TAMPA, Fla. -- Ben Jones has heard the clichés about how losing can be valuable. He just doesn’t buy them.
Georgia’s senior center joked after a recent bowl practice that he took absolutely nothing constructive away from the Bulldogs’ 6-7 record last season.
“They say you can always learn from a loss, but I think I learn more from winning,” Jones said with a laugh. “It’s a lot easier for me to correct something saying, ‘All right, we can fix that. We won, I’m still happy,’ but I never want to lose. Some people say, ‘It’s OK, we needed that.’ It’s never OK to lose to me. I’m trying to win every game and no matter win or loss, I can correct my mistakes, but it’s a lot easier when you’ve got a win up under your belt.”
Jones and the Bulldogs earned plenty of those wins this season after the team's win total declined in each of the senior's first three seasons in Athens. He had the option to leave after last season’s disappointing finale -- an embarrassing 10-6 loss to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl -- and likely would have been drafted by an NFL team, but instead opted to return and help the program get back on track.
Jones views the Bulldogs’ SEC East title as validation for that decision -- and his coaches and teammates repaid the gesture by sending him home from the team’s senior gala with an armload of awards, including the overall team captaincy.
It was a well-deserved honor for a player widely viewed as the team’s emotional heart and soul and one of its most consistent on-field performers.
“When they called my name out for all-time captain for the team, I think that award is just going to stick with me for the rest of my life,” Jones said. “I can always come in here and my name’s going to be on the board in here. That was one of my goals coming in as a freshman. I remember them showing me some of that on the recruiting trail and thinking, ‘I want to be that so bad.’ And it came true.
“It just shows the younger guys that if you put your mind to it, it can happen. I think Georgia’s on the rise and I’m looking forward to seeing more names on that plaque.”
Jones and the Bulldogs still have one more game to go before they can turn their full attention toward next season and who might take over his leadership responsibilities after he moves on to the NFL.
He and the other team leaders have helped the Bulldogs become winners again, bringing back a greater sense of team unity in the process. Now he wants to leave the program as a winner with one last victory against Michigan State in Monday’s Outback Bowl.
“Like I’ve said earlier, it’s really hard to beat a team. That’s what we are,” Jones said. “We’ve got guys who don’t want to leave each other. Last year at this time, we were just like, ‘Let’s just go get a nap.’ It’s just a bad feeling when you’re losing. It feels like a rainy day every day. It’s been a blessing. We’ve had great weather this week and everything’s going right for us. We hope it keeps going this way in the bowl game.”