It’s that time of year. Lists are being double-checked, hints are being dropped, wishes are being made. Christmas is right around the corner and everyone something or someone that they would very much so like to have in their possession. Well, SEC football programs are no different. There are things on the list of each and every organization, of course with the main goals being making as much money as humanly possible, and in most cases, winning the College Football Playoffs National Championship. Today we examine where Georgia is in their endeavors compared to many of their fiercest competitors.
Alabama. The Crimson Tide is wishing for another successful run in the College Football Playoff. On top of winning the next 2 games, Alabama is simply just hoping to squeeze every ounce of greatness and dominance out of the aging body of Nick Saban. It’s virtually inarguable that 69 year old Head Coach for Alabama is the greatest of all-time. The only question for the Tide is how long Saban continues to want to do what he does. After navigating a COVID riddled season with ease, and beating the disease personally, it looks like there is no slowing down Saban anytime soon.
Auburn is a complete train wreck. Yes, the Auburn Tigers won the BCS National Championship in January of 2011 with the dominant Heisman winning season from Cam Newton and the brilliant play calling of Gus Malzahn. Man, doesn’t that seem like a long time ago. Undoubtedly 2011 is a lot more recent than 1980, but even with the National Championship, I believe you’d be hard-pressed to find many fans of UGA that would trade their consistency and overall success of the past 20 years for the volatility of the team from ‘The Plains’. The culture at Auburn is so broken that 2 group of 5 program Head Coaches have turned down their head coaching position in the last 24 hours and the program is held hostage by power hungry, entitled boosters and a tremendous amount of money owed to the recently canned Gus Malzahn.
Florida just beat Georgia for the first time in 4 seasons and the fanbase was euphoric about a 8-3 season. My, how the mighty have fallen! The dominance of the program under Urban Meyer has become a thing of the past. Kyle Trask and Kyle Pitts are both moving on to the NFL and Dan Mullen will have to start from scratch on offense. The defense in Gainesville was abysmal all season. Gator fans have to hope to be able to replace their quarterback who had an unprecedented, remarkable, yet improbable, year in Trask and also the greatest playmaker they’ve had in over 10 years in Pitts. Everyone knows they’d like to have a new defensive coordinator, but the rest of the SEC has the retention of Todd Grantham by Dan Mullen on their collective list. The talent gap between Florida and Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, and even Tennessee fans is trending in the wrong direction.
Speaking Tennessee, Philip Fulmer is kind of acting like Leslie Nielsen in The Naked Gun when he is saying, “There is nothing to see here,” meanwhile the town is on fire and chaos abounds behind him. Recently, Fulmer came out and gave Jeremy Pruitt his full support as the Head Coach of the Volunteers. Tennessee is losing games, badly. There are now allegations of serious recruiting violations and an NCAA investigation underway. The program had a top 3 recruiting class in 2021 as of this summer, only to see the entire thing crumble on them in the upcoming months thanks to their lack-luster performance and student-athletes taking notice of a lack of direction with UT. While it does seem like Pruitt will be back next season, many in Rocky Top are wishing for change this Christmas and they’re getting the equivalent of a lump of coal.
We won’t even waste time on Georgia Tech. Geoff Collins is a nice man and honestly is good football coach, but it’s just like he’s showing up to a gun fight with a knife at this point.
Georgia finds itself not exactly where it wants to be. However, it certainly speaks volumes where as to the heights the program has risen to under Mark Richt and now Kirby Smart when a 2 loss season and a bid to a New Years Day Bowl game feels like an abject failure. Smart, UGA, the team, the fanbase all expect to be at in the SEC Championship and the College Football Playoff year in and year out. Honestly, with good reason. Kirby Smart has recruited on par with Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State. The one Achilles heel it seems for Smart and the UGA program has been the management of the quarterback position, although it has been far less cut and dry than many would like to make it out to be, and the subsequent faltering of the offense.
The Dawgs have a ton to be thankful for. The program is a relatively young Head Coach that is an alumni of the school, loves the program, recruits his tail off and has established himself as a players’ coach. Smart has a young family and Georgia is his dream job. Undoubtedly Smart will have a large say in who becomes the next full-time athletic director at Georgia as well. The Kirby Smart era is going to last a long time at Georgia. Now, the UGA fanbase and program as a whole has to wish for just a few things this Christmas. The first would be the return of JT Daniels in the 2021 season. Having Daniels return would give the program a ton of stability and provide Brock Vandagriff both time to heal up some nagging injuries and grow into the quarterback position at the SEC level for Georgia. The second would be that from year 1 to year 2 under Todd Monken that the offense sees as much growth as it has from the first half of the 2020 season to the second half. Finally, a couple timely, experienced transfers on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in the secondary and linebacker to combine with an influx of young, talented players and Georgia has the makings of a team on par with the elites in college football in 2021 and beyond.