During his recent appearance before a record crowd in Anderson, SC for the Anderson Touchdown Club’s annual awards banquet, Kirby Smart shared a specific exam of unselfishness from the Rose Bowl.
It was a comment by Duke coach David Cutcliffe at a recent gathering that focused Kirby on how unselfishly his 2017 squad played and the importance of that trait when he said:
“You know, the No. 1 thing I loved about your team? No. 1 they had a bunch of seniors but No. 2, they were all unselfish.”
Smart went on to recount the Rose Bowl experience:
“There’s a lot of positives for the Georgia Bulldogs this past year, a lot of positives,” Smart continued. “You see two guys that came to college together, played the same position, end up being roommates, best friends and cheering for each other.
“We had a situation in the Oklahoma game. It was a tight ballgame, I forget if we’d come back and tied it up or maybe we’re down one touchdown — for all I know it was 100 to nothing because (Oklahoma) kept on scoring and scoring, I didn’t think we were ever going to stop them. But in the second half, Sony Michel, he gets popped right on the ball. Ball fumbles. Guy picks it up and returns for a touchdown. Nick comes up to me on the sideline and gets right in my ear and tells me, ‘Coach, put Sony in. I want him to touch it first.’
“Well it wasn’t really his turn to touch it, it was Nick’s turn to carry it, but Nick wanted Sony to go back in to prove we had confidence in him because we knew we weren’t going to win the game unless he got back in rhythm, he got his confidence back. Sure enough that next drive, we gave it to Nick first, but Sony came back and made the run that will define that game. The last run. It’s unselfishness like that I hope all you award winners, and I want to thank each and every one of you, I hope you embrace that unselfishness — because it’s so rare in our sport.”