College Football: How Many National Titles Do the Georgia Bulldogs Deserve?
The AP. The UPI. The Bowl Alliance. The BCS.
What do they all have in common?
None utilize a playoff. Therefore, since the beginning of polling, many a team has been robbed of the opportunity to fairly win national championships.
What is a fan to do?
Well, one might have a little fun and start a project. Using the College Football Data Warehouse and past polling systems (see below for details), I have sifted through the declared end-of-season No. 1 teams and decided which teams I feel have earned the accolade.
Bo Schembechler of Michigan, among others, believed that a true national champion could never be crowned in football (via the New York Times). In some cases, due to the large avoidance of first- and second-ranked teams meeting in postseason games, I will sometimes crown more than one national champion per season.
Of course, this article is meant to get your voice heard, so feel free to comment. Since fans deserve to know why their schools have been awarded certain titles, I present my methodology for each team's case.
This series will encompass eventually all the BCS teams. This summer, in honor of the impending Alabama-Michigan matchup, we will cover only SEC and Big Ten teams. Georgia, like the Alabama schools, has had its share of success. But outside of the 1980 national championship team and Herschel Walker, nobody has seen the Bulldogs win it all; since then SEC football has been primarily owned by Alabama and Florida.
But that doesn't mean the Bulldogs haven't won big before.
The explicit purpose of this game is to show how the polls and bowls prevent a necessary college football playoff. By examining how confusing it has been to determine a champion, we can observe which way not to choose the best team.
Polls considered include: Alderson System, Anderson & Hester, AP, Berryman (QRPS), BCS, Billingsley Report, Boand System, Caspar Whitney, Colley Matrix, Congrove Computer Rankings, DeVold System, Dickinson System, Dunkel System, Eck Ratings System, Houlgate System, Litkenhous, Massey College Football Ratings, Matthews Grid Ratings, NY Times, Poling System, Rothman, Sagarin Ratings, Williamson System, and Wolfe Systems.
1896 Georgia Bulldogs
Football was just starting in the South. The University of Georgia, looking to field a successful football program, needed a consistent head coach. The seniors on UGA's squad had three head coaches over the past three autumns.
So the Bulldogs decided to hire some guy named Pop Warner. It was his first head coaching job, and the results reflected those of a novice. Warner went 3-4, and it didn't help matters that he was a "co-coach" for Iowa State at the same time.
Despite this, good fortune shined on the Bulldogs. The team was the inaugural Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association champions, going 2-0 in conference play. The Bulldogs went 4-0 in a season that featured one of the school's first wins over Auburn.
Coach Warner left the program after the season to coach at Cornell and continued to become a legendary coach. Warner would accumulate his treasure trove of trophies, including three national championships at Pitt and one at Stanford. He concluded his career with an incredible 319 wins, leaving a trend of excellence for the Bulldogs.
1942 Georgia Bulldogs
It all came together for Georgia and coach Wally Butts in 1942.
Not only did the Bulldogs finish with an exceptional 11-1 record (their only loss being to Auburn), but the Bulldogs won a share of the national championship. Quarterback Frank Sinkwich won the Heisman Trophy, bringing the Bulldogs their first Heisman in program history.
External factors played a factor for Georgia's championship win, perhaps more so than in any other championship in history. Ohio State, which finished 9-1, would have likely finished the '42 season undefeated. But fate intervened, and many of Ohio State's players got sick over contaminated water. Matters got worse, as they drank the water on a train headed to Madison. The No. 1 Buckeyes, hampered by intestinal disorders, fell to the Wisconsin Badgers 17-7. After recovering from the misfortune, Paul Brown's Buckeyes finished the year (according to the AP) 1st in the nation.
Boston College, which was 8-0 on Thanksgiving Saturday, also needed just one win to have a regular perfect season. But lowly Holy Cross exterminated the Eagles defense, trouncing BC 55-12. In what could call ironic divine intervention, BC didn't celebrate at Boston's Cocoanut Grove. That night, the restaurant burned down. Though the Eagles had lost a national champion, the players had escaped with their lives.
The case can be made that Georgia, having won more games, should have been champion. Given the way they shut down opponents (ex. Georgia 75, Florida 0), and won the Rose Bowl over UCLA. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 by Litkenhous and other polls.
Nevertheless, 1942 was a magical season. Recovering from their one setback, having other teams fall, sporting a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and being an overall excellent team made the 1942 Bulldogs national champions.
1946 Georgia Bulldogs
The first year of the post-war era brought football back to national attention.
Georgia came back to the forefront, winning its second national championship in five years. The team featured one of the greatest running backs in school history (pre-Walker), Charley Trippi.
Butts' crew won 11 games and didn't tie or lose a single competition. In honor of the football team with the most wins without a defeat in school history, here's the 1946 Georgia Bulldogs schedule.
|@ Temple||W 35-7|
|Oklahoma St.||W 33-13|
|@ Furman||W 70-7|
|vs. Florida||W 33-14|
|vs. Auburn||W 41-0|
|@ Tenn-Chattanooga||W 48-27|
|Georgia Tech||W 35-7|
|vs. UNC (Sugar Bowl)||W 20-10|
1980 Georgia Bulldogs
Guided by the talents of star running back Herschel Walker.
Following victories over ranked teams South Carolina and UF, Dooley won his fourth SEC championship, and UGA won its 10th total.
The talented Walker and company commanded respect, as they shut down Notre Dame 17-10.
After Dooley's departure, Georgia hasn't won another national championship. Fortunately, the Bulldogs have remained a force to be reckoned with under coach Mark Richt. The Bulldogs have won three SEC championships under Richt and are dark horse contenders for the 2012 title.
Coming soon...how the Bulldogs' nemeses stack up to Georgia's tradition. How many titles have come out of The Swamp?