Guarded anticipation has turned into high expectation in Athens, Georgia, since Kirby Smart came on the scene eight years ago. In that short period of time, he has brought the greatest football glory in history to the University of Georgia.
The UGA family, doting fans across the state and the football world have seen this indefatigable young man signal early on that he has special qualities as a recruiter and coach. In only his second year, he had the Bulldogs playing for the national championship. Any seasoned soothsayer would suggest that it would take back-to-back- to-back sensational recruiting years to be able to contend for a national championship.
What the Bulldog aficionados have with their leader is someone who can recruit with the best and he now has a track record that confirms he can coach with the best. As of today, he is the greatest football coach in the history of the state.
Insiders will tell you that he is a very smart man. His surname defines him. He is consumed by his coaching responsibilities. You go into his office; you are on the clock. He has no time for small talk. One of his greatest assets in a game that thrives on mental acuity, he couches everything in a positive framework.
In addition to being a remarkable recruiter and coach, he is a smooth and insightful communicator. He makes sense to his staff, he makes sense to recruits and he makes sense to his players. Before he could reach the mountain top, he had to defeat his mentor and friend, Nick Saban. That finally came about in Indianapolis
on Jan. 10, 2022. There were four bitter losses before he could dethrone his mentor. Yet, he
will tell you he would not be where he is today without having spent time with Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa. He is driven by pride, not ego.
Now Kirby has a monumental challenge in trying to do something that hasn’t been done since the thirties and that is to win a third consecutive national championship. Minnesota was the last team to pull that off—in 1934-36.
“I say that three-peat is possible but not probable, but if anybody can, Kirby can.” Most pundits would suggest that Georgia has a favorable schedule except that the SEC is the toughest, most abundantly competitive league— top to bottom—in college football. The forecast suggests that the toughest opponent will be Tennessee in Knoxville. Nov. 18.
The Dawgs literally rained on the Vols’ parade in Athens last year. The Vols will host Georgia in a hostile environment with visions of upsetting Alabama in Neyland Stadium last fall prominent in their recall. Taking down Georgia has been a lofty goal since the New Year began. While there is quarterback talent in Athens, none has produced under pressure, and while Carson Beck is the front runner with excellent talent, he must first win the job. There is a passel of good running backs in Athens and also receivers, led by Ladd McConkey, the mountain boy who grew up in a family with feelings for Tennessee orange.
There is talent in the offensive line room, there is talent across the board on defense, so what’s the big deal? It is the SEC and somebody
will bite you if you let your guard down. You have to play your best every Saturday. The pressure to win, to remain undefeated
is an overwhelming challenge but nobody loves a challenge, nobody is more competitive and resourceful than the Bulldogs leader. It is time
for a “Smart Attack.”