Georgia football stole most of the headlines this year for both good and bad reasons. After a myriad of off-the-field issues kept the team in the news during the offseason, the Bulldogs battled their way to a second consecutive SEC East title on the field. Without any further ado, here is Dawg Post's month-by-month breakdown of the year-that-was for Georgia.
Most Notable: Georgia football celebrated the New Year in Tampa at the Outback Bowl, where the Bulldogs suffered a devastating 33-30 loss in triple overtime to Michigan State. The Bulldogs ended their 2011 season with a 10-4 record and an SEC East title.
Other Headlines: Just days after the Outback Bowl loss, five-star running back Keith Marshall, a headliner of the Bulldogs 2012 recruiting class, enrolled early, allowing him to workout during spring practice. On Jan. 11, tight end Orson Charles decided to forego his senior season to enter the NFL draft, but safety Bacarri Rambo, along with fellow draft-eligible underclassmen Shawn Williams, Cornelius Washington, Branden Smith and Jarvis Jones, elected to return for the 2012 season. On Jan. 21, cornerback Sanders Commings was arrested on charges of domestic violence and simple battery.
Quotable: "Everybody will be back" – Shawn Williams, in response to underclassmen returning for the 2012 season.
Most Notable: Despite limited scholarships, Georgia signed one of the top football recruiting classes in the country on February 1. Among Georgia's 19 signees, the Bulldogs signed four 5-star prospects according to Fox Sports NEXT. A record 13 of the 17 members that made it to campus played in the season opener against Buffalo, including Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Jordan Jenkins, John Theus, Marshall Morgan, Collin Barber, Mark Beard and Josh Harvey-Clemons—all key contributors to the 2012 season.
Other Headlines: After a 3-10 start in SEC play, the Georgia men's basketball team broke a three-game losing streak with a 76-62 upset over No. 12 Florida on February 25. Mark Richt dismissed cornerbacks Nick Marshall and Chris Sanders and wide receiver Sanford Seay for violating team rules on Feb. 3. Richt also announced Sanders Commings would be suspended for the first two games of the 2012 season following his January arrest.
Quotable: "These guys are special backs" – Mark Richt, about Marshall and Gurley on signing day.
Other Headlines: Cornerback Branden Smith was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana on March 11. Sophomore Malcolm Mitchell moved from wide receiver to cornerback to offset the losses in Georgia's depleted secondary. Later that month, backup tailback Carlton Thomas announced his decision to transfer. Kentavious Caldwell Pope led the men's basketball team defeated Mississippi State 71-61 in the first round of the SEC tournament, but lost to Vanderbilt 63-41 in the quarterfinals. The Bulldogs of the hardcourt finished 15-17 overall, and Caldwell-Pope was named to the SEC's All-Freshman team.
Quotable: "Some kids had (pot brownies) that were staying with him and he said he got high. He thought the things had marijuana in them. He sat there a couple of hours and didn't know what to do. He said if he turned himself in he'd get a four-game suspension for a second offense." – Bacarri Rambo's high school head coach Alan Ingram, when explaining to the Athens Banner-Herald that Rambo had tested positive in a school-administered drug test.
Most Notable: Georgia grad Bubba Watson pulled off a miracle finish in a sudden death playoff to win the 2012 Masters Tournament in Augusta. Watson's first major victory had the state and its flagship university abuzz for weeks.
Other Headlines: Seven former Bulldogs were selected in the 2012 NFL Draft in late April. Guard Cordy Glenn was the first selected, when the Bills took him in the second round. Center Ben Jones (Houston Texans), tight end Orson Charles (Cincinnati Bengals) and cornerback Brandon Boykin (Philadelphia Eagles) were selected in the fourth round. Kicker Blair Walsh (Minnesota Vikings) was picked in the fifth round, and Justin Anderson (Indianapolis Colts) and DeAngelo Tyson (Baltimore Ravens) were taken in the seventh round.
Quotable: "To all my fans, you got to say, ‘Go Dogs.'" – an emotional Bubba Watson after winning the Masters on April 8.
Most Notable: UGA President Michael Adams announced he would retire after the 2012-2013 school year. Adams, who served as chairman of the NCAA executive committee, has been actively involved in Georgia's athletic department during his tenure. Adams showed beloved athletic director Vince Dooley the door in 2003, handpicked Dooley's predecessor Damon Evans and played a big role in the hiring—and subsequent firing—of former men's basketball coach Jim Harrick.
Other Headlines: Serving as the host site and the No. 2 national seed, the Georgia men's tennis team fell 4-3 to Pepperdine in the Elite 8. Georgia also hosted the women's tournament, and the women's team lost 4-2 to Duke in the Elite 8. Georgia's baseball team completed their only series sweep of a conference opponent when the Bulldogs beat Auburn in three games at home at the beginning of May. Two weeks later, Auburn handed the Bulldogs a second loss in the double-elimination SEC tournament, ending the Bulldogs' season with a 31-26 record. Georgia's softball team saw its season come to an end in the Super Regionals when the Bulldogs dropped two of three games at Tennessee. Gymnastics coach Jay Clark was forced to submit his resignation on May 4, and Danna Durante was hired to coach the Gym Dogs on May 23. Ohio State and Georgia cancelled football matchups between the schools that were planned for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Outside linebacker Chase Vasser was arrested for DUI in Atlanta, though news of his arrest and subsequent two game suspension did not surface until August.
Quotable: "I do believe it is time for a change. And I look forward to the Bulldog nation uniting under new leadership in the near future." – Vince Dooley on Michael Adam's retirement announcement.
Most Notable: On June 29, Georgia's leading tailback in 2011, Isaiah Crowell was arrested after police found a pistol under the driver seat of Crowell's car during a search at a roadblock on East Campus Road in Athens. Crowell was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, possessing a weapon in a school zone and carrying a gun with an altered ID mark, and by the time he was released from jail, Mark Richt had dismissed the Columbus native. Crowell, the crowned jewel of the 2011 "Dream Team" recruiting class, was expected to start at the tailback position in 2012, but the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2011 soon transferred to Alabama State.
Other Headlines: After six months of discussion, head football coach Mark Richt received a contract extension that would make him the head coach through December 2016 and no longer required Richt to pay Georgia anything if he chose to leave before then. Athletic director Greg McGarity also got a pay raise and a two-year extension to keep him at Georgia through 2017. On June 8, Georgia announced defensive coordinator Todd Grantham also received a raise ($75,000), extension (through 2014) and new title (associate head coach). On June 5, the Atlanta Braves selected Georgia pitcher Alex Wood in the second round of the MLB draft. Georgia's top baseball signee, Byron Buxton of Appling County, was selected second overall by the Minnesota Twins. Georgia fired women's golf coach Kelley Hester and hired Southern Cal assistant Josh Brewer.
Quotable: "Things happen." – Isaiah Crowell told Dawg Post upon his release from jail.
Most Notable: With America's attention focused on the 2012 summer Olympics in London, Georgia's Allison Schmitt became the first Bulldog swimmer to win an individual gold medal. Schmitt won two gold medals as part of the American relay team, one of which included fellow Georgia swimmer Shannon Vreeland, and Schmitt also won a silver and bronze medal in London. In total, 26 athletes, one coach and one administrator with ties to the University of Georgia participated in the London games.
Other Headlines: A week after quitting the team, redshirt sophomore linebacker Brandon Burrows was granted a reinstatement on July 9. After notifying Penn State of "intent to contact" 19 players after the NCAA ruled players in the PSU program could transfer, Georgia revoked its stance and elected not to pursue any Nittany Lions. Officials dropped the charges against Georgia basketball player Donte Williams, who was arrested and charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession in Atlanta in May.
Quotable: "She told me she wanted a medal of every color. She's got them now." – Georgia swimming and diving coach Jack Baurle on Allison Schmitt's Olympic success.
Most Notable: Georgia entered the 2012 football season with high expectations. The Bulldogs ranked No. 6 in both the initial USA Today Coaches Poll and the preseason AP Poll.
Other Headlines: Seven walk-on football players, including fullback Merritt Hall, safety Connor Norman and tailback Brandon Harton, were awarded scholarships. Branden Smith was cleared to play Georgia's opener after Smith passed two drug test immediately following his arrest on March 11. Baseball player Kyle Carter, one of Georgia's top new arrivals in 2012, was arrested and charged with simple assault and having a weapon in a school zone after using a baseball bat to threaten a female unknown to him in his dorm room. Georgia's Athletic Association revised its drug testing policy for the first time in more than three and a half years, though changes were minor and largely focused on the confidentiality of the tests.
Quotable: "I don't really want to say too much, but when I saw that (No.) 3 running down there today, I was like `That's going to be a Trent Richardson.' He's big and fast." – Safety Shawn Williams when discussing Todd Gurley after a preseason scrimmage.
Most Notable: The Georgia football team cruised through its first five games, including three conference victories (at Missouri, vs. Vanderbilt and vs. Tennessee). Linebacker Jarvis Jones welcomed Missouri to the SEC with a Heisman-like performance, and Todd Gurley (SEC freshman of the week after Buffalo) and Keith Marshall ran wild in the first month of the season.
Other Headlines: Mark Richt remained coy throughout on Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree's suspensions, but the two defensive stalwarts sat for Georgia's first four games and returned against Tennessee. In their absence—among others—Georgia's heralded defense struggled in the first month, allowing an average of 22 points per game in the stretch against Buffalo, Mizzou, Florida Atlantic, Vandy and Tennessee. On Sept. 7, former Georgia women's basketball player Katrina McClain was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Quotable: "He may be the best defensive player in America." – Mark Richt on Jarvis Jones after Jones's performance against Missouri.
Most Notable: No. 5 Georgia was upended by No. 6 South Carolina in an embarrassingly lopsided 35-7 loss on Oct. 6, but by the end of the month, Georgia's 17-9 win over #2 Florida had the Bulldogs back in the SEC East driver's seat.
Other Headlines: Georgia's leading wide receiver Michael Bennett was lost for the season prior to the South Carolina game after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray's house was vandalized following the loss to South Carolina. Murray received SEC offensive player of the week honors following his performance at Kentucky. Defensive end Abry Jones suffered an ankle injury against Kentucky that ended his regular season. Prior to the Florida game, safety Shawn Williams called out his defensive teammates for being "soft" and playing without emotions. Early in October, the Georgia basketball team began practicing.
Quotable: "We're playing too soft as a defense... It gets frustrating because I'm sitting here and I'm giving all I got and I feel like I've got some guys that are not. I feel we've got some guys that are in a whole different place." – Shawn Williams regarding Georgia's defense on the Monday before the Florida game.
Most Notable: Georgia dismantled Auburn 38-0 as the defense pitched its first shutout of the season. The win gave Georgia its second consecutive SEC East championship and ensured the Bulldogs a spot in the SEC title game in December.
Other Headlines: Georgia won the state championship with a sweep over Georgia Southern (45-14) and Georgia Tech (42-10). By the time the Bulldogs met the Yellow Jackets, Georgia had moved up to No. 3 in the polls, meaning an SEC championship victory would lock up a spot in the BCS national title game. Bacarri Rambo tied Jake Scott's school record when he notched his 16th career interception at Auburn. Georgia men's basketball won its season opener against Jacksonville, but the Bulldogs of the hardcourt then dropped four straight—the first two losses much more embarrassing than the next two. First, Mark Fox's crew lost to Youngstown St. and Southern Miss at home, and then the Bulldogs lost to top-ranked Indiana and UCLA in Brooklyn, N.Y. Georgia signed point guard J.J. Frazier and shooting guard Juwan Parker on Nov. 13. On Nov. 20, Georgia women's basketball coach Andy Landers became only the eighth head coach in basketball history – men's or women's – to record 800 wins at one Division I institution after a 94-57 victory over Savannah State.
Quotable: "This is what everybody has been dreaming of. This is what everybody came back for. This is our main goal, to get to Miami and win." – Senior safety Bacarri Rambo on Georgia's chance to play in the national championship with a win in the SEC title game.
Most Notable: No. 3 Georgia dropped a 32-28 heartbreaker in the Georgia Dome to No. 2 Alabama, sending the Crimson Tide to the BCS National Championship game and Georgia to the Capital One Bowl to face a reeling Nebraska squad. The Bulldogs and Tide swapped the lead four times in the second half alone, and when quarterback Aaron Murray's pass was deflected only to land in Chris Conley's hands as he slipped to the ground four yards short of the endzone, time expired on the Bulldogs and their national championship hopes.
Other Headlines: The SEC Championship game was the most watched college football game of the 2012 season. Jarvis Jones was named SEC defensive player of the year and received a number of other postseason accolades, including All-SEC and All-America recognition. The men's basketball team continued its abysmal start to the 2012 season by dropping a 62-54 decision at Georgia Tech and losing an 81-78 overtime thriller to Iona. After freshman baseball player Kyle Parker was arrested a second time, Parker left the team and planned to transfer. Georgia women's basketball climbed to No. 6 in the country with an undefeated start.
Quotable: "If anybody thinks our guys didn't play their tail off and Aaron Murray didn't play his tail off, they are crazy." A fiercely emotional Mark Richt following Georgia's 32-28 loss in the SEC Championship game.