Alabama ends Georgia’s fantasy in a thriller

Mark Richt can’t win the big game. Neither can Aaron Murray.

Earlier this week the normally cool-headed coach shrugged at a question about his Bulldogs’ record against ranked teams. South Carolina had spanked them 35-7 earlier in the year, and against the only other ranked team his Bulldogs had played (Florida) they had bested their opponent in a turnover, penalty riddled game.

Doing his best Steve Spurrier impersonation: “We’ve already played the No. 2 team in the country once this year and had a good day against Florida.”

Richt doesn’t like the question, but the reality is, it’s the reality: Mark Richt cannot win the big game.

Call it luck, of the bad variety. Or call it misfortune. Heck, do whatever you like to make yourself feel better in trying to prop up the nice-guy coach everyone hates to speak ill of.

But the bottom line is the bottom line. Any notion of a Bulldogs’ run at relevance will have to take place with someone else wearing the headset in Athens.

After the game, Richt showed some fire when he came under fire from the media yet again. A media member posed the question about his and Aaron Murray’s record in the “big game.” Here was that exchange:

Across the state line, you have a coach in Alabama’s Nick Saban who is known for being all business. Forget the nice guy accolades. Nick Saban is a winner who doesn’t have to answer as to why his teams don’t have discipline. Or why they get riddled with penalities. Or why he constantly has players getting arrested. Or why he loses the big game over, and over, and over…

No, Nick Saban won’t ever be labeled “a nice guy,” though one’s definition of such is often slanted one way or another with the colors they choose to pull for on Saturdays. His Nick’s Kids Foundation has helped far more than some who enjoy the positive public perception afforded at some’s convenience.

The un-nice Saban just wins. And has an incredibly high graduation rate for his players. And puts tons of players in the NFL. Many of those in the first round. Saban’s approach doesn’t require that security guards check his players for curfew…funny, his system instills personal responsibility and consequences that teach young men to make good decisions.

Oh yeah, and Saban’s un-nice guy system brings home the hardware. Lots of it.

Saturday night Georgia played out of its shoes, and had the game lasted 60 minutes and 15 seconds the Tide may have a different destination this bowl season.

But instead, playing within regulation, Bama did what a champion does, and the Georgia fantasy died a grisly death on the Georgia Dome turf at the five yard line. As the final seconds ticked away, so did another Georgia stab at relevance.

And across the field, in Crimson, another quest for a BCS National Championship wasn’t just a fantasy. It is now a reality.

(Follow ITK on Twitter for Bama news, commentary and smack.)