Dateline: Athens, Georgia, USA; January 8, 2020. Quarterback Jake Fromm declared for the NFL draft, offensive lineman Cade Mays transferred to Tennessee and the University of Georgia announced that they would drop the sport of football and replace it with women’s lacrosse beginning with the 2020-21 academic year. Sanford Stadium will be downsized from 92,500 seats to 925 seats to better accommodate the rabid fans who support lacrosse.
Just kidding of course, but the sky did fall in Georgia last week when Fromm announced that he would forego his senior season between the hedges. That left a 5’10” former walk-on, a redshirt freshman still recovering from brain surgery and an incoming true freshman as the scholarship quarterbacks on the roster until a promising graduate transfer from Wake Forest named Jamie Newman enrolled. This same scenario could happen next January.
With a trip to Alabama looming in the third game, there’s no way Georgia will win a national championship in 2020 with a new quarterback so the sport may as well be dropped.
That facetious take seemed appropriate if you read the countless blogs devoted to Georgia football and listened to callers to sports talk radio and TV. “Fromm won’t be a first-round pick and he owed us another year,” was the common refrain. “Kirby Smart ran Justin Fields off to Ohio State where he was a Heisman finalist and now look what a mess we are in.”
Georgia fans being who we are, the many who booed the offense at halftime of the Kentucky game were likely the same people singing the blues over Fromm’s departure. They didn’t like his junior season performance but think Georgia won’t win any big games in 2020 without him. Go figure. That’s stronger than irony, that’s sardonic. Look it up.
The minute the national championship game ended in Atlanta on January 8, 1918, the speculation began about Fromm’s future. He had a great freshman season so the question naturally became would he stay for four years or go pro after his third season, per the NFL’s blessing. The romantics among us believed that Jake’s blood ran red and black so no amount of money would deprive us of his services for a senior season.
Jake Fromm owes UGA and its fans absolutely nothing. His NFL draft stock is only his concern, not ours. The logic for remaining at Georgia to play with a rebuilt lineup in a conservative offensive scheme just did not exist. The risk of a career ending injury is ever present, so nostalgia, and acquiescing to irrational fans, mostly strangers, pays no bills.
Georgia football survived the early departures of Herschel Walker, Garrison Hearst, Matthew Stafford and many others. It will survive Fromm’s exit as well. The national championship or bust attitude that froths from the the mouths of a large segment of the fan base is ludicrous. It proves that misery does indeed love company.
January 8 was not April 1, but it made fools of countless Georgia “fans.” I only wonder how many of those even lived through the few rough patches of Georgia football. Georgia has never had a deeper overall roster than right now. Player transition occurs routinely in college football and there’s no reason to panic, but don’t let me stop you.
Gene Walker is a retired educator who lives in Thomson. His column, “Sports Talk,” appears in the weekly editions of The McDuffie Progress. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.