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Chris White: It wasn’t their time, but no regrets

ATLANTA — As Alabama players stormed the field and confetti rained from the Georgia Dome roof, Georgia players made a painfully familiar walk to the locker room.

Most made the trek stoically, some with million-mile stares and a few obviously fighting back tears.

Unlike the scene a year ago when Georgia players trudged to the locker room after a 42-10 loss to LSU, the Bulldogs didn’t leave the field as the SEC East’s feel-good story after rallying from an 0-2 start to the season.

This time they had plans to be here, they planned to win here, and they weren’t shy about saying it. This season was less about surprise and all about expectations.

It was their team, their time and there were going to be no regrets, as the team’s motto goes.

“Several guys came back to be deemed SEC champions, to play for a national championship,” Georgia senior receiver Tavarres King said. “Those dreams were crushed tonight. You can imagine everybody is pretty mad and sad. After all those hours you put in for 60 minutes, it’s just sad it has to end like this.”

Georgia came within a few yards and about as many seconds from unseating the reigning national champion and earning a chance to win one of their own. The 32-28 loss to Alabama was maybe most painful for those who won’t get the opportunity again, including several who sacrificed an NFL paycheck for this opportunity.

Linebackers Jarvis Jones and Cornelius Washington, cornerback Sanders Commings, safeties Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams, and defensive lineman John Jenkins came back to win in Atlanta and to win in Miami, the site of the BCS championship game. They were together when they formally announced in January their decisions to return with a news conference, and they’ll remember this season for the journey that it was rather than the detour it ultimately took from what they envisioned, Jones said.


“Those guys sacrificed a lot to come back here and reach one of our goals, and that was to come here,” Jones said. “Obviously we fell short of going to the BCS title. We were four seconds away from playing in that. But I think these guys will look back and they’ll love the season that we had. We fought. We bonded. We played together this whole season and we really came a long way.”

Saturday’s game was the closest those defensive returners have come to the elusive SEC title, and for most of them, the last chance to win one. Jones has one year of eligibility remaining but is presumed gone after this season. He is considered by many NFL draft analysts to be an early first-round pick. All the others will be finished after Georgia’s bowl game.

Even as they were still taking off their pads and dressing wounds in the minutes after the game, there was no resentment about the decision among those who spent another year beating up their bodies and living under someone else’s rules when they could easily have moved on and left for the pros.

“Any time you win 11 games in the regular season and go play for the championship, and lose the way we did, it’s a good season,” Commings said. “We’re sad but we can’t be disappointed.”

There’s something to be said about overcoming the challenges they didn’t expect, too, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. There were suspensions and injuries, moves to make up for them and adjustments when they over. In many ways, it was more of a challenge than they even expected, he said.

“I think they’ll still think they accomplished a lot of things,” Grantham said. “I would say I’m very proud of what they’ve done, and they were a very resilient group. They’ve stuck together. They’ve been through a lot of things with guys not being available for whatever and guys coming and working. They got better as the season went along, and we just came up a little short.”

It may have hurt a little more if the seniors felt they hadn’t played their best or if they had allowed Alabama run away with the SEC title, Commings said. But there are memories, a bowl game yet to play and a 12-win season on the line.

Knowing that, it’s a loss that stings but also one Georgia players can live with.

“I don’t regret coming back at all,” Commings said. “I’m proud of my team, I’m proud of my boys and I’m proud of my seniors. I’m glad we came back. We had a successful season, and if anything, we only raised our draft stock.”

UGA senior athletic administrator Crumley resigns

by Marc Weiszer

Frank Crumley, a top UGA athletics administrator who had worked in the department for more than 20 years, has resigned, the school said on Wednesday. Crumley stepped down Tuesday, according to... Full Story

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UGA senior athletic administrator Crumley resigns http://t.co/1BYTbfikgB #UGA

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