Well, here we go again.
My beloved Georgia Bulldogs lost the early-season Big One again, and in ugly fashion. They slipped out to sea, their SEC and BCS championship hopes "distant ship's smoke on the horizon," as the song says.
Then they started marching back again, slowly climbing, boosted by spirit and a whole lot of Ol' Lady Luck. Soon they were beating SEC arch-nemesis Florida. Then they clinched the East. Then a whole bunch more of other teams losing and here we are, back in the Big One, late-season version, and looking for a chance at the Even Bigger One, you know, the one where another team runs around for awhile and then they give the National Championship to whatever SEC school happens to be playing in the title game each year.
I want that team to be the Georgia Bulldogs this year. I want to silence Alabama, their yellow hammers and their legion of super-smug, hound's-tooth-hat wearing football know-it-alls (with apologies to my cousin Allison, who is one of a couple of people I've forgiven for yelling "Roll Tide," the other being my Pop Hunter). I want to shut up the hordes of Notre Dame fans and sportswriters who never fail to bow down before the altar of South Bend and Touchdown Jesus (you folks do know it's not actually God's team don't you?)
But mostly I want to shut up our own fans. Yes, you read that right.
I want to win the SEC and then win it all because I don't want to hear the calls for Mark Richt's head anymore.
As Gwinnett Daily Post sportswriter and resident football expert Brandon Brigman pointed out to me, lose this weekend or in January, and the same refrain will begin to be sung by the Bulldog faithful-when-we-win: Fire Mark Richt because he can't win the Big One.
It happens every year. We lose a game.
Most teams lose a game or three. It's getting harder and harder in college football to go undefeated. Georgia is no different. We lose, usually to South Carolina or Florida, and because we play in the toughest conference (no matter what the UGA- and SEC-hating Paul Newberry says) it ruins our chances of playing for a conference or national title. And then the naysayers come out of the woodwork because it obviously must be Richt's fault.
My question to all my fellow fans would be this: Who else are you going to get?
If the Dawgs do come up short and some of the UGA elders do bring you Richt's head on a pike, who is your replacement? Gene Chizik? I mean, after all, he won a national championship, didn't he? And then he lost pretty much every game afterward. But he won the Big One, and I hear he's looking for work.
The point is this: Richt has won exactly of all the games he's coached at UGA. That's an incredible accomplishment. He's 7-4 in bowl games. He doesn't have the best record in the SEC title game at 2-4, but he did win two more SEC titles than either Ray Goff or Jim Donnan managed during their tenures. And he has given us a chance to win the SEC nearly every year. His teams have beaten Florida four times, which is two more times than Goff and Donnan combined, only lost to the North Avenue Trade School once, and he has a better winning percentage in bowl games than no less an icon than Vince Dooley.
The man is a great football coach, he has restored a winning tradition to the University of Georgia, and I'm sticking with him because eventually he'll get one of those crystal football trophies.
Please, God, let it be this year.
Email Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.