Perhaps the Orange Bowl and Associated Press should get together and have the winner of this one declared national champions. Hey, the A.P. Poll is the oldest and most historically referenced, they can do, and vote for, whoever they want.
Here’s to John Peter Zinger and freedom of the press!
It really is hard to fathom that Georgia and Florida State, with the seasons they’ve had, are playing each other and it’s not in the College Football Playoff. Yes, it is the Orange Bowl, one of the New Year’s Six – the term for Major – Bowl games. But if you had gotten an inside tip back on December 1, the day before the conference championship games, that the then top ranked two-time reigning national champion Bulldogs would be battling undefeated Florida State, the Sugar Bowl and CFP would have been the bet.
But it didn’t play out that way.
Florida State is 13-0. The Seminoles beat LSU in the season-opener in Orlando, and closed the regular season with a win over Florida in the Swamp. FSU was perfect in ACC play, highlighted by a win at Clemson and victory over Miami. The Seminoles, minus standout quarterback Jordan Travis, won a 16-6 defensive battle with Louisville in the ACC Championship Game.
No date to the dance.
Georgia’s 27-24 loss to Alabama was just Georgia’s second setback in the last 47 games, and it broke a Southeastern Conference record 29-game winning streak. The Bulldogs fell from No. 1 in the rankings, out of the top four, down to No. 6.
No date to the dance.
There was a sudden, jarring, harsh cruelty to the end of the dream of a national championship for both of these programs. The four who made it all had fantastic seasons, but both Georgia and Florida State certainly felt deserving.
If I’d been promised, before the season, a 12-1 record – so long as the one in the “L” column wasn’t to the enemy – as the back-to-back national champions searching for a history-making three-peat, I’d have taken the deal. It would have been a deal with the devil.
So with those national championships and a seventh straight major bowl, and what we can assume will be a seventh straight top ten finish, in the glory days of the Kirby Smart Georgia Football era, there is certainly hurt from the heartbreaking loss and being left out of the CFP.
In 1969, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, in what is surely an uplifting read titled “On Death and Dying,” proposed her Five Stages of Grief. It’s a well thought out, well written, generally accepted hypothesis. Including a great google-able big by one Homer J. Simpson, who rapidly went through all five in record form.
This exercise has been done before here in Bulldawg Illustrated, but never with Georgia on the mountaintop as one of kingpins and powerhouses of college football.
So here we go with the Bulldogs Five Stages of grief, and what was swirling through the collective consciousness of the Georgia faithful – and I’m sure Florida State has there responses as well – following the gut punch in Atlanta and subsequent committee snub:
1. Denial – No way that just happened. No way they leave us out. Not with back-to-back national championships and just one loss, by three points, on a neutral field. Nope.
2. Anger – Oh, it is flowing like a Sith lord who sat on a light-sabered porcupine. Are you serious?! They don’t review the damn fourth down catch?! Now they’re saying they did?! Well hell, they just solved that quickly. So they’ve either making it up, or they got it wrong! And then they review Arian Smith’s catch?! Which was obviously a catch?! And slow us down. Guess there wasn’t a facemask there. Horsecollar!?!?!?!?! Horse$&*%! Oh, and nice job Auburn. 4th and Goal from the 31. The 31! You rush two! Two?! And let them off the hook. They’d be eliminated and we probably see a different version of that team in Atlanta. Even if we lose, I like our chances a lot better of getting in. Oh, and not all conference championship games are created equal. Oklahoma State? Louisville? Iowa? The damn thing is more punitive than rewarding more often than not. If it would have been canceled in ‘18 and ‘19, the SEC would have gotten two in – including Georgia – and it cost the No. 1 Bulldogs a berth this year too. Oh and how cute that 27-24 was the final score for the Iron Bowl and SEC Championship Game. And Michigan, cheaters! They’re in! What message does that send? The head coach got suspended twice! Twice! He’s missed half their games. &*%$!!!!
3. Bargaining – Hang on now. FSU is 13-0. Georgia is 12-1, two time reigning national champions. As mentioned above, why not a split poll national champion? The A.P. can do it. Especially if Texas wins the playoff. We can still do it. If they do the right thing.
4. Depression – For all the Dogs have done, the history of being the first team to win back- to-back national championships in the playoff era, the first team in college football history to ever be 12-0 at a point in three consecutive seasons, the SEC record 29-game winning streak, one damn game by three damn points. And of course, we got no breaks. We had a chance to make history and be the first to three-peat. Now we’re at the single’s table. With another jilted heart.
5. Acceptance – Back-to-back national championships, 12-1, 26-2 the last seven years against the Jackets, Florida, Auburn and Tennessee. Extending the program records for major bowls and top ten finishes to seven years, six out of seven years in the SEC Championship Game – a record. Another top-ranked recruiting class. Kirby Smart is one of the greatest coaches ever, he and Mary Beth, they’re a part of us, they are Bulldog through and through, it’s authentic, they are the premier first family in the game, Kirby may wind up as the greatest college football coach ever, and he’s not even 50! We’re going nowhere. It stinks for both Georgia and Florida State, but this is a tremendous opponent in an iconic bowl. A win here would be a great close to another amazing season, even though things didn’t go our way in Atlanta. And it’s a damn good bet we’ll be in that 12-team playoff next year, and the year after that. It’s only a matter of time before another national championship flag is flying over our sacred hedges on Dooley Field in Sanford Stadium.
I’m still stuck on Stage Two.
Do the right thing A.P. Poll.