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December 5, 2014

So It Hurts

Winning three out of four games is good
and all, except when you're supposed to
be winning more.
It has taken me several days to fully digest the disheartening loss from this past Saturday. Following the overtime setback to Tech, I heard two post-game comments which have remained in mind since the discouraging defeat. The first stated by senior cornerback Damian Swann during the post-game player interviews: 

"We aren't supposed to lose to [Tech], so it hurts."

No, Georgiaa 10.5-point favoritewasn't supposed to lose to Tech. Of course, the Bulldogs weren't supposed to lose to any of their opponents this season, entering all 12 contests thus far as the favorite. Nonetheless, Georgia has lost three gamesall three as a moderate to considerable favorite of more than 6 points.

Suspecting that it surely must be a rarity for a previous Bulldog team to have pulled the same dubious feat of losing 3+ games as a favorite of more than 6 points, I took a look back beginning when reliable point spreads first became readily available about a half-century ago. Starting in 1964, I discovered that only twice over 49 yearsmore than four decades ago in 1970, and Coach Donnan's first season of 1996did Georgia lose a trio of games in a single season as a moderate favorite or greater. However, since then, Coach Richt's last two teams have joined the underachieving couple:

-14.5 over Tulane, lost 17-14
-9.5 over Miss. State, lost 7-6
-7 over Georgia Tech, lost 17-7  

-10.5 over Southern Miss, lost 11-7
-16 over Kentucky, lost 24-17
-13.5 over Ole Miss, lost 31-27

-6.5 over Missouri, lost 41-26
-7 over Vanderbilt, lost 31-27
-9.5 over Nebraska, lost 24-19

-6.5 over South Carolina, lost 38-35
-12.5 over Florida, lost 38-20
-10.5 over Georgia Tech, lost 30-24  

The second post-game remark which resonated with me was from a Coach Richt apologist, who declared, "[Richt] wins three out of four games," and then asked, "What do people expect?"

Yes, the Richt era has achieved nearly three wins out of every four gamesa .738 career winning percentage, which ranks as the highest in UGA history of all head coaches at the helm for more than three seasons. And, that's good and all. However, when many of those losses, although resulting just once every four games, are near-inexplicable, that's not so good, nor acceptable.

What do people expect? I can tell you what I, along with I'm guessing many others in the Bulldog Nation, would not expect. And, for what it's worth, this is in no way an attempt to "pile on" the head coach as I've been accused of in the past, but, as they say, I'm just telling it like it is.

I would not expect Richt's Bulldogs to be one of the most underachieving teams in recent years compared to its success in recruiting, or a program which cannot reach the "next level" when an inferior rival has routinely done so.  Also, when compared to his three predecessors at Georgia, even the Ray Goff regime, I would not expect Richt's teams to have inferior results when it comes to 4th-quarter comebacks, coming off bye weeks, playing at their opponents' stadiums, kickoff and punt coverage, when indicators have pointed to positive results for others, or producing the worst five-season run at Georgia in yearsand all of the above is what has been identified just in the last year.

You can now add to the list dropping three games you were supposed to win somewhat comfortably in each of the last two seasons after the program had rarely done so during the half-century before.

So, as Swann suggested, it indeed hurts, when what is supposed to be happening is not, but rather what wouldn't be expected is unfortunately occurring.

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