Top 10 Georgia sports stories of 2013

semerson@macon.comDecember 31, 2013 

Georgia Auburn Football

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray moments after the game ended at Auburn. Murray passed for 415 yards, but his final pass was incomplete.

JASON GETZ — ASSOCIATED PRESS

The usual introduction is that it was quite a year. Well, it was, so let's get that out of the way. Rankings such as these are also very subjective, and depend on your perspective. So let's get that out of the way too.

The attempt here was to include all of Georgia sports, with an emphasis on the most visible one. And this is a ranking of the overall arching storylines of 2013, not just simple events, games or plays. (I suspect you know which single play would be the top one. And I suspect you don't want to relive it.)

Therefore, one man's rankings of the top 10 Georgia sports stories of the year about to be gone past:

10. Georgia’s NFL draft haul
On the first day of the 2013, Alec Ogletree announced he was skipping his senior year. Jarvis Jones followed a few days later. Those two linebackers both ended up being first-round picks, and six more Bulldogs followed: John Jenkins and Shawn Williams (third round), Sanders Commings and Tavarres King (fifth round), Cornelius Washington and Bacarri Rambo (sixth round). The total of eight tied the all-time record for Georgia. Three more players who weren’t drafted ended up making NFL rosters, and one of them – receiver Marlon Brown – led the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in touchdown catches this season.

9. The Kolton Houston saga ends happily
For three years Kolton Houston and Georgia battled with the NCAA, fighting to make the offensive lineman eligible. Houston continued to fail drug tests – the result of a lingering steroid injection from high school, Houston and UGA said – and the NCAA continued to hold firm. Then in July, Houston finally passed his test. A month later he started at right tackle at Clemson.

8. Women’s swimming national title
Jack Bauerle has had a storied run as Georgia’s swimming coach, but how was this for pressure: His 2012-13 team had two returning swimmers who medaled in the London Olympics, including Allison Schmitt and her three gold medals. The team came through, winning it all in the spring, and athletics director Greg McGarity celebrated with the team by jumping in the water with the Bulldogs.

7. Hoops women reach Elite 8
For the first time in nine years, the Georgia women’s basketball team made it past the Sweet 16 – and very nearly made it all the way to the Final Four. The Bulldogs did it by knocking off top-seeded Stanford, which three years before blew out Georgia 73-36 in the Sweet 16. This time the Bulldogs (who finished the season 28-7) won by two, and moved on to face second-seeded California. The Bulldogs led for most of the game, including by 10 late in the half. But the Bears rallied to force overtime, and won by three.

6. Baseball coaching change
David Perno’s long and (for the most part) successful tenure as head baseball coach at his alma mater ended in June. Perno was fired after a second straight losing season. He was replaced eventually by Scott Stricklin, who had been head coach at Kent State.

5. KCP stars – and leaves
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was a big story unto himself the first three months of the year: The sophomore guard became the first Georgia player since Dominique Wilkins to be named SEC player of the year. But then KCP’s decision to turn pro had a big effect on the Bulldog men’s basketball program, and perhaps the future of head coach Mark Fox. It worked out well for Caldwell-Pope, who was a lottery pick. But without its star the young Bulldogs began the season 6-5 in what is a pivotal year for Fox and the program.

4. The young defense struggles
Yes, offense in general was up across college football, and Georgia was starting freshmen and inexperienced players. But it was still a bitterly disappointing season for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s unit, which gave up the most points in school history, and the most yards since the mid-1990s. The secondary was chiefly to blame, with the defensive line, under new coach Chris Wilson, actually performing fairly well.

3. Aaron Murray answers the critics
He couldn’t win the big game. Or so the meme’ went. The meme’ went away in 2013, as Murray led Georgia to stirring wins over South Carolina and LSU, and to a comeback win at Tennessee despite losing much of his supporting cast during the game. Georgia only went 8-4, but it wasn’t Murray’s fault. He did everything in his power, and leaves school as arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks in school history.

2. The injuries on offense
The most significant single play of Georgia’s season ended up being Todd Gurley’s 75-yard run to open the second series at Clemson. Gurley strained his quad during the run, but worse off was receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who tore his ACL celebrating with Gurley in the end zone. Gurley was never 100 percent the rest of the way, with the quad problem giving way to a sprained ankle against LSU, which knocked him out of the next three games. Georgia lost two of them. Then there was the “carnage” at Tennessee, as Mark Richt called it: Justin Scott-Wesley and Keith Marshall lost to ACLs, Michael Bennett tearing his meniscus, causing him to miss two more games. It was topped off by Aaron Murray’s ACL injury against Kentucky, in Game 11. All told, Georgia lost at least two full games from every offensive skill-position starter and top reserve, with the exception of starting tight end Arthur Lynch – who only missed one game.

1. The cardiac Dawgs
Loren Smith, who has observed every season for more than a half-century, agreed that this was the most emotionally exhausting season he could remember. Georgia had four games decided by three points, two more by five points or less, another game go overtime (and two total in overtime), and none of that includes the 11-point win over South Carolina. From the heartwrenching loss at Auburn, to the comeback win over Georgia Tech, to close wins against LSU and South Carolina, and bitter losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt, it’s no wonder, as Mark Richt said often, “TV loves us.”

Ledger-Enquirer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service