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Providing a dose of reality for our Georgia Bulldog fans
I try to keep my comments – at least in print – to a minimum when it comes to college football predictions. Sticking with a “ball” theme, rubbing a crystal ball or shaking a Magic 8 ball is just about as effective as pulling a name out of a hat blindfolded.
The reality is prediction columns of which team will finish where at the conclusion of the season are written only to get people hot and bothered in an effort to sell newspapers. I hope I’m spoiling it for all the metro dailies around the country on this one, but the reality is what it is.
In total honesty, reporters don’t know what’s going to happen in a season any more than those who correctly picked Southern Cal to win the BCS title on Jan. 4, 2006. Oh, wait Texas won it that year. Well, what about the New York Yankees winning the World Series in 2001. Oops, it was the Arizona Diamondbacks that year. How those New England Patriots Feb. 4, 2008? Nope, wrong again. It was the New York Giants. And let’s not forget the 2011 NBA championship rings Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh have with the Miami Heat. Ah fiddlesticks, that was the Dallas Mavericks.
Need more proof? Probably not, but since you are still hanging with me on this – In 1987, Sports Illustrated’s baseball preview edition proclaimed the Cleveland Indians as the best team in the American League. For those who may have forgotten or weren’t even born yet, the Indians were the worst team in the Majors. Yes, even worse back then than the abysmal Atlanta Braves.
That’s what made the 1989 movie “Major League” with more mentally stable Charlie Sheen more of a comedy.
For the record, the Indians finished its 1987 season a woeful 61-101, which put them 37 games out of first place in the Western Division. As for the Braves that season, they were 69-92 to be 20.5 games out of first.
Things did get better for both clubs as they met eight years later in 1995 for the World Series. But that’s quite a bit of literary foreshadowing for Sports Illustrated.
So what has turbo-boosted this rant of mine? Over the last few months, I have followed along with the status updates of our state’s beloved Georgia Bulldogs football team. Since the end of UGA’s 6-7 season, I have watched, read and listened to player after player leaving the program. I have reviewed the Dawgs’ lack of experience and depth on its offensive line. I have pondered the yet-to-be-seen-on-the-field potential of a collection of receivers for legitimate stud Aaron Murray to zing the ball. I have perused article after article anointing Isaiah Crowell as good as – if not better than – running back icon Herschel Walker. And I have consumed plenty of words written about the UGA defense that – on paper – looks to be top-notch.
Package all that information together and the pundits have Georgia ranked in the preseason by the coaches at No. 22 and by the Associated Press at No. 19. I have even seen acclaimed sports writer tap the Dawgs for No. 11 – not in the preseason, but rather how that reporter sees the Red and Black concluding the season.
Projected record for the men from Athens? As low as 8-4 and as high as 10-2.
Personally, I just do not believe it. Look, I appreciate people casting their eyes toward the skies to be fully enamored by a glorious rainbow of college football wins, but this isn’t a box of Lucky Charms.
For Georgia to rack up that many victories this season without all-world wide receiver A.J. Green, now an NFL rookie, and an unproven freshman starting at running back, is being way too optimistic. Could it happen? Sure it could. If the ball bounces the right way, if an opposing player misses a tackle, if injuries occur for the opponents more than the Dawgs, yes, it could happen.
But honestly for Georgia to be that good record-wise this season would have to mean that the rest of the Southeastern Conference is down, really down. That would be the same SEC that has produced the last five national BCS champions.
So in a conference where teams don’t rebuild, but instead just reload, Georgia, who went 3-5 against SEC foes, is going to do an about-face with fewer weapons and surge toward the lead of the pack? Sorry, Dawg Nation that’s incredibly wishful thinking.
Allow me to explain optimism based on evidence. Last season Georgia Southern ended its season in the national semifinals. This season the Eagles return 20 starters. Having optimism for the guys from Statesboro is understandable. Having optimism for the guys from Athens just lacks documented basis.
With the others going uber-positive, I have make a prediction to shed a little reality on the subject. I’ll be nice and say UGA finishes 7-6.
Enoch Autry is the publisher-editor of the Sylvania Telephone.