Kirby Smart Won’t Beat Nick Saban on Saturday…But Not For The Reasons One Might Expect
I think Alabama has clinched a spot in the College Football Playoff. I don’t think that’s a hot take, and I also don’t think it has anything to do with Georgia. Bama could beat Georgia by a ton and get in. Bama could barely beat Georgia and get in. Bama could lose by a small margin and get in. Bama could lose by a billion and get in. Honestly, that’s not a gripe. Alabama is undoubtedly one of the four best teams in the country. They’re favored by way too big of a margin against Georgia. They’d be rightfully favored against everyone in contention even if they got blown out be Georgia.
It also goes without saying that if Georgia, currently #4 in the College Football Playoff Rankings, beats the top-ranked team in the country during the last week of play, the Bulldogs will be in the playoff. At that point, the Bulldogs would be favored against whoever they draw (likely Notre Dame in a #2 vs. #3 matchup).
If/when that comes to pass, Georgia and Alabama will be on a crash course for a re-match with Alabama seeking revenge. But Kirby Smart isn’t going to let that happen.
I re-watched the national championship game last night and it’s as painful as it was in January. Georgia lost the game in truly unique fashion. It’s not as simple as “Tua came in and did magic things.” It’s not as simple as “Tyler Simmons was onsides.” There were freak plays (the Fromm pick on the first drive wouldn’t happen again if he threw the same ball nine more times; the Raekwon Davis interception off a helmet was one-in-a-thousand), missed calls (not just the Simmons thing but also a flagrant face mask missed on the ensuing drive, etc.), atypical blown coverages (Malkom Parrish is noted for being beat on the game’s final play, but he was beat several times—including Tua’s first TD pass—despite a stellar career in Georgia’s defensive backfield).
It hurt. Bad.
Kirby isn’t going to let that happen again. There is no way he’s going to lose to Bama in the National Championship two years in a row. He won’t do that to Georgia. He won’t do that to his players, his coaches or the program’s fans. He just won’t.
But he’s also not going to end Nick Saban’s career, and beating his former mentor twice in a matter of six-and-a-half weeks would surely be the end of Saban’s career. It might literally KILL Nick Saban to lose twice to the same team on such little turnaround. And I don’t think Kirby Smart wants Saban dead. At least not yet.
So if he can’t rip out the hearts of Georgia fans in the National Championship Game and he can’t let Saban die on the field, his only other option will be to lose to Notre Dame. That’s obviously not an option because Notre Dame is still Notre Dame dammit. That would make the entire SEC look bad.
So there’s really only one option: Kirby has to remove himself from the situation as a whole. And the only way to avoid this whole godforsaken scenario is to lose to Alabama on Saturday in the SEC Championship Game.
If—and this is a big if—Georgia loses to Alabama this weekend, it’s because Kirby did the noble thing. He refused to decapitate his washed up mentor. He refused to let the conference down. He refused to break his alma mater’s heart. If Georgia loses Saturday, it’s because Kirby says, “This is more than a game, and there’s always next year.”
And what’s more Georgia than that?
That’s all I got/