Sunday, May 8, 2011
DAWGS NEED TO FIND SOME NASTY ON THE ROSTER
Whether any of you have noticed or not, things have not been just rolling off the presses here at the BEAST this spring. There are a myriad of reasons for that (and all of them are justified), but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been paying attention.
There are several reasons that I believe the 2011 football season will be a bright one for the DAWGS, but we can save those for a later date. First things first.
One reality of my time away is that I have been forced to watch and listen as Auburn and its fans have reveled in their MNC glory. And they should. The Tigers earned it on the field with outstanding performances from many, not the least of which those turned in by Nick Fairley.
Fairley was quite possibly the most disruptive single player the Southeastern Conference has seen since David Pollack was unleashed “between the hedges” back in 2002. And that is where the rubber hits the road in this discussion.
Georgia fans probably won’t like any comparison between Fairley and Pollack regardless of the argument, but they should be a little more willing to listen. Both were All-Americans and both changed the game for their opponents every time they stepped on the field. The glaring difference here, especially when viewed through DAWG-red colored glasses, is the association of Fairley with a “less than fair” style of play and the “poster boy” image that has followed Pollack both during and since his time in Athens. Some would go so far as to call the Auburn defensive lineman a dirty player, while most any recollected memory of Pollack sparkles like a shiny penny in the Sanford sun on a brilliant DAWG day afternoon. But those perceptions have absolutely no impact on what made each player a dominant force in the SEC and in college football.
I would argue that along with being very good football players and all of the other attributes that made each player a championship-caliber difference maker on their respective teams, there was one underlying factor that set each player apart from the rest. Nasty. A nasty that falls in the blind spot of adoring fans, draws the ire of the opposition colors and wins games in the fourth quarter. A nasty that defeats an opponent before they step on the field. A nasty that demands a “chew your kneecaps off’ performance from the player and his teammates at the biggest moments in the biggest games. THIS….this is what Fairley and Pollack share.
Now, I’m not saying Fairley has not earned his reputation (at least in the eyes of Georgia fans) on the field. I offer you exhibit A:
The video speaks for itself. However, in the months since the season has ended, while scouring game film and breaking down season stats in my top secret CFB bunker that is dimly lit only by the flickering light of the projector, I have been forced to admit a sobering fact to myself…I want that player on my team. NOT that player that crosses the line and intentionally attempts to injure an opponent, BUT that player that slams right up against that line and then dances back from it wreaking havoc all along the way. Admittedly, this is a dangerous zone in which to live. As for Fairley’s play against Georgia last season, I will just say that if the DAWGS didn’t like the way he was treating our players and namely our franchise quarterback, they should have…wait for it…BLOCKED him. And yes, I feel the Georgia players were absolutely justified when they finally stood up for their teammate late in the game, but I would much rather they had handled business between the whistles. I expect this piece will bring responses from all across the DAWG Nation and they are welcomed.
There have been others that have played with this type of nasty for Coach Richt….Thomas Davis, Kevin Breedlove, Daniel Inman, Sean Jones and Max Jean-Gilles to name a few. What is it that all of these players had in common? They were champions and they would just as soon whip your ass as look at you between the lines.
If Georgia is going to get back to the pinnacle of the SEC under Coach Richt, then the lead DAWG and his staff are going to have to cultivate a few more of these balls-to-the-wall type players that will push the program over the top when the going gets tough in the crucible that is college football in the Southeastern Conference.