Today we are going to hop into the time machine and take a ride back into the past. Way back into the past. Think peace, love, hippies, flower children (oops–wrong decade), gas rationing, bell bottoms, disco, shag carpet, lime-green polyester suits (Okay, I’d better stop there. I don’t want to cause anybody to have nightmares.)
Yes, my friends, the year was 1977. Fleetwood Mac came out with their blockbuster album Rumours. The Clash came out with their debut album. The space shuttle Enterprise went for a test flight atop a 747 at Edwards Air Force Base. Miami actually got some snow. Pavarotti made his American debut (Wonder if he was wearing a lime-green polyester suit that night? Oh sorry, don’t want to cause anybody to have nightmares). Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad. The Pompidou Arts Center opened in Paris. James Dobson founded Focus on the Family. Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as president. Menachem Begin took over as prime minister of Israel. Led Zeppelin performed their last ever US concert. Elvis died. (Or did he?) The Atari 2600 was released. Gavin DeGraw, Shakira, Kanye West, and Coldplay’s Chris Martin were born.
And Georgia played Kentucky in Athens one fine November afternoon. Prince Charles and James Brown were in attendance, and Kentucky punked Georgia 33-0. To show you how far back that was, Prince Charles was still a bachelor. Princess Di was not even on the scene yet.
That was the last time Georgia had ever lost to Kentucky in Athens. On that day, Georgia fans walked out of the stadium in utter humiliation and disgust, thinking to themselves, “Never again.”
Well, “never again” just happened.
And Prince Charles didn’t even need to bother showing up. Neither did James Brown. All we needed was Willie Martinez and a few other incompetent assistants who have (hopefully) coached their final game in Athens.
Kentucky took the opening kickoff and raced to an easy touchdown. But they botched the extra point and you thought to yourself, “Okay, we can hang with these guys.” Georgia got it going on offense with a field goal, two touchdowns, and another field goal. The defense stiffened up and did not allow another point for the rest of the half. By halftime, the score was 20-6 and Kentucky only had 73 total yards.
Going into the second half, you knew that a 14-point lead was not safe. Teams come back from two touchdowns behind all the time. But no one could have foreseen the complete and utter meltdown that happened in the second half. It all started when Branden Smith fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half at the Georgia 14 yard line. Just two plays later and Kentucky was in for a touchdown. But by 7:03 in the third quarter, Georgia had scored again to push the lead back to 14 points.
And then all hell broke loose. Not only did Kentucky come back to beat Georgia, they managed to make it look so easy peasy that the Geico cavemen could have done it.
It started when Georgia failed to cover the ensuing kickoff, and Kentucky started out at midfield. Five plays later and Kentucky was in for another touchdown. Georgia and Kentucky traded a couple of punts. Then Kentucky got the ball at the Georgia 36 and needed only 5 plays to score the tying touchdown. 60 yards came on one play. On the next series, Joe Cox needed to answer the challenge. He answered with an interception that was returned to the Georgia 8. Three plays later and Kentucky was in the end zone.
Later, Georgia would drive all the way to the Kentucky 1, only to fumble on an errant pitch by Joe Cox. Kentucky recovered. Georgia got it back one more time near midfield. On the very first play of the drive, Cox threw another interception. Game, set, and match, Kentucky.
The meltdown is now officially complete. With this loss, what would otherwise have been a disappointing season has now turned into a complete and utter train wreck. Already Mark Richt has lost the most games of any season during his tenure at Georgia. The fewest wins he has had in any season was eight back in 2001, and in order to keep from missing that mark he will have to pull an absolute miracle in the ATL, and then win the bowl game.
Consider this: From the start of the 2002 season (we’ll give Mark Richt a pass on Year 1), it took Mark Richt 49 games to lose 8. That eighth loss did not come until nine games into the 2005 season. But since (and including) the failed blackout against Alabama back in 2008, Georgia has now lost 8 games. And it has taken Mark Richt only 20 games to get there.
Never again. I wonder how long it will be until “never again” happens again. Given the current state of this program, it probably won’t take another 32 years.