Georgia football: 40th anniversary of last national championship a dubious landmark

Georgia alum Herschel Walker (Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images).
Georgia alum Herschel Walker (Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images). /

Georgia football fans are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1980 national championship team, but they’d probably rather not.

For Georgia football fans, 1980 is both a fond memory and a thorn in the side. The visions and tales of Herschel Walker, Buck Belue, Lindsay Scott, and the rest of the vaunted 1980 National Championship team can bring a Georgia fan to tears.

Because they were that great, and also because it was that damn long ago.

Belue, the starting quarterback for the 1980 team, is part of the long-running talk radio show Buck and Kincade on Atlanta’s 680 The Fan, and he and partner John Kincade have already helped begin the 40th-anniversary celebration.

If only Georgia fans didn’t have to celebrate such an unpalatable anniversary, at least not as the last time the Bulldogs hoisted a national title banner. Certainly, Buck Belue both glows and groans at the idea of being the last quarterback to lead the Bulldogs to a national championship, a title he’d probably be glad to shed.

Think about it. 1980.

It was an election year, and now-95-year-old former president Jimmy Carter was facing off against Ronald Reagan, who has been deceased since 2004. Reagan would be 109 were he alive today.

The Pacific Northwest was recovering from the May eruption of Mt. Saint Helens in Washington.

The Chrysler Corporation had to be bailed out by the government (I guess the more things change the more they stay the same).

It was the year of the U.S. Olympic Men’s Hockey Team and the “Miracle On Ice”.

The Mariel boatlift, a mass exodus of Cubans to the United States, took place.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was formed.

The Empire Strikes Back, the second installment of the Star Wars movie franchise was released.

Pac-Man made his debut.

And we finally learned “Who Shot J.R?” (Spoiler alert: It was Kristin!)

Put into that perspective, the last Georgia national championship almost feels antique at this point. Yet to a Georgia fan, it’s as fresh as yesterday’s laundry hanging on the line. True Georgia fans still feel the power of Herschel’s steps as he and his dislocated shoulder punished the Notre Dame defense, and revel in hearing the sound of “How ’bout them Dawgs!”

Can the Georgia football program break through in 2020 and bring home the hardware? Of all years to try, this may absolutely be the worst. The coronavirus pandemic has every conference and every school scrambling. Schedules are fluid on a weekly basis depending on positive COVID results, and the whole season could go up in smoke at any moment.

That said, the Bulldogs have as good a shot as anyone. They have a schedule that’s difficult enough to test them and to prepare them for whoever they may meet in the possible College Football Playoff.

It’s a young team. A hungry team. A coach who’s barely old enough to remember the 1980 championship team. None of his players were even alive when it happened. Yet they all still carry the torch for that team, and they want to be the team who is the reason for the next great anniversary…

Celebrating the 2020 Georgia Bulldogs national title.

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