Alabama Football: Get ready Tide fans to give Kirby Smart his due

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

About a month from now, Alabama football fans are going to be forced to do something few of us want to do. We’re going to have to congratulate Kirby Smart as a back-to-back National Championship, winning coach.

Whatever happens to Smart in the 2023 season and beyond, he will always be acknowledged as one of college football’s top championship coaches. There have been few.

In the history of college football, going back to the Poll Era that began in 1936 and continuing through the BCS period and the CFB Playoffs, only eight college football programs have achieved back-to-back National Championships.

During the same period, college programs have repeated as National Champions just 11 times, beginning when Bernie Bierman and Minnesota did it in 1940 and 1941.

Only two programs have done it more than once. One is Nebraska in 1970 and 1971 and again in 1994 and 1995. Alabama Football is the only program to have repeated three times; twice under Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant and once under Nick Saban.

Why should Alabama football fans prepare to congratulate Kirby Smart?

The Georgia Bulldogs are two wins away from a repeat. None of the three other Playoff teams have much chance of upsetting Georgia. The Bulldogs are two to three touchdowns better than either Michigan or Ohio State. The Wolverines will easily dispense with TCU in the Fiesta Bowl Semi-Final.

There is really almost no chance Kirby can screw it up.

And when the Bulldogs hoist the trophy on the evening of Jan. 9, Smart’s achievement cannot go unacknowledged.

As Alabama fans, we can still resent Smart’s ‘big-board’ tackiness on his way out of Tuscaloosa. We can also say Kirby has only copied what he learned from Nick Saban. But for a head coach a repeat National Championship is so far beyond the milestone of being a National Championship coach that has never repeated – Kirby Smart will have earned his due.

Along with Bryant (1964,1965 and 1978, 1979) and Saban (2011, 2012), the other head coaches with repeat National Championships are Bernie Bierman, Minnesota (1940. 1941); Red Blaik, Army (1944, 1945); Frank Leahy, Notre Dame (1946, 1947); Bud Wilkinson, Oklahoma (1955, 1956); Duffy Daugherty, Michigan State (1965, 1966); Bob Devaney, Nebraska (1970, 1971); Tom Osborne, Nebraska (1994, 1995) and Pete Carroll, Southern Cal (2003, 2004). The USC 2004 championship was later vacated.

Note: Along with BCS and CFB Playoff, other credited National Champions are only those awarded by the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll. In some of the seasons listed, there were Co-Champions when the AP and Coaches poll voters disagreed.

A complete NCAA list of National Champions is available here.

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Will a repeat make the Georgia Bulldogs a dynasty? Two seasons do not a dynasty make.