“There’s a lot of hype about the game, huh?” Georgia nose guard John Jenkins said Tuesday. “I’m just trying to enjoy the moment. You’ve always got to think about the journey. It was a long journey here. A lot of people took us out when we lost to South Carolina and now we’re in one of the biggest shows in America right now, close to the Super Bowl.”
Yes, Georgia’s fifth trip to the SEC title game under Mark Richt is different than his previous four.
The game transcends the sports pages and the college football world because waiting for the winner in the BCS title game is iconic Notre Dame, which is unbeaten and will play for its first national title since 1988.
“Notre Dame will go to the national championship game against either the Georgia Bulldogs or the Crimson Tide of Alabama,” Brian Williams told viewers of “NBC Nightly News” during his Monday night broadcast.
“I guess technically we don’t know for certain, but everybody’s pretty much saying that the winner is going to play for the national championship, so that certainly adds something to it,” Richt said. “The Southeastern Conference championship to me stands alone as something that’s really, really special. Just look at our game, the ticket sales, and the people trying to get tickets. I was listening to the radio on the way in and somebody said that the costs of these tickets rival any BCS national championship game. There’s something about our league that’s special.”
The league is the home to the last six BCS national champions.
“For all intents and purposes, every time we have been in it, since I’ve been here, this is a playoff game,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “The two years we played Florida we were No. 1 and No. 2. …Now you have 2 and 3 playing, which is a great competitive venue. They have certainly earned the right to be there, with their accomplishments and their full body of work. Our team has done the same thing, so it’s the kind of game that players should love to play in, and we’re looking forward to it.”
So is Jenkins.
“I remember when I went to Florida I held the crystal ball in coach (Will) Muschamp’s office,” Jenkins said of a recruiting visit. “I’m in Georgia right now and I have an opportunity to hold the crystal ball in Georgia’s office or being able to win an SEC championship. For us to be in this position and have the opportunity to play for these type of awards is a blessing.”
“This is why I came to Georgia to play in games like this,” Commings said. “Playing for the conference championship for a chance to go play for the natty. It’s definitely the biggest game I’ve ever played in in my life really.”
Like Cody, like Jenkins
Terrence Cody now plays for the Baltimore Ravens, but the former Alabama nose guard’s name has come up again this week with comparison’s to Georgia’s Jenkins.
“He's reminds me a lot of Cody when we had him here,” Saban said. “He's a hard guy to block.”
The 6-3, 358-pound Jenkins followed Cody at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
“I lived in his shadows my whole two years there,” Jenkins said. “For Nick Saban to give me that type of compliment, it’s a big deal. It’s almost an honor. Nick Saban is very respected in the college football world. He recruited Mount Cody.”
Jenkins drew interest from Alabama, but the Crimson Tide landed 6-4, 320-pound Jesse Williams, who is from Brisbane, Australia via Western Arizona Community College.
“I don’t know if he was doing what I was doing,” Jenkins said. “I was looking like `I don’t want to go here if he goes there.’”
Schoolwork and filmwork for Murray
Quarterback Aaron Murray was excused from interviews with the media this week not only because of a big game but a busy week of school, Richt said.
“I know he had two big papers this week,” Richt said. “He loves to submerge himself into the film study of every game and this one he wants to focus on nothing but Alabama. He doesn’t want to have any other distraction so that’s OK with me.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said his academic work put Murray behind some in his film study.
“Hopefully he’ll have some time since he’s not doing any media the rest of the week,” Bobo said.
This and that
Receiver Malcolm Mitchell (shoulder contusion) practiced in a non-contact jersey Tuesday. “We’re a little banged up,” Bobo said of the receiving corps. “It’s a little area of concern for those guys, how much volume, how much reps they’ve had, but I know they’ll be a lot of juice on Saturday.” Cornerback Damian Swann (strained neck) also practiced in non-contact jersey.
Georgia practiced in misty conditions. “I really liked the effort and I really liked the attitude, but I didn’t like the conditions because I know they’re going to be different when we play on Saturday,” Richt said. “It is what it is, though. We made the best of it.”
Bobo said he was honored to be a finalist for the Broyles Award for nation’s top assistant and credited the players and other coaches. Asked if he’s ready to become a head coach, he said: “All I’m really focused on is the job that I’ve got at hand right now and that’s getting ready for Alabama. If I was worried about anything else at this moment, I’d be cheating those players.”