News flash: The Clemson Tigers just won the College Football Playoff in what was an all-time classic game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. But the real question is: What impact will this have on the future of Georgia football?
There are some good and bad consequences that can come from our neighbors to the northeast getting their first national title since 1981, but first let’s start with the bad.
The Bad News
Geographically, Georgia has a tough time holding off powerhouse football programs from the surrounding states that come into the Peach state to pluck talented recruits. Look no further than the National Championship Game MVP and Heisman Trophy runner-up Deshaun Watson.
With schools in the surrounding states such as: Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Florida, Florida State, and now Clemson, there are now seven schools within a five-hour radius of Athens, Ga. that have won a national title since the BCS era started in 1998. Even Georgia Tech’s split-national title in 1990 was more recent than the Dawgs’ last championship.
Georgia is one of the top programs in college football, but on a national scale they are not on the same level as the true blue bloods of college football.
By winning a national championship on Monday night, Clemson, in most people’s minds, and more importantly high school prospects’ minds, is now in that group.
And with Trevor Lawrence, the number one signal-caller in the country for the class of 2018, already committed to the Tigers, as well as plenty of other talented recruits, Clemson might just be able to keep this train rolling and become one of the shortlist powerhouse programs for years to come.
The Good News
I’m not ready to ring the bell that the Alabama dynasty is over. I have more sense than that. Some so-called experts were foolish enough to proclaim the end of their reign after the Crimson Tide lost to Ole Miss in 2015. All they did after that loss was win their next 26 games in a row, including the 2015 national championship.
Let’s face it: As SEC fans since Nick Saban showed up in 2007, it’s been Alabama’s world and the rest of us are just living in it. In 10 years since Saban arrived, Bama has won five SEC titles and four national titles.
And while that resume is impressive, by Alabama’s ridiculous standards, recent years have been a little disappointing in Tuscaloosa. 2016 now marks the third time in the last four years that Alabama has failed to win it all.
Maybe Clemson and Ohio State have provided the blueprint for what it takes to beat the Tide.
The first step is to put together one elite recruiting class after another. Clemson and Ohio State have both done that. Kirby Smart has been on the job for about 365 days and he’s got a heck of a head start in that regard.
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The next step, as I’m sure Dawg fans have already figured out, get a dual-threat quarterback for crying out loud. Since the start of the 2009 season, the Crimson Tide have lost 11 times. To put that in perspective, Georgia is 72-32 during that span, which averages out to 9-4 over the last eight seasons.
Here’s a list of the quarterbacks to beat Bama since the start of the 2010 season: Stephen Garcia, Cam Newton, Jordan Jefferson (twice), Johnny Manziel, Nick Marshall, Trevor Knight, Bo Wallace, Cardale Jones, Chad Kelly, and now Deshaun Watson.
What is the common denominator for those 11 losses? A dual-threat quarterback.
It won’t be easy to for anyone in the SEC to dethrone the Tide, but there are examples to learn from. And maybe, hopefully, Kirby Smart is the one to do it.