Look, it’s not up for debate. Tonight is going to suck all the way around. One of our biggest rivals will win a national championship. One of our biggest rivals will be able to crow that they’re the best team in the country, despite getting throttled in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Tonight’s (not my) national champion will be nearly unbearable for the next year.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t find the silver lining in either outcome. If you happened to read Peggy Rossmanith’s final Undercover Barner yesterday, you may have learned something about letting hate go. It’s a beautiful thing when you can be happy for your fellow man, and enjoy their happiness.
We all know Georgia and Alabama fans. We all know Georgia and Alabama alums as well. Now, there’s always going to be a fierce debate about the impact of actually attending the school you pull for and it’s relation to football fandom. Whatever your opinion, you can be happy for people who are finding happiness in a football team’s success.
For the Harvey Updykes of the world, this may be all they’ve got, which is incredibly sad. When the inevitable happens, and a gas station attendant makes a remark about the shirt you’re wearing, don’t feel anger at them. Feel pity. They may not have anything else to that they can rag on you about.
Philosophical reasons aside, there are some actual football reasons that you can feel joy in either outcome tonight.
IF GEORGIA WINS
First of all, there’s obvious. If the Bulldogs win, it prevents Alabama from the nth national title that they’ll be able to claim. Whatever your opinion is on how they got to the Playoff (and they certainly didn’t deserve it), and for all the talk on them claiming championships, the ones they’ve gotten since the expansion of the SEC are legit. 1992, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, and tonight would all be as iron-clad as can be. I honestly don’t know what the count’s up to now (I think they say 16), but it prevents them from adding another and puffing out their chests just a little bit more.
Furthermore, it adds to the aura of vulnerability that’s starting to take hold of Nick Saban. He’s still the best coach in the game, and that’s not up for debate, but he’s not as far ahead of the rest of the country as he was five years ago. At this time in 2013, Bama had won three of the last four titles, they were rolling in top-ranked recruits, and we were winless in the SEC. Now, we drilled them, they got lucky and fortunate to make the Playoff, and if they lose tonight, it would yet another big game as of late that someone outcoached the God-King. We’re all waiting for Saban’s decline, and I’m fully on board with anything that gets him closer to retirement.
Plus, won’t it be fun to enjoy Bama losing this game, and then having to bring us the ODK Iron Bowl Trophy next month? I bet there will more bad weather and their SGA President will stay home for safety reasons.
And finally, if Georgia wins, then you can say “Auburn 40, National Champions 17”.
IF ALABAMA WINS
There’s a flip side to Alabama winning #17.
“What’s one more?”
Seriously, the last time Alabama won the title, my Facebook newsfeed wasn’t jubilation, it was relief and satisfaction. There was no cathartic exhale of joy from the Tide fans across the world, it was “Oh, we won another one. Neat!” as if winning titles is some everyday treat.
What makes the fans of a winning team so obnoxious? It’s that they hoot and holler about the team’s success over and over again. Bama fans have gotten so desensitized to winning, that not even a damn national championship gets them as excited as it used to! If they win another one, it’s #meh. Plus, all the establishments in Tuscaloosa will have to spend money to paint over the number 16 everywhere.
And, if Alabama wins, that means Georgia remains the only one out of the “Big Six” in the SEC to be without a title since expansion. Alabama has theirs, Florida’s got three, Tennessee went there in 1998, LSU has two, and Auburn got ours. Georgia, despite everything you hear from them, hasn’t gotten the luxury of scheduling a national championship parade yet. Heck, they hadn’t won a conference title in twelve years before this season! Auburn, Alabama, LSU, and Florida had all won the SEC since then. Georgia’s not the frontrunner that their fans would have you believe. They’ve been playing catch-up to the rest of the big boys in the league for years. It’s all a matter of which do you value more? A little less talking from Alabama, or a lot less talking from Georgia? We’ve already gotten the death-punch of a Tide title, but we haven’t had to rip off the bandage when Athens town burns down after a night of championship debauchery.
Also, Georgia’s already killing it on the recruiting trail. I think at last count I saw they had six five-star players committed for this upcoming class. That’s Nick Saban 2012 territory right there, and it needs to be nipped in the bud. I think they’re already on the way to something sticky with the quarterback situation there, having to figure out a way to juggle Fromm, Eason, and Fields, but we don’t want them to get literally every player they look at.
And if you look at Georgia’s roster, they’re going to get gutted this year by graduation and early entrants to the NFL draft. They’ll lose upward of 30 players from this year’s team, similar to what happened to Auburn after 2010, when we had 35 players gone from a national title contender. The Bulldogs will be without Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, FB Christian Payne, OT Isaiah Wynn, WR Javon Wims, and TE Jeb Blazevich, but defense is really where they’ll get hit. If they’re lucky and have all of their juniors returning, they still lose seven starters on defense. Then if juniors Roquan Smith, Trenton Thompson, Jonathan Ledbetter, and Deandre Baker all get good draft grades (and they will), you could see the entire starting defense gone for Georgia from this season to next. What I’m getting at here is that they may not be at a point yet where they fully reload, and the next couple of years could be a rebuild similar to what we had to do with a senior-laden team after 2010. If they don’t get a title this year, the threat may be over for a couple seasons. And then the natives would really get restless with Kirby if he can’t duplicate this run in 2018. That would be fun to watch.
Oh, and if Alabama wins, then “Auburn 26, National Champions 14”.
Now, where’s that meteor? War Eagle.