Okay, so the outcome of Saturday's game was disappointing. The game itself, however, was far from disappointing -- the game was freaking awesome. The game was two perfectly matched teams playing their asses off, and if there had been 30 more seconds in the game, the outcome could have been completely different.
That can be the hardest way to lose a game. The Bulldogs didn't lose because the refs were idiots. They didn't lose because Bama played dirty. They didn't lose because Bama played better than they did -- as much as some people are saying that Georgia was weak or inconsistent, or that Mark Richt and Aaron Murray can't finish a big game, the fact is that the Dawgs held their own, actually led for more than half the game, and ultimately played to within four points of the #2 team in the country. And they didn't lose -- and don't anyone dare say it in my presence -- because Chris Conley caught a ball that he'd have been better off batting down. The man saw a ball flying his way and went with his first instinct, which was to catch it so no one else would. And had that one foot not slipped out from under him, that one error might well have turned into a touchdown.
Georgia lost the game because games have to end eventually, and when they end one team has to have more points than the other. It leaves a fan without anything to rail about, anything to whine about, or anyone to rail at, and that can be kind of disappointing. We like to have reasons for unpleasant things, and this one doesn't have a reason. But reason or no, one fact is indisputable: The Bulldogs played their asses off.
To repeat: The Bulldogs played their asses off. They worked the entire time. They wanted it the entire time. They performed the entire time, and they damned near won. Mark Richt coached the hell out of that game, with just enough shades of Dark Richt to keep things interesting and enough of the Coach Richt we know and love to keep the team on track. As individuals and as a team, they played really good football. And no matter how disappointing it is that that team won't be getting a BCS bowl berth -- and don't get me wrong, it's way disappointing -- there's comfort in the knowledge that in the conference championship, they played the hell out of some football, and they have no reason to have regrets.
At the risk of bringing down the tone of this post, I do have to comment on the accounts of Coach Richt "storming out of the press conference." When I read about it, I had this image in my head of him being shouty, aggressive, throwing his drink down in disgust. My head was full of a Hothead Richt I'd never actually seen in the wild. And then I watched video.
Yeah, that's exactly how it looks when Mark Richt storms out of a press conference. Just like his "irate on the sidelines" looks a lot like any other coach's "having a facial expression," his "going off in a press conference" looks a lot like "speaking emphatically" from anyone else. He's a classy dude, answering a kind of stupid question -- if anyone has ever wondered about Richt's and Murray's ability to come through in a big game, this one should have addressed that handily.
Georgia didn't come up short or underperform. It doesn't even feel like they lost. They played damned good football against a damned good team, and at the end of the game they had fewer points. Good job. Damned good Dawgs.