the thrill of victory within our grasp, and all of the glory and glamour that would come with it; only to get hosed down by a flood of agony. The surges in the highs and the depths of the lows were as dramatic as they were fitful. It took every beat of our hearts just to withstand the experience.

The 1993 timeout game in Jacksonville was nothing. The Jasper was down game on the Flats was a dance in the park comparatively speaking. Nowhere in any nook nor cranny of the inner recesses of my Bulldog mind can I find a time that will haunt me nearly as much as Saturday night's loss will. To be so close you can taste the champagne roll over your tongue and ease down your throat, only to turn to the scoreboard and watch helplessly as the last few seconds drained from the clock.

Sheer, horrible and raw agony.

via Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images
They say misery loves company and she sure had a chair open for each of us as soon as the confetti started to descend. So while I sat there in her chair the last few days, I found more questions still than answers. And while what few answers there are provide little to no relief, it's a process we must work through.
  • To go back and forth on whether it was right to spike the ball or not is useless. I can see fans getting upset if the communication had delayed the play on the field. But Murray and the sideline were on the same page. True, there was some delay in getting everyone set, but the plan was decisive and the reasoning afterwards was about all I needed to hear. Bottom line, they were comfortable with the no huddle and had plenty of time to score. Fate however had a different design.
  • We should take no comfort in the fact that we were right - the line of scrimmage would decide the outcome. Bama's offensive line was monstrous and we had no answer. But we can take comfort that our offensive advantage at specific skill positions - quarterback, running back, and wide receiver most notably - nearly made up for it and proved us wrong.
  • The salt in the wound is walking away from that game knowing we won't finish where we should. In essence, we're penalized for winning the WLOCP and flushed down by both the "objective" computer polls and the subjective human ones to a position that is both an insult to the team that proved themselves worthy of something better and the game as a whole for being such a classic.
  • The Once and Future King by T.H. White was one of my favorite books growing up and there is an ongoing debate in it about "Right vs. Might". Does what is mighty determine what is right? Does what is right eventually prevail? The post-game presser ending proved that Richt is both mightier than some voice and right for defending those who had just given their all for their team and their coach.
  • And to take it further, this game was more than a determinant for Notre Dame's BCS opponent. Alabama is might personified in college football. They are the massive measuring stick that all others attempt to rise to. Georgia needed to prove to national fans, the media and its own following that it could compete at this high of a level. In the end, time expired on Georgia. But even in losing the game, the Dawgs proved that they can indeed play with anybody in the nation.
All of which brings us to a new crossroads. Where do we go from here? And no, we're not talking about Orlando of course. Are we hungry enough to convert those third downs next time? Can we make the adjustments to slow down an offense like the Crimson Tide's? Most importantly, will 'Ol Lady Luck smile on us when the outcome is teetering in the balance?

Time will eventually tell, but I think Coach Richt walked away from the Dome even hungrier. You can't coach in a game of that magnitude, get that close to winning the damn thing and lose your fire. He can get us to where we dream of going. He's proved that to me, you and most importantly to his players. When that happens the loss Saturday will finally be worth the agony it produced inside of us. That doesn't make today or tomorrow any easier and it doesn't make my tortured sleep in the meantime any less fretful. But I've never been any prouder as a University of Georgia alumnus than I am right now. 

And that is as silver of a lining as I've ever known.