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Post Georgia has no one but themselves – and Oklahoma State – to blame for bowl fate

Wednesday December 2, 2009

So after yesterday’s fun it looks as if Shreveport and the Independence Bowl are the most likely postseason destination for Georgia. There’s enough griping about that, but it’s really not worth getting worked up over. I’ll still eat at Chick-fil-A (mmmmmmmm…Peppermint Chocolate Chip milkshake…..). Of course nothing’s official now until the conference allows bids to go out after the championship game, and it’s amusing to read all of the disclaimers and denials taking place since the announcements started breaking after Auburn and the Outback broke the logjam. “We haven’t extended an invitation to anyone yet. In fact, we’re still researching at this moment exactly which teams are in the SEC and ACC. Of course we’re still VERY interested in – what team are you calling about again?” said Chick-fil-A Bowl spokesman Gary Stokan.

So, at the risk of going against protocol, we’ll still assume it’s Shreveport for the Dawgs. And that’s life. As Texas Dawg noted in the comments yesterday, it could mean an interesting opponent from the Big 12. With teams like Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas A&M in play a decent matchup does seem to be a possibility. I’m about over playing the Big 10 at this point. And at the very least, Georgia will be an answer to a trivia question as the bowl will sever its tie with the SEC after this season.

Still, Shreveport remains a bit of a punchline among SEC fans, and people seem in agreement on what this destination offers as a lesson for Georgia: take care of business next time against Kentucky. Actually, that’s not the lesson. Auburn lost 5 of its last six games against FBS competition including a home game with Kentucky but still finds itself headed for a New Year’s Day bowl. That’s the thing about a glut of 7-5 teams: we can beat ourselves up for losing to Kentucky, but any of our peers can be singled out for their blunders and missed opportunities too. The lesson is something Mark Richt has said many times in the past. When you don’t take care of the things you can control, you leave your fate to the whims of others. It’s not about what one team or another deserves or has earned. The same whims can set you up on New Year’s Day in Florida or banish you to Shreveport, and either fate can be justified.

There’s another lesson, though. Would Georgia, at 8-4, be a more attractive to a bowl than a herd of 7-5 teams? Well, yes, that’s the point of the “just beat Kentucky next time” lesson. But Georgia is also the only one of the SEC’s six 7-5 teams to face three BCS conference opponents in their nonconference schedule, two of which were ranked. Where did that get us?

Tennessee and Georgia both finished the season with identical overall and conference records (7-5 and 4-4). The other four SEC teams with 7-5 records all were 3-5 in the league and got to seven wins with perfect nonconference records. Of those teams, only South Carolina played more than one nonconference opponent from a BCS conference. Would Tennessee or Georgia be more attractive bowl teams had they swapped UCLA or Oklahoma State for a generic mid-major to get to 8-4? It didn’t hurt Ole Miss, did it?

There’s another way to look at it of course. These trips to Tempe, Boulder, and – I suppose – Stillwater can be their own bowl trips within a season. Anyone who made the trip to Tempe can tell you that the scene felt just like a bowl (and a major bowl at that). The upside in a situation like 2008 is that you get a nice midseason bowl-like trip and get the win that builds your resume for a better postseason bowl bid. We saw the downside this year when a nonconference road loss to a quality opponent probably contributed (along with the whole losing 4 conference games thing) to missing out on a more attractive bowl game.

Damon Evans’ consistent message in his approach to scheduling is to “build the brand”. That brand took enough damage this year thanks to the results on the field, but the aggressive scheduling won’t be doing the brand any favors this bowl season.

One Response to 'Georgia has no one but themselves – and Oklahoma State – to blame for bowl fate'

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  • Ubiquitous GA Alum

    December 2nd, 2009
    4:02 pm


    My Big 12 buddy tells me that the Texas Bowl wants A&M and the Weed Whacker wants IA State.

    Said it earlier and will say it again … bet we sell more G-Day tickets than Weed Whacker ones.