BISHER: Troubling start for Georgia's football teams

Furman Bisher

Furman Bisher

And you say, "Who the blazes is Peter King?"

Well, right now he is in the same boat with Mike Smith, with Mark Richt, with Fredi Gonzalez, and the U.S. Walker Cup team.

You know Peter, the Sports Illustrated guy who predicted that the Atlanta Falcons would not only make it to the Super Bowl, but win it, and with it, the NFL Championship.

At least Peter King and Mike Smith, the Falcons coach, have plenty of time to make up ground. Mark Richt? The odds are stacked against him. Even Steve Spurrier sputtered that "Georgia outplayed us, but we won the game," a confessional uncommon to the South Carolina coach.

Now with his coat-tail on fire, Richt has refused to lateral the blame to the defense, and the $750,000-a-year defensive coach he lured from the cozy confines of the NFL. How could any defensive coach explain that a defensive tackle in the game to block for the punter fielded the snap and ran 68 yards for a touchdown? How on earth....?

Georgia had time and tools to make it up, but in the gloaming of an autumn evening in Athens, Todd Grantham's $750,000 defense crumbled. And so Richt & Co. open the season at 0-and-2, which a cluster of pundits have declaimed a coaching fatality.

For reasons shared by us all, Mike Smith has come to be known as the coach who can thresh his way out of any morass.

But on the occasion of 9/11 in Chicago, the Falcons stumbled through an afternoon in which their offense suffered through an embarrassing loss. From kickoff to sundown, the Bears overwhelmed Matt Ryan and friends. Embarrassing, in that the Falcons' only touchdown was delivered by a defensive end, Kroy Biermann.

And this is the team Peter King had envisioned as the Super Bowl champion. We're on your side, Peter, but better send for help.

And you are aware of the plight of Fredi Gonzalez and the Braves. They left home on an eight-game road trip, lost six and came home scuffling to stay ahead of the Cardinals.

The Walker Cup? That's the international prize in amateur golf, and our amateurs were taken down by the British team. Our guys held an early lead, but the Brits turned it up a notch and closed it out in Scotland. Not a heart-breaker, but just another shot across our bow while back home Americans were more righteously engaged in a painful reminder of 9/11, a crushing American tragedy.

Furman Bisher is one of the deans of American sports writing. The longtime Atlanta sports journalist is a member of the Georgia and Atlanta Sports Halls of Fame and in addition to his newspaper writing has authored multiple books on major figures like Hank Aaron and Arnold Palmer. He writes periodic columns for the Daily Post.t