As I sat on my couch Saturday afternoon, the first following the end of the Georgia football season, I took a moment to think back on a year deemed by many as a failure.
Despite coming into championship Saturday as the No. 4 team in the country, the Bulldogs laid a colossal egg against No. 1 LSU in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, ruining any hope the team had of returning to the College Football Playoffs.
The same disappointing offense that led to a shocking defeat to South Carolina earlier in the year and a couple of head scratching near losses (I’m looking at you Kentucky game) once again reared its ugly head, but this time the elite Georgia defense wasn’t enough to make up for it.
Top prospects like Andrew Thomas and D’Andre Swift will likely take their talents to the NFL without a second chance at playing for a national title, and even if three-year starter Jake Fromm does decide to return, late-season regression has many wondering if he’s still the same quarterback that led the Bulldogs to the championship game as a true freshman.
Yet even considering all the negative, while I sat and reflected on a year that came and went all too quickly, I arrived at a surprising conclusion: it was a good year for Georgia football.
When the NCAA chose to move to the playoff system, regulating the bowl game season to even more significant obsolescence than ever before, fans and players at Power 5 schools not participating in one of the two championship semifinal games started to lose interest in the college football postseason — the top tier of athletes often foregoing these “meaningless” games to avoid injury.
If you’re a Georgia football fan, do not fall into this trap.
Yes, the expectations of a championship will follow this team every year, as they should.
But only one school can win it all, and the rest should not have to be subjected to winter time sadness just because they came up a little bit short.
Here are a couple positives from this season:
The Bulldogs won every rivalry game, sweeping Florida, Tennessee, Auburn and Georgia Tech for the second consecutive year.
Despite falling to the Gamecocks early in the year, Georgia still won the SEC East for the third season in a row.
Although they won’t be going to the playoff, the Bulldogs will be representing the SEC in the Sugar Bowl — the best possible bowl game an SEC team not playing in a semifinal could possibly make.
All things considered, an 11-2 regular season finish should go down as a wholly successful year for the Bulldogs — one that all Georgia fans should be happy about right to the very end.
So get your red and black gear back out of the closet and go out in full force when Georgia takes on Baylor on New Year’s day.
Whether from your home or in New Orleans, support the Bulldogs while they’re still playing.
Save the despair for the offseason.
Nathan Berg is sports writer for The Times. He can be reached at email@example.com or @NathanxBerg on Twitter