Commentary: "A Win is a Win"
Brad Stephens brings his own Southern flavored sports perspective and humor to Bartow Sports Zone. He is a Bartow County native and has his own law office in Cartersville, but he's mostly a Georgia Bulldogs' football fan.
“Man, it didn’t mean nothin’…”
That was the reaction I witnessed from a fellow Dawg fan after I extolled the virtues of the victory over Auburn this past weekend. I get it – neither team is going to Atlanta. Both fan bases are majorly disappointed and the coaches are feeling the heat. Both teams have quarterbacks vying for “worst in the SEC” and our bowl games will probably be sponsored by a clothing store or a fast food chain.
This is not exactly a reason to celebrate. After the South Carolina game, if you told the Dawg Nation that our quarterback would throw for 97 yards in a 20-13 win over Auburn to take us to 7-3 for the season, you probably would have been laughed out of the building. If somebody predicted we would not score a touchdown against Missouri or Florida, there would have been eye-rolling and head shaking. This season has become one of discontent and dissatisfaction. That is the breaks, figuratively (Greyson Lambert’s descent from greatness) and literally (Nick Chubb’s reconstructed knee).
Alas, here we are. I even found myself becoming “Negative Nelly” for a couple of weeks, which is unlike me. One of my friends called me out and I realized how I sounded – an armchair quarterback with a serious case of male PMS. It is not befitting or helpful to anyone or anything. When I heard the aforementioned fan explain the meaninglessness of the Auburn win, I understood exactly why this attitude cannot stand.
Despite the 7-3 record, we beat one of our major rivals at their place. Georgia and Auburn are as close as it gets, the series was tied 55-55-8 until 3:30 pm on Saturday. With our backs against the wall and down for most of the game, our players bowed up and got the job done. Special teams and opportunistic turnovers win games, just as much as a potent offense or stalwart defense. Auburn fans said we “stole one,” but I say that is hogwash.
The history between the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” runs deep. Many of our past games have decided the postseason future of one or another. Vince Dooley graduated from Auburn. Pat Dye was an All-American at Georgia. The Dawgs’ defensive line coach, Tracy Rocker, was an All-American at Auburn. Rodney Garner and Will Muschamp are on the Plains now, but they once roamed the sidelines in Athens.
We compete for the same recruits. Auburn is closer to southwest Georgia, where many a talented football player resides. The home team has seen more than its fair share of Peach State prospects cross into the Central Time Zone and for some reason, become Auburn Tigers. In fact, over 40 players on Auburn’s current roster hail from Georgia. The school has billboards all over Atlanta, luring wayward Georgians into a trance of unspeakable horror as they travel south on I-85 to join the Auburn ranks.
Jordan-Hare Stadium has been the sight of many a Dawg undoing, but not last Saturday. Our coach on the hot seat with rumors buzzing like flies over a cow patty in one of Auburn’s many pastures, yet we held on. Our offense, as sluggish as a traffic on I-285 at 5:00 pm on Fridays, woke up when the time was right. The defense shut down the passing game and special teams yielded the biggest play of the game, a punt return for a touchdown by the smallest man on the field, Isaiah McKenzie.
Was it pretty? No way. We are accustomed to shootouts where two offenses bash each other to pieces with amazing runs and acrobatic catches all over the field. Sharp quarterback play and two lines that can run and pass block with the best in the country. The games of 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009 were some of the most amazing I have ever witnessed. While this game was not up to par with those contests, it came down to the wire and both teams fought hard.
If we lost, where would we be? If a win “don’t mean nothin’” then what is a loss? It would mean everything. Richt’s seat would be in flames. The discontent would be intolerable. It would hurt recruiting, our bowl prospects, fan attendance for the rest of the year and pundits would fill the social media world with stories of how far Georgia has fallen.
So, take this win and savor it. We have 364 days of bragging rights over our loudmouthed neighbors, who we will see again and again. Recruits saw how we rebounded and took the game in the fourth quarter in a hostile environment. Our true freshmen are gaining valuable experience for the years ahead, which will hopefully have better results. One of our coaches is now famous for injuring Rico McGraw during a celebration. If anything, we are an excitable bunch, Richt notwithstanding.
Then there is Will Muschamp. The guy is literally the greatest double agent the Dawgs have ever had. He takes job after job with our rivals and he just keeps losing. Whoever hired him at Auburn, we certainly appreciate it.
Maybe we can get him something in Tuscaloosa.
What do you think? Post your comments on the Bartow Sports Zone Facebook page or on Twitter @bartowsportszon Use #bradstephens