In the city of Athens and the state of Georgia, Bulldogs fans are still talking about the loss to South Carolina last week, and they will continue to talk about it over the weekend because the Bulldogs have the week off.
The loss was as ugly as anyone could imagine, and there are doubts about the Bulldogs being as good as advertised.
That question has been somewhat answered because even though the Bulldogs got drubbed by South Carolina, they still have to face an improved Florida team that is starting to look legit every time it steps onto the field. And it’s not a guarantee the Gators will run over the Bulldogs.
A bigger question that has to be asked—and it has to do with this year and the previous years under Mark Richt, as well as Jim Donnan and Ray Goff—is, will the Bulldogs ever take the next step?
The next step in this case would be winning SEC title on a consistent basis and making it to a BCS title game.
Georgia has been close under the early years of Richt, but it would be one game where the Bulldogs would not play their best, which would keep them out at a shot at the crystal ball. The Bulldogs win SEC titles in 2002 and 2005, but key losses to SEC opponents would keep them out of the BCS title game.
Richt has done a nice job turning the program around after Goff and Donnan had issues winning on a consistent basis. Out of the 12 years he’s been with the program, Richt has had seven 10-win seasons and is on his way to having another 10-win season in 2012.
But Georgia fans want more. They want what Alabama, LSU, Florida, Auburn and Tennessee have done since 1998, and that’s win a national title.
But will it ever make it to that level based on the way the program is constructed now?
It has the talent to make a run because it does well recruiting in-state. In fact, a good amount of the players that play on teams like Florida, LSU and Alabama come from the state of Georgia.
So is there something that Richt is not doing? Can it be corrected with a change of style when it comes to recruiting?
What it comes down to is this. Georgia is a very good program, and there are close to 95 FBS schools that want to be where the Bulldogs are right now. But being very good is the enemy of great, and if the Bulldogs want to be great, they have to strive for that every time they are out on the field.
There were thoughts that this would be the year Georgia could go all the way, just like it thought that in 2008. But like this year’s team, the 2008 team suffered a disappointing loss to Alabama and could never recover. The book has not been written for the 2012 season, so there’s a chance they could bounce back and win 11 or 12 games.
But if the Bulldogs miss a shot at the SEC title by one game, fans will point to South Carolina, which would mean the Bulldogs had another very good year, but not a great one.
The Bulldogs have a rich tradition if football. There are only two teams in the SEC that have won more conference titles than them (Alabama and Tennessee), and they have won a lot of regular season and bowl games in the last 40-50 years.
But do they have what it takes to reach the top of the mountain one day? Anything is possible in college football, and Richt certainly is a good enough coach to get them there. But if they want to be where Alabama and LSU are right now, they have to stop being very good and start striving to be great from here on out.