Kirby Smart is forever linked to the titans of college football with another chance against Bama in Atlanta to heighten the narrative

Home >

Kirby Smart is forever linked to the titans of college football with another chance against Bama in Atlanta to heighten the narrative

Jeff Dantzler
Jeff Dantzler

Kirby Smart’s list of accomplishments the last seven seasons is one of the most impressive resumes for a head coach over such a period in the annals of collegiate football. The back-to-back national championships, long winning streaks and record against arch rivals tops a sterling list of accolades for the University of Georgia football program under the watch of this favorite native son.

He’s taken Georgia from blue blood to the mountaintop as a college football national powerhouse. Bulldog dreams come true.





When it comes to records and milestones, there are different views and slants on how to judge just how impressive they may be. The standard that perhaps paints the grandest picture of remarkable accomplishments is the company being kept.

With the back-to-back national championships, Georgia is on an elite list with college football royalty the likes of Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Alabama, Nebraska and Southern Cal. Smart is now forever linked with coaching titans including Knute Rockne, Bear Bryant, Frank Leahy, Bud Wilkinson, Howard Jones, Tom Osborne and Nick Saban.

Coach King Kirby Smart, as he’s affectionately known on the airwaves to the DawgTalk and Bulldog Brunch Hilltop Grille broadcast crew, has chartered new waters, leading his beloved alma mater to the Southeastern Conference Championship Game for the sixth time in a seven year period.





That is a feat that had previously never been done.


Not by Steve Spurrier, not by Nick Saban, not by Phil Fulmer, not by Gene Stallings, not by Urban Meyer, not by Mark Richt.


Until Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs punched the ticket this year.

Spurrier led Florida to the first five SEC Championship Games, but Fulmer’s Volunteers went to the next two, and three out of four. Stallings took Alabama to four out of the first five. Meyer and Richt both had runs of three trips in a four season period. Saban guided Alabama to Atlanta five of seven years from 2012 through 2018, winning all five appearances – the bookends most painfully memorable to the Georgia faithful… Double ouch. They didn’t make it in 2017, but, well, you know the rest.

All time ouch.

Marking Georgia’s accomplishments under Smart’s leadership all the more astonishing is that on all six trips since 2017, the Bulldogs have arrived in Atlanta sporting a regular season record of 11-1 or 12-0, with a shot at the College Football Playoff on the line.

Georgia beat Auburn for the 2017 SEC Championship and earned a berth in the College Football Playoff, beating Oklahoma 54-48 in the Rose Bowl for the Ages … before the heartbreak in Atlanta. The win over the Tigers at Mercedes Benz Stadium was the first of Smart’s immaculate in-season vengeance victories. Auburn had pummeled Georgia 40-17 on the Plains three weeks earlier.

Top-ranked Alabama rallied for a 35-28 come from behind win over the No. 4 Bulldogs in the 2018 SEC Championship Game, and Georgia fell to No. 5 in the final playoff poll.

A year later, powerhouse, top-ranked LSU beat No. 4 Georgia 37-10 and the Bulldogs again fell to No. 5.

Back-to-back years, the first team out. Georgia – and the league, at least as far as getting multiple teams in the four team playoff – would have been better off those years if there was no SEC Championship Game.

No. 1 Georgia, after missing out in 2020, returned to the SEC Championship Game in 2021. The Bulldogs lost to Alabama, but garnered the No. 3 seed in the College Football Playoff, beating Michigan 34-11 in the Orange Bowl and then securing that oh so precious national championship, with the second of the iconic vengeance victories, topping the Crimson Tide 33-18 in Indianapolis in the National Championship Game.

Last season, the top-ranked Bulldogs, with a playoff berth virtually guaranteed, outgunned LSU 50-30, earning the top seed in the CFP. The victory over the Tigers also clinched Georgia’s 14th all-time SEC title. That’s the second most in league history. Alabama has the most SEC titles with 29. Tennessee has 13, LSU has won 12. You can do the math on that. Even though Georgia would have still made the playoff, likely as the two seed, had the Bulldogs fallen to the Bayou Bengals, then Georgia, LSU and Tennessee would all have 13 SEC crowns.

That’s a nice Bulldog point of pride.

An unforgettable 42-41 instant classic victory over Ohio State less than a month later in the very same Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, then shattered every modern margin of victory sporting record for a game of such magnitude in a 65-7 trouncing of TCU for a second consecutive national championship.

When the Bulldogs bested Alabama for the 2021 national championship at the now sacred site known as Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, Georgia slayed two dragons with one mighty sword. After 41 years, that elusive national title. And Bama.

Last year, the Bulldogs went three-for-three in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, blowing away Oregon 49-3 in the season opener prior to the back to back victories over LSU and Ohio State in Atlanta. Finally, some good mojo in Atlanta.

Now the chips are on the line again.

Of all the accomplishments for Smart’s Bulldogs, beating Alabama in Atlanta remains on the to-do list.

What Alabama has done under Saban’s watch since his second season of 2008 is incredible. What Georgia has done since Smart’s second season home in 2017 is amazing.

National championships, SEC titles and major bowl victories galore.

We all know what awaits the winner.

And both are hungry for more.

Knute Rockne and Bear Bryant are widely considered major college football’s most iconic coaches, with Saban the best of the 21st century. Smart is on the fast track of that path. And like “The Bear,” he’s doing it at home.


A win by the Bulldogs on Saturday would mark yet another milestone on a trajectory to perhaps one day, Kirby Smart being renowned as the greatest college football coach of all time.





share content