Whether they want to or not, every conference championship, contending, SEC head coach must comment on Alabama football. On Tuesday, Kirby Smart tried being clever.
In fairness to Kirby Smart, being a head coach is so different from being an assistant, it takes time to get it down. Kirby is still working on it. Not that he has done a poor job. His three Bulldogs’ teams have gone 32-10. Good, but not near good enough to take down Alabama football.
Under Kirby, the Bulldogs appeared ascendant in 2017, winning the SEC Championship and battling the Alabama Crimson Tide to the wire in that year’s National Championship game. Rapidly rising expectations among Georgia fans led to assumptions 2018 would be the season Kirby and the Bulldogs took down Alabama football and Nick Saban.
It didn’t happen. No one can say Georgia limped to an 11-3 season. But the results sowed some doubt about Kirby taking down Nick Saban. Losing by a touchdown to the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship game was no embarrassment. What was embarrassing can be seen below.
The Alabama football team was so fully prepared for the fake, the only logical assessment is Kirby panicked and choked. Dawg Nation summed it up with this,
There’s no defending Georgia’s Kirby Smart for calling fake punt.
In a word, it was stupid.
… one of the great chokes of all time.
On Tuesday when asked what it takes for Georgia to beat the Alabama Crimson Tide, Kirby quipped,
He was, of course, commenting on Jalen Hurts’ heroics last season. It was not a good time to deflect with cleverness. He recovered with a much better response about physicality and finishing. Which is exactly what he should have immediately said.
Clemson did not out-clever the Alabama Crimson Tide in the National Championship game. The Tigers lined up nose to nose and won more battles in the trenches. Admittedly SEC teams (think LSU) have not had any recent success trying to bully an Alabama football team. Last year’s Georgia team had the best shot to do so of any recent SEC team.
The Bulldogs blew their shot at a defensively vulnerable Nick Saban team. Kirby and the Georgia faithful are wrong if they think the 2019 Crimson Tide defense will not be much improved.
It will take more than clever for Georgia to beat the Crimson Tide if the two meet in the 2019 SEC Championship. Kirby Smart needs to start acting like he knows it.
Georgia fans are correct when they state time is on their side. Nick Saban cannot coach forever. But there is no guarantee when Nick does eventually retire, that Kirby will be one of the SEC’s top coaches.