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MILLIGAN: Not sure how to take all this UGA success
Stephen Milligan
Stephen Milligan

On Monday night (Jan. 9), I was cheering and barking alongside other Bulldog fans at Amici Restaurant as my beloved University of Georgia won the college football championship for the second year in a row.

At the time, ecstatic with the Dawgs’ utter destruction of the overmatched TCU Horned Frogs, I knew exactly how to handle the situation: with pure, unmitigated triumph, the sort of unalloyed joy and satisfaction that has rarely been associated with the UGA football program.

After all, we won our first championship in 41 years last year, which was a true moment of joyous rapture. To do it again only one year later was completely unexpected and even more rapturous.

Now, though, nearly a week after that hours-long coronation of the Dawgs as the king of college football two years running, I’m not sure how to handle all these feelings.

See, I grew up a Dawgs fan, and I grew up a Dawgs fan in the 1990s, when the program hit a doldrums of mediocrity which would reign for years. We were never awful, but all the titles were going to hated Florida and Tennessee.

It was a bad time for UGA.

Not to mention I came up under the radio tutelege of Larry Munson, the infamous Dawgs announcer who never met a cupcake opponent he couldn’t transform into a unbeatable titan in about two paragraphs.

Pessimism is bred into the bones of many a Bulldogs partisan, and even as we reached national prominence again under Mark Richt, it always lurked amongst a loss to Florida or a stumble against South Carolina. 

We found all sorts of ways to be among the best teams in the country and still be shut out of the championship, sometimes literally one play and a few yards away from triumph only to see it slip away with the final seconds of the clock.

So this two-year run of football dominance, when we beat Alabama, won a SEC title, defeated some Big 10 teams with pretensions to greatness and finally won back-to-back national titles?

It’s overwhelming. I’m not entirely constitutionally built to withstand such unmitigated joy and prosperity on the gridiron.

So here we are. On top of the football world. Of course, we’re losing some great talent, including our Heisman finalist quarterback Stetson Bennett. But then again, we lost almost our entire starting defense a year earlier and repeated as champs.

We’re already projected No. 1 for the upcoming season. We’re the early favorites to win the title again for a nearly unprecedented third time running.

We may stumble and come back to earth at long last. Or we may keep the dynasty afloat a while longer. 

If it’s the latter, I’ll try and figure out how to allow myself to feel that much joy at once, no matter how hard.

Stephen Milligan is news editor of The Walton Tribune.