Georgia football finally scales the mountain of College Football.
It has been a long hard journey for Georgia fans dreaming of their team winning a National Championship. They watched as Eric Zeier, Garrison Hearst, and Andre Hastings put together a miraculous 1992 season. These three were able to lead Georgia to a Citrus Bowl win over Ohio State. Those fans also remember watching David Greene and David Pollack lead Georgia to a 13-1 record in 2002 including a Sugar Bowl win. These same fans remember Georgia football coming so close again in 2012 and 2017 only to be turned back by Alabama both times.
So many ups and downs, close calls, and heartbreaks. However, in the end, it was worth it. To stand on the mountain top and look down into the valley where they’ve come is so rewarding. Especially since there were times when it felt like it may never come. With all the narratives circling going into the game you’d think Georgia football had no chance to topple the dynasty that is Alabama football.
Kirby Smart had lost four straight games to Nick Saban. Georgia football had lost seven straight to Alabama including the SEC Championship Game just a few weeks ahead of the National Championship. On top of that their starting quarterback was 0-2 vs Alabama and had performed poorly in those two games. Everything was pointing toward another disappointing heartwrenching loss to Alabama on the biggest stage in College Football.
That was all before Kelee Ringo high-pointed a pass from Bryce Young that allowed every Georgia football fan, especially the long-suffering ones, to breathe a sigh of relief. Those sighs were most likely joined by happy tears and more than a few ugly cries. With one play Georgia fans knew they were champions. They knew that Georgia had toppled Goliath. They knew they were finally kings of College Football’s mountain top.
What this means for the players
First and foremost, if we are going to talk about what this means for the players we have to start with Stetson Bennett. When Ringo intercepted the ball Bennett was all of Bulldog Nation on the sideline. Seeing Bennett’s emotions bubble over was something long-suffering fans could identify with. The former walk-on looked like Steve Young on the sideline of Super Bowl XXIX. He finally got that “he can’t beat Alabama” monkey off his back.
Imagine what was going through Zamir White’s head as he realized he was going to be a National Champion. This kid was born with a cleft lip, battled through two torn ACLs, and ends his senior season at Georgia as a champion. This kid deserves a movie telling his story and all of the things he’s gone through. Zeus is the embodiment of what it means to be a warrior and that is just one of the reasons he is now a champion.
There are countless other players we could discuss. Ringo who caught the game-sealing interception. Nakobe Dean the leader of the defense. Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt who decided to come back for one more year because they had unfinished business. George Pickens who fought through a torn ACL in March to get back on the field in November to help Georgia down the stretch. These players fought through so much adversity to become champions.
What this means for Georgia football
Coach Smart has led his team past Coach Saban and the Georgia football team has vanquished its greatest foe. All of this was made possible by trusting Smart and his process. Over the six years Smart has been the head coach, Georgia has finished in the top ten in recruiting six times and in the top five, five times, according to 247Sports. That includes two number one classes.
This level of recruiting will only increase with Smart showing that winning National Titles are an obtainable goal in Athens. Smart was already stacking talent at Georgia, but the flood gates could really be open now. Especially with the transfer portal being as big of a factor as it is now. Kids that had Georgia high on their lists but decided to go elsewhere may start rethinking those decisions.
That said winning a championship can cause some attrition as well. This is especially true when it comes to the coaching staff. Georgia has already lost Defensive Coordinator Dan Lanning to Oregon and Wide Receiver Coach/Passing Game Coordinator Cortez Hankton to LSU. Rumors are flying around about Todd Monken also being a possibility to leave for the NFL. This isn’t the first time Smart has had to replace assistants and he has earned a reputation for having the right guys in mind to fill out his coaching staff.
What this means for the fans
There had been a severe winds advisory in Georgia this week. However, I don’t believe that is all the doing of Mother Nature. After Monday night’s big win the entire state of Georgia let out one large sigh. The drought was over and one of the most devoted fanbases in all of College Football could finally celebrate a new championship. One that was well deserved and a long time coming.
For so many years Georgia football fans heard about how their team kept choking in big games. Other fanbases claimed Coach Smart wasn’t any different from Mark Richt and he would never win the big one. They heard it all until their ears were bleeding. Over and over for the last 41 years, Georgia fans have heard how they would never be champions again. Yet they stayed faithful.
Their faith and loyalty have finally paid off with a championship. The long-awaited championship celebration was held on campus yesterday. It was everything you’d expect a Saturday in Athens to be like after ending a 41-year drought and winning a National Championship. This is something Georgia fans are going to be celebrating for months, maybe years. They deserve every bit of it. Never stop celebrating this moment. You’ve earned it.