It’s now been a full week since our men in Red and Black took it on the chin against LSU in the SEC Championship Game. While the outcome was disappointing, there is no way I or this publication will waver in our support of our University and its beloved football program. I consider everyone in the Bulldog Nation a family, who shares both the triumphs and pitfalls together.
For this reason, digging into the archives of legendary cartoonist, Jack Davis, made total sense for our cover. While Jack passed several years ago, his love of Georgia depicted through his terrific drawings are timeless. I won’t fib trying to hit the right tone for this cover wasn’t easy. My goal was to remind everyone the joy of being a Georgia Bulldog. Without a doubt, the holiday drawing of Jack’s was perfect because who can’t get excited about Christmas. And the same goes for being a Dawg. It simply doesn’t get any better.
Anyone who knew Jack Davis would tell you what a kind and jovial fella he was. This past week, I found myself thinking about what Jack’s reaction would have been to the SEC Championship loss. First and foremost, he would not have been mad or shown vitriol. Instead, he probably would’ve said something like … “Shucks Vance, those big, ugly Tigers were just too much for our boys. But I sure am proud of them for the fight they showed this year. And my, what a wonderful few years it has been.”
So I hope our fun cover strikes a cord and inspires you to support our team by traveling to New Orleans to see them play Baylor in the Sugar Bowl. I fully expect our team to hit the practice field hard over the next few weeks with the goal being to end the 2019 season on a high note.
I feel good about this because I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s Senior Gala the night after the SEC Championship game. Sure everyone in the room was bummed from the prior evening, however, the words spoken by senior Charlie Woerner and Coach Smart were incredible.
Charlie’s main message to his teammates was not to let the LSU loss define them. Instead, he encouraged them to remember their accomplishments of the last four years, but more importantly to embrace the fact of them becoming a great group of men and great people. He also told Coach Smart not to “forget this group up here (on stage).”
Coach Smart certainly didn’t do that with his speech (following Charlie’s). He called this group of seniors the heart and soul of the foundation of the program. He then challenged the entire team to win the Sugar Bowl, which would send this senior class out tied with the all-time wins in school history. But what moved me the most from Coach Smart’s speech was when he reminded the seniors that the University of Georgia will always be there to help them in their future. He also encouraged them to go back and give to their communities because it matters.
I went home from the Senior Gala proud to be a Georgia Bulldog and already chomping at the bit for the 2020 season. But right now, the goal is sending this 2019 team out as winners. I hope this final issue of the year gets you ready for the Sugar Bowl. For a great look at Baylor, don’t miss our A View From on page 18. The Bears will certainly be a formidable opponent.
The Sugar Bowl will also be Bulldawg Illustrated’s Murray Poole’s final game as a media member. Murray, thanks so much for all you have done for my family’s publications. And don’t be surprised if I come to you for an occasional story next year. Murray was treated to a royal send-off at the Texas A&M Monday press conference back in November. Enjoy the photos on page 30, which included Coach Smart giving Murray a Georgia jersey with the number 54, which is the amount of years he has covered the Dawgs and sports.
Now, it is time for me to wrap things up. We will be back in the spring with our next print issue of BI. However, I certainly encourage you to keep up with recruiting (the first Signing Day is only days away) and all the other Georgia sports on bulldawgillustrated.com. And if you get a chance, travel to Athens in the coming months to support our Georgia programs that are representing our University brilliantly. Finally, I wish everyone Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas. Let’s celebrate the joy of being a Dawg by beating Baylor in the Sugar Bowl. Go Dawgs!!