December 2, 2012
Championship Game was one for the Ages
I took my kids to the National Championship game in the Georgia Dome Saturday night. It was my first National Championship game since the 1980 Sugar Bowl. The final score disappointed me. The game and the fight of the men in red and black did not. This was grown man football. This was SEC football at its finest and the rest of the world should sit up and pay attention. This was a game built on the foundation of Neyland and Bryant and Jordon and Vaught and Butts and Dooley and all those other people for whom stadiums have been named-or should be. This was a game for the ages and they will be talking about it as long as touchdowns count 6 points.
Alabama-11-1 and defending National Champions. Nick Saban, winner of championships at two different schools and widely recognized as the best football coach in America.
Georgia-11-1 and taking her second shot at the SEC title in two years. Mark Richt, fifteen months removed from the so-called college coach's "hot-seat" and widely recognized as one of the best human beings among college football coaches in America-and a fine coach in his own right.
Alabama was a touchdown favorite, plus a half-point, depending on whom you bet with. Georgia was a team on a mission. They came in with a chip on their shoulder and had something to prove-to the football world and to themselves. The game was an instant classic. Nobody is reading this column for news. You already know the outcome of the game and the details.
You saw Georgia drive down the field several times against the best defense in America. You saw Alabama's amazing offensive line wear down the Bulldog defenders and you saw their tailback tandem gash the Dawgs in the second half as they amassed 350 yards rushing.
You saw Aaron Murray, often scrambling to avoid the rush, complete pass after pass. You saw one of the all-time great fake punt plays keep a drive alive and lead to a Georgia touchdown. You saw Alec Ogletree scoop up the ball after Cornelius Washington blocked a field goal attempt and take it to the house and you heard the top almost come off the Georgia Dome.
You saw Damien Swann bite on play action and get beat in the corner on Alabama's final touchdown. You saw Todd Gurley score a touchdown from ten yards out on pure desire and determination. You saw it all. You saw the same game I did.
You saw Georgia punt to Alabama on 4th and 18 in the waning minutes of the game and you saw the junkyard defense hold Alabama and put the ball back in Aaron Murray's hands with 86 yards to go and a minute and change left on the clock-and you saw him engineer the greatest Georgia drive since David Greene in Knoxville in 2001-and you saw Georgia come just one hobnail boot short of engineering the greatest victory in the school's long history.
And some of you-not many, I would hope-but some of you-are allowing stupidity to cloud your vision, making you unaware that you actually witnessed-in person or on television-one of the greatest football games in the storied history of the greatest conference in the nation.
You spent Saturday night talking about the fact that Georgia didn't win, that Georgia isn't perfect, that Georgia proved themselves to be only the second-best team in college football instead of the best-that we chose to try and take advantage of Alabama's confusion instead of spiking the football with nine seconds left.
Guess what. If we had spiked the ball with nine seconds left we would have gotten to run two plays against a set Alabama defense. If the ball hadn't been tipped or if our guy had, with 20-20 hindsight, miraculously thought to bat the tipped pass to the ground, we would still have gotten to run two plays-against a defense that was on its heels.
I feel sorry for you people, because you missed a hell of a game and have no knowledge, whatsoever, of the reality of athletic completion in its most glorious form.
Glory, glory to old Georgia and thank you to Coach Mark Richt, Coach Mike Bobo, and Aaron Murray, who are the most visible and therefore the most often besieged members of the Georgia team--and to all the other members of the 2012 team. Thanks for the memories and the effort.
I hope I get to see this team play in a bowl game worthy of their achievement. But if I never see another college football game, I am glad I saved the best for last. This was one for the ages.
Look for me wherever you might find me. I'll be the good-looking guy in the red shirt.
Darrell Huckaby is an author, educator and syndicated newspaper columnist. Visit his website at www.darrellhuckaby.net.