Improbably, Georgia is in control

semerson@macon.comNovember 18, 2012 

ATHENS -- Sanders Commings, Georgia’s senior cornerback, said it best Sunday morning via his Twitter account.

“And I wake up pinching myself,” Commings wrote. “(Yeah) it’s real. We control our own destiny.”

The Georgia football team was basically left for dead just six weeks ago, written off from its stated preseason goal of reaching the BCS championship game. But after a dizzying Saturday night, the Bulldogs, as Commings pointed out, are in prime position.

Georgia is ranked third in the BCS standings, released Sunday. In all likelihood it will play No. 2 Alabama in the SEC championship Dec. 1, so a win in Atlanta, after a win over Georgia Tech on Saturday, would mean a trip to Miami for the title game.

It’s now a very real possibility. Just don’t ask Georgia’s head coach about it.

Mark Richt spent most of his Sunday media teleconference ducking questions about the national title picture, instead turning it back to Georgia Tech every time he could. It got comical enough that reporters laughed.

“Anybody want to talk about Georgia Tech?” Richt asked at one point.

Richt wouldn’t even acknowledge that he watched Saturday night’s games, when both Kansas State (then No. 1 in the BCS) and Oregon (then No. 2) were upset.

“You know what I was thinking about Tech that night, all night and what a big game that is,” Richt said. “So that’s really what I’ve been working on.”

For the record, Richt did send out a tweet himself just after the results came in, but it was to exhort fans to show up at Sanford Stadium for the Georgia Tech game.

Richt also had to fill out and file his top 25 ballot for the USA Today coaches’ poll, which comprises one-third of the BCS formula. Georgia received one first-place vote in that poll, but Richt said it didn’t come from him.

So what did he think of someone ranking his team that high?

“Oh I don’t know, I guess somebody thought we were No. 1, so I guess that’s good,” Richt said. “But it’s just right this minute not all that important, really.”

Georgia (10-1) opened as a 14-point favorite over Georgia Tech (6-5), and the Bulldogs have defeated their in-state rival 10 of the past 11 years. But with so much at stake -- whether he wanted to admit it or not -- Richt isn’t risking any talk beyond Saturday.

“That’s the whole key to football, is being able to focus on what really matters, and that’s this game,” Richt said. “I think our players understand how important this game is, regardless of what’s going on outside of this game,” Richt said. “So I think we’ll all be able to focus on the right thing. We need to, that’s for sure.”

Richt on Dooley

Richt was hired at Georgia 12 years ago by then-athletics director Vince Dooley, whose son Derek was fired Sunday after three years as Tennessee’s head coach.

“We all know it’s a very tough business. It’s a tough league,” said Richt, who was unbeaten in three years against Dooley’s Volunteers. “And there’s a lot of outstanding coaches that have that happen to them from time to time.”

Richt then cited Tony Dungy, who was fired as the head coach of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001, then ended up winning a Super Bowl with Indianapolis.

“It’s part of the business,” Richt said. “I’m sorry for Derek and his family, and Coach Dooley, and Mrs. Dooley, just everybody in the family who’s dealing with it. He’s a highly intelligent person, and he’s a tremendous coach, and I know he’s gonna land on his feet and have something great happen to him in the future. He’s a young guy, and he’s a got a great future.”

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