In 2005, a much-hyped Boise State team came to Athens on a quest for legitimacy. The Broncos weren't yet the BCS perennial and national title bridesmaid they are now. Many in the national media picked Boise as a
sheik chic upset pick to beat the favored Bulldogs because of the departures of David Greene and David Pollack. The result was, um, not pretty.
That game served Boise with notice of what it takes to play college football at the highest level. They seemed to figure it out in subsequent years. Recent Boise teams look nothing like the 2005 Boise team that played in Athens. They are now poised, exciting, well-coached, and don't make a bunch of silly mistakes. In the documentary "Out of the Blue," the Boise players that subsequently upset Oklahoma in Tempe say that during that game, some were thinking back to Athens and using that humiliation as motivation to beat the Sooners on the big stage. (They amusingly recall that trip to Athens around the 9:00 mark in the linked video.)
Georgia has also changed quite a bit since that game. Check out the athletes in that video. Our bench seemed to overflow with playmakers. In the past two seasons, however, it's been the Dawgs who give up the key turnover or make the silly mistake.
Which brings us to the rumored rematch between Boise and UGA for the Chick-fil-a kickoff game next year. Initially, this looks like a sound move from Greg McGarity, even though he has been outspoken about eliminating the cross-sectional home-and-home games we've enjoyed the past few years. We swap a degraded Louisville series for a national showcase game in Atlanta without a return trip. We keep recruiting rivals like Alabama, LSU, or Auburn from that national stage. There's also a tidy bit of cash money split between the teams. All of these are sound points. The Senator makes a fine case for the game and I can't see much fault with his arguments.
But, McGarity might also be clearing out more than just future schedule warts. If Georgia loses to Boise to open the season next year, I think Mark Richt will be declared terminal with the Georgia fan base. Given the steady decline in results over the past three years, there are already many UGA fans who have abandoned their hopes of a championship team with Richt at the helm. If we get beat by Boise, a team that few SEC fans respect, the boosters are going to start passing the hat for a buyout and placing odds on the next coach. In other words, Richt might be coaching for his job in that game. That shouldn't be a comfortable position for Richt considering he will be without one of the greatest offensive threats in school history and his only legitimate defensive menace, both of whom will be sitting on piles of money.
I can hear those comments now. "You're scared." "You're not a real Dawg if you are scared of Boise." So, let me retort preemptively. I'm not scared of playing Boise. I'm all in favor of inventive and courageous scheduling. I want to keep those cross-sectional home-and-homes going, unlike most fans and my athletic director. I'm just pointing out that if you play a national spotlight game with fragile fanbase credibility and lose, the consequences can be long lasting and fatal. Ask Tommy Bowden. McGarity is throwing his coach in the deep end here. Can Richt swim?
Since 2005, Boise has performed at its best when it was in the national spotlight. When was the last game we won in the national spotlight?