Ohhh, how things have changed.
Major sports teams in the state of Georgia – the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks and University of Georgia Bulldogs – were once a popular punchline for sports fans across the country. The Peach State was an easy target. A lack of championships won by any of those teams since the 1995 Braves World Series title was one thing. But there was also the fact that they tended to fade in the biggest moments, on the biggest of stages.
Well, those days are long gone. A distant memory that seems miles away now.
When the Georgia Bulldogs (15-0) throttled TCU (13-2) by a score of 65-7 in Monday night’s College Football Playoff National Championship game, it gave Kirby Smart’s Dwags their second consecutive ‘ship and represented the third major sports title (Braves 2021 World Series) for the state of Georgia in the last two years.
Remember the days when rival college football fans would mock UGA, citing its long championship drought of four-plus decades with the year it last won?
“Nineteen Eighty,” they said. Now they can pick between “Twenty Twenty-One” and “Twenty Twenty-Two.” Either will do. And yeah, sure, I guess they could still chime in with a “Twenty-Eight to Three” bit in reference to the Falcons’ historic Super Bowl collapse. But they would be reaching at that point. This state’s got the rings now, folks. It’s the golden age of Georgia sports and we’re living right smack dab in the middle of them.
Time to soak it up. But even with the Falcons in rebuilding mode and the Hawks mired in mediocrity, the Bravos are one of the best, youngest teams in baseball. And the Bulldogs? Well, they are primed for more Natty’s in the coming seasons.
“The sky is the limit for us. We can do it again,” said UGA offensive tackle Amarius Mims following the Bulldogs’ blowout on Monday night in Los Angeles.
If last year’s UGA championship served as a curse-killer, this year’s was a victory lap of perfection. It was the first 15-0 season in Georgia’s long football history and it was concluded with a pair of games that couldn’t have been more different. When Georgia escaped Ohio State with a Peach Bowl semifinal victory, the Bulldogs earned their “best win” of the season. The Buckeyes were worthy of Georgia’s full attention and they nearly knocked off the Dawgs.
One game later, Georgia beat the Horned Frogs by a 58-point margin. That’s the largest scoring margin for any college football bowl game ever. It just so happened to come in the sport’s biggest game, on the biggest stage. Instead of choking on its own or falling victim to historic efforts from stars like Tom Brady or Tua, Georgia was the one doing the dominating. Instead of the country tuning in just to laugh and mock the Bulldogs, they were tuning out because of the lopsided 38-7 halftime score. And poor Nick Saban. The Alabama head coach was on the ESPN television set live from L.A. for a front row seat to witness all those points. Not to mention all those players returning next season for Smart.
Who knows when the next Braves title will come. I’m certainly not counting on the Falcons or Hawks anytime soon. But for now, we’ve got the Bulldogs. They have every reason to aim for a third consecutive championship next season. They seem to think so.
“If we can do three, we’re going to do three, and if we can do four, we’re going to do four,” said linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson on Tuesday. “Who says you do two and you’re done?”
I’m with ya, Jamon. I say rack ‘em up.
The Falcons (7-10) ended their season last Sunday with a 30-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was a meaningless win for the most part. It’s official now, the Birdz have the No. 8 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft this spring. If Atlanta doesn’t believe it has its quarterback of the future in Desmond Ridder – and I don’t think he is – then the No. 1 overall pick held by the Chicago Bears might be an option for a trade partner in the weeks leading up to the draft.
Blitz Border Bowl V is scheduled for this Saturday (January 14) at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff between Team Coastal Empire (Georgia) and Team Lowcountry (South Carolina) is set for noon. In its fifth year, the high school football all-star game matches up the top prep seniors from South Carolina’s low country with the best from the coastal empire for one final gridiron showcase. Proceeds from the game benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Coastal Empire. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased ahead of time, online by clicking HERE. The game will also be televised live on WSAV-TV and streaming online at WSAV.com/Sports.