Bradley’s Buzz: Likening Stetson Bennett to Michael Jordan. Seriously

This time a year ago, yours truly labeled Stetson Bennett the greatest story in the history of college football. A revision is required.

Stetson Bennett is the greatest story in the history of sports.

ExploreBennett saves best performance for last game at Georgia

I know, I know. You’re saying, “There’s Exhibit 150,001 of the goofy Bradley hyperbole.” (And if you are, you’re trafficking in reverse hyperbole. I’ve counted every overstatement in a 45-year career. They number in the mere five figures.) But hear me out.

Michael Jordan – greatest player in any sport ever, right? Michael Jordan played in six NBA finals. His team won all six. He was the finals MVP six times.

Stetson Bennett, who came to Georgia as a walk-on and came back to Georgia as a backup, leaves as the first quarterback to engineer consecutive College Football Playoff titles. Bennett worked four CFP games. He was the offensive MVP in all four.

In those four games, he threw for 1,189 yards. He had 12 touchdown passes, one interception. He completed 67.8 percent of his passes. He ran for three touchdowns. He led a fourth-quarter comeback against Alabama. He authored an epic rally against Ohio State.

He’s the first quarterback to preside over four playoff wins. Deshaun Watson, Trevor Lawrence and Bryce Young each were 3-1, each losing a final. The opposing quarterbacks in Bennett’s final three CFP games were a Heisman winner (Young), a third-place finisher (C.J. Stroud) and a runner-up (Max Duggan).

Joe Montana won four Super Bowls in four tries, being the MVP in three. Tom Brady has won seven Super Bowls in 10 tries, having been MVP in five. Stetson Fleming Bennett IV was IV-for-IV in both CFP wins and MVPs, and it’s not as if Georgia had no other offensive players of note. But no team wins anything without a top-shelf quarterback, and SFB4, of all people, sits on a shelf of his own.

His would have been a stunning achievement if he’d been a recruit on the level of Lawrence or Justin Fields. That Bennett was the guy nobody wanted – even Georgia, as Kirby Smart and Todd Monken have confessed – makes this the classic victim-to-victory song. (That voice you hear is Sia singing a triumphant refrain.) Bennett didn’t just surmount opponents. He overcame his own coaches.

ExploreMore Mark Bradley on Stetson Bennett - the greatest of all Georgia quarterebacks

He wouldn’t be Stetson Bennett, sure to be the subject of a Netflix series, if he were a shrinking violet. He celebrated his first title to the extent that he appeared, ahem, sleepy on “Good Morning America.” That, ahem, sleepiness led to him serving notice to Messrs. Smart and Monken: “We will see if I can trust the decisions made by the staff.”

Apparently assuaged, he returned to Georgia as a sixth-year senior. He celebrated his second title with a cigar and … well, we’re not sure how else. He was a no-show at the morning-after press briefing. (Brock Bowers was dragged away from breakfast as a sub.)

Bennett’s story might seem like it’s ripped from the pages of a Chip Hilton book, except that the fictional Chip was the nation’s best athlete in three sports and never said anything that wasn’t as vanilla as the milkshakes down at the campus drugstore, where he worked when not playing ball and getting straight A’s. That Bennett can be a contrary cuss makes this almost too good. Almost, I said.

Early Tuesday, Mike Cavan tweeted: “I just want everyone to understand that Stetson Bennett is the greatest player in the history of UGA.” Cavan played quarterback at Georgia. His dad, a noted high school coach, was also a Bulldog. As a sophomore, Cavan led Georgia to the Sugar Bowl. He was head coach at Valdosta State, East Tennessee and SMU. He has worked in his alma mater’s athletic department since 2002.

Cavan’s biggest claim to fame is, or was, having recruited the greatest player in the history of UGA. He spent the winter/spring of 1980 in Wrightsville, trying to fend off rivals from every school with a set of goapposts. On the Easter morning when Herschel Walker signed his letter-of-intent, the precious paper was brought to a car sitting outside the Walker house. Inside were Vince Dooley, recruiting director Steve Greer and Cavan.

I’ve known Cavan for a while. Unlike yours truly, he’s not much for hyperbole. He says what he believes. He believes Stetson Bennett is the greatest of Bulldogs. Case closed.

The above is part of a regular exercise, written and curated by yours truly, available to all who register on AJC.com for our free Sports Daily newsletter. The full Buzz, which includes more opinions and extras like a weekly poll and pithy quotes, arrives via email around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

FAQ: How do you sign up? Go to the AJC.com home page. Click on “newsletters” at the top right. Click on “Sports Daily.” You’ll need to enter your email address. Thanks in advance, folks.