ATHENS -- There’s nothing like an old, familiar feeling. Right, Georgia fans?
This is not the first time they’ve woken up on a Sunday morning feeling sick to their stomach, wondering what exactly happened the day before.
It now happens at least once a season. It happened last year after Georgia lost to Florida and Georgia Tech. It happened the season before against Missouri, Vanderbilt and Auburn. And it happened in 2012 when Georgia was humiliated in Columbia by South Carolina.
How did those fans feel Saturday around 6 p.m., when they were leaving Sanford Stadium early, unable to watch another embarrassing Georgia loss to Alabama in a regular season game? They weren’t leaving because of the rain. There was something else messier on the field they wanted to avoid watching.
It was déjà vu all over again for the Bulldogs, as they were blown out Saturday against a better football team, a better program and a much better head coach. Just like 2008, there was a lot of hype for this game. And just like 2008, Georgia choked against Alabama.
Well, there’s nothing like being talked about on national television all week about how this was a signature game, about how this could define your program, to get it over the hump and even how this could be the most important game in Mark Richt’s coaching tenure.
And then for that to happen? To watch that disaster? Georgia just didn’t lose; it was humiliated. The Bulldogs just didn’t get outscored; they didn’t show up.
I drank the Kool-Aid. I thought Georgia was ready to beat the mighty Crimson Tide and their great head coach, Nick Saban. I thought Georgia had the talent and was ready for the big win that for some reason has eluded them for so long.
Man, was I wrong. I apologize.
Don’t back Saban into a corner. He’ll strike like a rattlesnake. Saban wasn’t about to let his team lose a second straight SEC game. Georgia is not snake-bitten, just mediocre. They’re a mediocre program in a bad division. The SEC East is a dumpster fire, and while Georgia might emerge as the best team at the end of the season, it likely won’t prove a thing.
Please save the spiel about Richt’s 10-win seasons. Save the speech about how the recruiting is now better and how Georgia is about to turn the corner. This is year 15 for this head coach. Aren’t we just setting ourselves up for the same result in a few years the next time there’s another big game for the Bulldogs?
Georgia was 4-0, but the Bulldogs hadn’t played anybody. But hey, that’s what Richt’s teams do. They beat up on unranked opponents. In Richt’s career, they’ve got a 102-14 record against teams that were unranked at the time of the game. That’s a .879 winning percentage. That’s great.
But against ranked opponents, specifically since 2008 -- the season of the last debacle at home against Alabama -- Georgia is 14-22. That’s a .389 winning percentage. Richt’s teams were 24-13 (.649) against ranked opponents in his first seven seasons as head coach, so there’s been a huge drop off.
They may not play another ranked opponent all season, which gives them a great shot at getting what many accept as a good season -- 10 wins.
But it’s not a good season when you have losses like this one. It proves you can’t compete with the big boys, and Alabama is the biggest boy on the block. It is the standard bearer, the program every other team in the South tries to emulate. And Georgia couldn’t even beat the Crimson Tide when the Bulldogs maybe should have.
And don’t fool yourself. Georgia has the talent on this roster. The Bulldogs’ recruiting has been just as good as Alabama’s recruiting the past few years. There’s no reason Saturday’s game should have had a 28-point gap. There is no excuse.
This program and this head coach tease this fan base time and again. They get so excited for these type games and then walk away feeling like someone kicked their dog. Maybe Georgia fans are just so used to it that it doesn’t hurt anymore. Maybe that’s why some accept it so easily.
Look, if Georgia had lost a tough game by three points or even by a touchdown and played well, played hard, this wouldn’t be as huge of a story. But the Bulldogs were embarrassed. Heck, Louisiana-Monroe played Alabama tougher.
Georgia likely will win the East and will finish with another solid record. Richt will call it a good year. Unfortunately, that’s the Georgia way. But when he does, just remember what happened Saturday in Athens.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill at www.twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.