The Blue Bloods of college football are a relic of the past. The result of stringent broadcast restrictions implemented by the draconian National Collegiate Athletic Association from the 1940’s through the early 1980’s that allowed only eight national broadcasts per season and limited regional television broadcasts. From the ‘40’s to the early ‘80’s when children tuned in to watch college football, odds are they were watching Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas or Southern California. This resulted in the creation of the mythical Blue Bloods of college football. From 1940 through 1980 the Blue Bloods combined to win 22 of 40 National Championships.
In 1981, the University of Georgia commenced a revolution that marked the beginning of the end of the Blue Bloods. UGA filed a lawsuit against the NCAA alleging anti-trust violations with the television contracts. Other universities followed and on June 27, 1984, the United States Supreme Court ruled NCAA’s television contracts violated Sherman Act covenants opening the door for schools and conferences to negotiate their own college television contracts. Additional television broadcasts led to increased national exposure for additional programs and was the beginning of parity in college football. The Blue Bloods of college football were extinct.
The Blue Bloods vanished and were supplanted by dynasties. The Miami Hurricanes from 1986 – 1992. The Tom Osborne led Nebraska Cornhuskers from 1993-1997. The Florida State Seminoles from 1992 – 2000. Pete Carrol’s USC Trojans from 2002 – 2008. Most recently, Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide from 2008 – Present. History proves all dynasties come to an end – the only question remaining is – Who’s Next?
Since Alabama’s reign began battles have been lost to Cam Newton’s Auburn Tigers, Jameis Winston’s Florida State Seminoles and Deshaun Watson’s Clemson Tigers. Still, Alabama was always winning the war. Never rebuilding, always reloading. Threats to Alabama’s crown have been swiftly and overwhelmingly quelled. Urban Meyer and Ohio State took their shot and currently Clemson is fighting to stop the rolling Tide. However, the program with the best chance to take down the kings of college football is The University of Georgia.
When the Vince Dooley era came to an end the Georgia program went dormant under Ray Goff and Jim Donnan until Mark Richt ushered in an awakening. What Mark Richt did for the University of Georgia cannot be overstated. He lifted the program from the ashes of irrelevance into regional prominence. Unfortunately, the program stalled. Georgia could beat anyone on any given Saturday, but they could also lose. It was time for a change and the change agent was Kirby Smart.
Nineteen games into Kirby Smart’s tenure as Head Coach of the University of Georgia it is safe to say that a change in culture has arrived. Not only is Georgia winning football games – they are dismantling opponents and making them quit. The scary part for the rest of the SEC, and the country, Kirby Smart is doing this with Mark Richt’s players. This speaks a great deal to the character of the young men that Richt recruited to Athens. Typically, when a coach leaves a program there is an exodus of players or at a minimum, division in the locker room. That did not happen at Georgia, there was complete buy in to doing things the Smart Way. The locker room believed in Smart and the decision of Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy and Dominick Sanders was the turning point for this program. In the words of Larry Munson, this is “a new breed of Bulldog”.
Kirby Smart and this new breed of Bulldogs are in a position to finally realize the Georgia programs elite potential. The Bulldogs are dominating both lines of scrimmage and recruiting at a level never before seen in Athens. College football has never experienced UGA dominating the state of Georgia in recruiting. With continued on-field success Kirby Smart & Co. has the potential to do just that. It is a unique and distinct advantage over every other program in the country.
The Georgia program has not arrived. Ascension to the throne of college football is not inevitable. But for the first time since the early 1980’s it is possible.
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