I last saw our old friend Chip Towers in the press box at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. It was early September and Georgia’s football team had just finished demolishing the Oregon Ducks 49-3 in the season opener.
I filed my game column and bumped into the long-time Bulldogs beat reporter near the elevators. Towers has covered Georgia’s football team for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for decades.
“They do that to a lot of teams,” he said.
Include TCU as the latest victim. Coach Kirby Smart and Georgia throttled the Horned Frogs 65-7 on Monday night and danced off with the College Football Playoff trophy. It was a dominant performance by a team that outclassed everyone, going back-to-back as champions, despite losing 15 players to the NFL Draft after last season.
The Bulldogs (15-0) laid a historic beatdown on the Horned Frogs, setting a pile of records. Largest margin of victory ever in a title game. Most consecutive unanswered points (55). Biggest blowout in any FBS bowl game ever.
Towers had a 1:45 a.m. EST deadline for his game story.
He told me on Tuesday morning: “I beat it by a good bit ‘cuz outcome was so lopsided.”
Towers attended the University of Georgia. But so did a bunch of journalists who live and work in that region. He was hired by The Athens Banner-Herald right out of college. Then, took a job at the Journal-Constitution, where he’s been for the last 25 years. The guy is a workhorse. But he’s going to stay in Los Angeles for an extra day to catch his breath. Then, take a week off back in Georgia before jumping over to the men’s basketball beat. Before he closed the books on the football season, though, I had one last question.
How good will Georgia be next season?
His answer: “No. 1.”
“That’s the media lounge discussion around here,” he said from LA.
A third consecutive national title isn’t unthinkable given Georgia’s momentum, $3.7 million-a-year recruiting budget and stockpile of returning players. Also, the Bulldogs’ non-conference schedule is soft. It features home games vs. University of Tennessee-Martin, Ball State and the University of Alabama-Birmingham. And they go on the road to Georgia Tech.
Georgia plays at Tennessee in November, but skips both Alabama and LSU in the regular season. Don’t bet against another 12-0 regular season for the Bulldogs and the program’s sixth appearance in the last seven SEC title games.
Be sure, we’re about to hear a few days of whining and bellyaching about all of this. It started on social media during Monday night’s title game — with some declaring that Georgia was so much better than everyone else that an expansion to a 12-team playoff wouldn’t have made a lick of difference.
Maybe. But we need college football’s champion to be decided on the field, not with a debate from your sofa. The current four-team invitational tournament is better than the BCS-era, but it still falls woefully short.
Did everyone forget that No. 4-seed Ohio State nearly ended the Bulldogs magical season in the CFP semifinal? The Buckeyes blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost 42-41 in a thrilling finish on New Year’s Eve. Georgia’s players needed prayers and a last-second field goal miss by Ohio State to advance.
Apparently, that escape woke them up.
The Bulldogs were outstanding on Monday against TCU. Quarterback Stetson Bennett accounted for six touchdowns himself. Georgia piled up 589 yards of offense and scored nine touchdowns. The game turned into a snooze. ESPN must have hated it. The Oregon Ducks, deep down, probably liked it. Nobody ever forgets getting beat in the season opener by 46 points, but at least UO moved the ball, gaining 313 yards and posting 21 first downs.
TCU managed nine first downs and a meager 188 yards of offense.
It was so lopsided I’ll bet you flipped the game off and organized your sock drawer. Like Chip Towers said, Georgia does that to a lot of teams.
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I didn't organize my sock drawer, but I left the game on and made ginger cookies.
Georgia will always have an advantage because it is the 4th best state for football talent [behind TX, FL & CA]. Look at their current roster: the majority of their kids are GA kids.
But expanding the CFP will help to keep some of the fleeing blue chip west coast players home. Brock Bowers, DJU & Bryce Young are all CA kids who chased the playoff with blue bloods. Ohio State pulled Embuka, Tuimalou, & G. Scott out of WA. That sucking sound you have heard for the last 10+ years is the whoosh of blue chip west coast talent rushing out of our footprint.
If blue chip kids think Oregon, Washington or Utah can make it to the CFP, they might stay & play in conference [especially if NIL is used right]. This will marginally weaken the blue Bloods & strengthen the next tier teams.
Also, 9-game conference schedules are tactically stupid. They give half of the conference up to an extra loss that could have been a win against an OOC team. This drops them in the polls & weakens every other conference team's strength of schedule PLUS it adds a more difficult, physical game beating to each conference team's players [vs playing a "cupcake"].
There are practical & functional reasons why the SEC is better positioned in the polls and for the post-season. And it's much more than football "just means more". Mike Slive and Greg Sankey made chess moves while Larry Scott struggled with checkers. Hopefully George Kliavkoff has the capability to recover, but Scott left him a bad board.