Alabama Football: Georgia loss in T-Town will cause Bulldogs meltdown

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs can’t stand another loss to Alabama football.

Alabama football, at least in terms of Nick Saban is an anomaly. Every head coach, joining a new team is bestowed with a honeymoon period. During that period, abundant optimism often leads to unrealistic expectations. Rivals will be vanquished, old glories will be re-kindled, championships will be won.

Few coaches can match such lofty anticipation. Nick Saban, leading Alabama football to a National Championship in his year three was an anomaly. Four National Championships later, Nick Saban sprinted past honeymoon dreams to legendary status.

National Championships, even one, bestow an extended honeymoon for every coach fortunate enough to win one. Ed Orgeron has reached that at LSU. No other coach in the SEC has that added buttress against career decline. Even the SEC’s other National Championship winning coach, Jimbo Fisher, has a diminishing honeymoon window in College Station.

All of which leads to consideration of Georgia Head Coach, Kirby Smart. The Bulldogs were sure Kirby was the Prince who would be King. Kirby was expected to be a younger, more enthusiastic, more aggressive, Nick Saban clone. To some extent, the Bulldogs got in Kirby exactly what was being sought. His success in recruiting has been outstanding.

Going back to the 2017 signing class, Kirby has brought Georgia 17, 5-Star recruits. His lowest-ranked class as defined by the 247Sports Composite was No. 3 in 2017, followed by two No. 1 and one No. 2 classes in the next three years.

Plus, Kirby has won. His four-season record is 44-12 and that includes five losses in his first season. He won an SEC Championship in 2017, along with a CFB Playoff semi-final against Oklahoma. After the 2017 season, Kirby was named SEC Coach of the Year. The Bulldogs have not been ranked outside the Top 10 since Sept. 23, 2017.

The recruiting success and win percentage have defined Kirby Smart as one of the top coaches in college football. As Georgia fans know, those achievements do not tell the full story.

The problem for Kirby is Georgia fans define his career success by beating Nick Saban and winning a National Championship. Nothing less is enough. Kirby must beat Saban.

Going back to the 2008 season, the Georgia Bulldogs have lost five straight games to the Alabama Crimson Tide. The last two were on Kirby’s watch. And they were two, big losses. The first was the overtime dagger to Bulldogs’ dreams for the 2017 National championship. The second was the 2018 SEC Championship.

Georgia fans will admit some of Kirby’s staff choices have been weak. It is also hard to ignore some of Kirby’s in-game decisions, particularly the fake-punt against the Crimson Tide. Legitimately, Kirby gets a pass for not having a roster fully built by him in 2017 and 2018. That pass has been used.

Georgia fans have been sure Kirby would be the first Saban assistant to win against him. Not taking down the King in a fifth season with a roster filled with elite players – such a result would be viewed as a massive failure. That is what Kirby faces when Georgia comes to Tuscaloosa for each team’s third game of the 2020 season.

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Just as there was desperation in Kirby’s fake punt decision, another loss to the Crimson Tide will mean his honeymoon is over. The Bulldogs will continue to plan, prepare and hope to beat Nick Saban. But in large numbers, they will no longer be sure Kirby Smart can do it.