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November 19, 2010

Zabransky's Revenge?

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? 

Quinton

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

When was the last game we won in the national spotlight?

1-1-84, a 10-9 stomping of Texas with ref help in Cotton Bowl?

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/colleges/cottonbowl/history/1984.html

Anonymous said...

I watch that clip, and all I can see is just how good DJ Shockley was.

He was just a damn good dog and I wish he would have a better shot in the pros.

Pl0we said...

Bring on Boise!

Irwin R. Flecther said...

I've got just one comment.

What the heezy happened to our shotgun formation? Am I wrong? I just don't think we have been running the shotgun formation consistently in years.

Hell...I used to get furious about running the shotgun draw and the screen pass on seemingly every 3rd down or in the redzone...now I only get mad at running the screen in those situations. Is it that our backs are too slow out of the shotgun to make plays?

On to Boise...I think you can easily look at it as putting your coach on an island. But at the end of the day, Richt can lose to a "top 5" Boise team, whose coaches have proven that they can gameplan for one game as good as anyone in the country, and can still go to a BCS game (see Tech, Virginia) or beat Florida or win the East...all of which the Boise game has little bearing upon.

I think the big scenario that really sets your scenario in motion...one of more of the top players on the team are suspended for the opener b/c of some stupid infraction over the spring/summer. We lose to Boise b/c of that...it would be a perfect storm for Richt's detractors to line up the firing squad.

One other note...and I think this is more important in respect to how to view this move by McGarity...UGA has to have a claim on the Georgia Dome. You can't let a national showcase game (or two, as will be in future years...) happen in your backyard year after year and not put a claim in on it. You have to make the sacrifices needed to be in that game regularly. You can't let LSU, Bama...whoever...get on a rotating schedule in Atlanta and not be a part of it. It's never made any sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Can Richt swim? This is a great game for Richt to answer that question to McGarity. It has to be done. I like Richt and I'm friends with a member of the football staff. I'd hate to see them go because they're good and honorable people, but McGarity needs to know if Richt can move the program back to the top of the SEC, not to the middle. This game helps fill in the blanks and lines the home game pockets.

Paul Westerdawg said...

I'm not scared of Boise. I'm scared of UGA.

I'm all for playing in the Dome. I'm all for ditching the LVille series.

But why play a team your fan base doesn't respect and won't tolerate a loss to. It's an odd match.

Regardless...we have sweeping systemic issues right now, and we don't have our act together at all. The timing and opponent is baffling.

Will said...

"But why play a team your fan base doesn't respect and won't tolerate a loss to. It's an odd match."

Because they're our in-state rival and we've been ending the regular season with them for decades now?

JaxDawg said...

Look Paul, et al,
the deal is that the University of Georgia should never lose to Boise State in ANY sport, unless it involves snow and ice. Otherwise, there is no reason not to embrace the challenge. It sickens me to death to see our fine program beneath one such as Boise's. Stop and ask yourself, "How in God's name did that happen?". The short answer is coaching b/c it sure as hell isn't talent.

Grow a f*cking pair and play these chumps in the dome. If Richt whines about that then we don't need his ass as our coach.

JaxDawg

Anonymous said...

That team just had a different mindset...we had an attitude and the defense was rock solid. There was also leadership from the player perspective, which has been our biggest issue the last 4 years. You are right, that game would throw coach in the deep end, but maybe that is exactly what we need...

Anonymous said...

I think he's coaching for his job in the next game.
He should be.

Anonymous said...

I think that Coach Richt is coaching for his career against Tech. There is only one unpardonable sin for a coach at the University of Georgia, and that is losing to Georgia Tech.

If we don't win Saturday week, I am not sure that the Boise St. game will not be the UGA coaching debut for Al Golden, Brady Hoke or Jim Harbaugh.

FisheriesDawg said...

But why play a team your fan base doesn't respect and won't tolerate a loss to. It's an odd match.

Because if, after two awful seasons, we still can't beat a WAC team from Idaho (yes I realize they'll be in the MWC next year) in a dome in our backyard...Richt deserves every bit of criticism he gets.

If we had 10+ wins in the last two seasons and were competing for confernece titles, you could excuse a random loss to Boise away as a blip on the radar (much as we did the 2006 Sugar Bowl). But as it stands, if we lose to Boise next year (who is a top five program in name only), it will be an indicator of larger problems. We'll also be staring straight at another 6-6 type (or worse) season in 2011. We might as well get ourselves mentally prepared for whether we're going to suck or not early in the season. It has certainly made the craptacular display of 2010 easier to deal with.

Anonymous said...

Paul-

Not very baffling to me. McGarity's basically making this Richt's last stand. Force him to make more structural changes in the offseason, and if it's obvious from Day 1 that it still isn't working or the changes haven't been made, then that's the show.

Joel said...

I may be in the minority, but I respect Boise, I just don't think they belong in the National Championship game.

The most disappointing thing would be losing a trip to Louisville and taking the Bourbon tour

I noticed 3 things in that video:
1) Shock was awesome
2) we Used our TEs so well (and should be doing now, especially with the talent level there)
3) Erin Andrews has gotten a lot better looking in 5 years

Anonymous said...

It's not baffling to me. It's McGarity finding out if this staff is up to snuff and making money doing so.

Sweeping systemic issues demand McGarity finding out if we have the right man in place. This is a good litmus test. If our guys lose, then a lot of questions about the direction of the program will have been answered.

VAdawg said...

I have mixed emotions about the 2k10 Boise matchups, but I think what it really comes down to is this was an opportunity we simply just couldn't let go by. I know the CFA people had been trying to find a matchup for 2011 for a while, and they offered it to Georgia. This is a truly national stage game in our backyard, the Dawgs just can't turn it down.

I also think it's a little questionable to say that our fanbase doesn't respect Boise State. Certainly we don't put them on the same level as teams like Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma and the likes. But deep down, every Georgia fan knows that these guys have proven they can play. I think a close loss to Boise doesn't hurt Richt's job security, but a blow out preceded by off the field issues might.

Looking at this video made me so nostalgic. That team was so good; especially the offense with Shock at the helm. And I was still at Georgia... What a year.

Chris S said...

In some ways, it's a win-win strategy. The worst possible scenario next year is something like 9-3 or 8-4 in which the Bulldogs lose to Florida, South Carolina, and Auburn and fail to beat a Top 25 team (or maybe pull it out against Miss St at home). That's a scenario in the Bulldogs fail to progress beyond mediocre, but McGarity may not have the support to fire Richt.

I don't think it's really a sink-or-swim game for Richt. If UGA loses to Boise St but performs well in SEC play, the early season loss gets overlooked. If the Bulldogs are merely mediocre in SEC play, the added loss makes it easier to fire Richt (which needs to happen if the Bulldogs aren't better than mediocre). And, if UGA beats Boise St, it's a signature win that energizes the fan base and builds momentum. I don't see a downside.

Chris S said...

And I believe you meant "chic upset pick," unless you were implying it involved Bedouins or condoms.

Will said...

I'm getting really tired of us bailing on series we should be playing. Oregon? And now to a lesser extent Louisville? This is PATHETIC. Georgia should be able to go anywhere and beat anyone, and going to the bullcrap Florida patsy schedule is the ONE reason I thought McGarity was a mistake. Evans may of made his mistakes, but he was a triumph of scheduling.
Regardless of what you think about it now (after we know Richt let the program lapse in the last 4 years), when you originally heard about Okie State and Oregon, you were thrilled because you thought it meant we might start eventually trying for the BIG BOYS. Now, unless Georgia Southern or West Georgia becomes a power team, we're unlikely to get ANY good OOC games.

Valley Dawg said...

PWD:

I think the fact that the UGA fan base might not respect Boise St. is more a reflection of the fan base than it is a reflection of the quality of Boise. Why should we not respect them? Because we slaughtered them 5 years ago? Did anybody respect Colorado?

I'm all for these types of games. It is "Put up or shut up" for both sides.

Also, based on this year especially, why should Boise respect us? What exactly have we done to earn respect? Underachieved to a .500 record?

Beating Boise St. would prove a lot more about the team in 2011 than beating Louisville would. We can't not schedule games we are afraid to lose. Schedule them and see if Richt can use this game to get our act together.

Anonymous said...

Richt has been the head coach here for 10 years. If he can't swim by now, he deserves to be shown the door.

I love this scheduling move, especially since it gets us out of having to travel to Louisville. That never made logical sense to me.

Anonymous said...

"a SHEIK upset pick"? You mean, with a harem and lots of oil money?

Da-yamn, GSB, that is BAD.

ColumbiaDawg said...

I've been saying for some time that Georgia needed to concentrate more on neutral sites rather than home and home. And this especially goes for the Georgia Dome. McGarity needs to make the place a second home like Alabama has been able to do.

If it gets to where we fear playing Boise State, maybe it is time to change coaches.

Ben said...

I think this is McGarity laying down the gauntlet for Richt. Here's a conspiracy theory though... what if McGarity is already eyeing Peterson to offer him our head coaching job if and when Richt is let go/resigns? Would this not be the perfect opportunity to compare the 2 coaches in a head-to-head matchup? Would this not be a great opportunity for McGarity to actually meet Peterson in person? It would also be a great opportunity to show Peterson what he could have at his disposal if he came to coach at UGA. I love Mark Richt and I hope that he can someday lead us to a national championship but if he can't, wouldn't a guy like Chris Peterson be the perfect replacement? It might sound crazy, but it's the first thought that popped into my head when I heard about this matchup. McGarity trained under Jeremy Foley for all those years and what move most established Foley as the premiere AD in the country? Going to Utah and hiring a big time coach looking for a job at a big time school. I know Peterson has said he wants to stay at Boise, but if McGarity can sell Georgia to him like Foley sold UF to Meyer, could he say "no". I don't know. I think the way the rest of this season plays out goes a long way toward Peterson's future at Boise State also. I f they finish undefeated and are left out of the NC game for a 1-loss BCS school, he has to know then that he will never get his chance at Boise State. What does everyone think of my theory? Am I crazy?

Anonymous said...

I'm with Will. The timing is for crap. It's all about money. With the easier schedule why not play a "BCS" Louisville, beat them without our usual 4 suspensions and be ready and not beat up for the CRITICAL SC game. Do this and we don't have a crappy Ga. State (See Alabama) or Idaho St. for us to pay full ticket price to. McGarity is making us a Florida-like schedule clone.......Is that what we really want? Let's pay $120 a game for cupcakes...
ALADAWG

Muckbeast said...

Look at 2:30 in the video.

That's how you fall on a fumble.

Man I miss that offense.

Mike Bobo is such a chump. And its not just about racking up points on bad offenses. Its how we used to have an aggressive offense with a lot of variety.

David said...

I am so sad, watching what we used to be compared to what we are now.

Anonymous said...

I love this move. We should be trying to play in the Dome once every year or two - be it in this game or something we set up on our own. That's in addition to the SEC Championship Game, which we should be trying to play in EVERY year!

Dawgnoxious said...

This matchup doesn't appeal to me at all. Why schedule Boise State like a peer? Last time we didn't even give them a return game, now we're scheduling them like an equal. If we're going to give up a home game, give it up as part of a home and home series against a big boy school.

Plus, if we lose (and let's face it, Richt is aspiring to mediocrity at this point), we legitimize that broke dick school. McGarrity's scheduling philosophy is baffling.

M'ssippi Dawg said...

What I remember about that '05 game more than anything was that it was 95 degrees outside and the power was still out from Hurricane Katrina. Fortunately, I found a total dive bar within driving distance and the owner let me and the wifey takeover the big tv behind the bar, drink cold beer, eat fresh food, and scream my head off for three hours.

Yeah--other than the total devestation--good times, good times.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who doesn't see that this is better for our program than a home-and-home with Louisville is an idiot.

Kudos to McGarity for continuing to clean up Evans' scheduling mess (and I went to the Arizona State and Colorado games...and loved the trips).

Sam, Dawg Fan said...

Re: audition for Petersen, see Koetter and Hawkins.

Now I think Petersen is a very good coach. I like Boise and read a lot on Petersen (living in a MWC conference city). Yet Hawkins had a similar rep as did Koetter.

MOving a guy across the country can also be suspect if he has no base.

Richt stays for 2011. My bet.

Right now Boise is a far better team than Louisville. Boise is also far better known.

Dubbayoo said...

Lots of ways to phrase it but "put up or shut up" pretty much covers it.

BIG ALBANY DAWG said...

that was before we had to recruit against Urban and Saban. Add Spurrier, Chizik, Dooley and now Mullen to that list.

Anonymous said...

Relatively speaking, that’s a long term “terminal” diagnosis for a fan base and alumni group that will not have an abundance of patience should we lose this game. I’ll just say this, if we open 0-2 next year vs. Boise and S.C., Sept, Oct, Nov and Dec will be interminably long and painful as we wait for the shoe to drop. On the other hand, if we head into UT without a loss, the crew of the SS Richt may be riding high. Either way, will make for some good theatre.

Anonymous said...

Virginia Tech lost to Boise St. and then went on to lose to James Madison. You don't think that more than a few people were ready to throw in the towel and fire Frank Beamer? They've been undefeated since and are looking at an ACC Championship and possible BCS bowl game. If losing to Boise is really the end-all be-all, then maybe we should find a new sport.

hailtogeorgia said...

I'm not sure how McGarity's philosophy is so baffling to some. Let's look at the move here:

Play a neutral site game IN ATLANTA against a team considered by many in the nation (the WWL included) to be an elite team. UGA will get 1.7 million in revenue from this game, BSU will get 1.4 million. In addition to this, McGarity negotiated with ESPN and CFA to shoulder half of the buyout we would have to pay Louisville, so we're only paying 600,000 to them. Add a seventh home game to the 2012 schedule and we're coming out smelling like roses, fiscally speaking.

As for the "We shouldn't stoop to playing Boise" stuff, let's face it. Right now, Boise is a legitimate national title contender (whether they deserve it or not is a different story) and this is a marquee matchup. It's sad, but beating Boise will put UGA back on the map and at the very least, the game itself will generate TONS of attention to UGA, while keeping LSU, Bama, etc. out of Atlanta.

As for the criticism of McGarity for putting the pressure on Mark Richt...perhaps that's his plan. Richt will have an overall manageable schedule, but this will remove any excuses about focus. If the team isn't focused over the offseason and going into that first game, it's on Richt. This removes much of the decision making for McGarity...if Richt performs, he keeps his job. If he doesn't and our team suffers, he probably loses it.

It seems to me McGarity is doing a pretty damned good job.

 
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