It was a season that will go down in the history books for not only setting the new school record for most wins in a single season (14) and even winning the first national championship since Herschel Walker lined up in the backfield, it meant a little more than all of that for Kirby Smart, or at least from an outsider's perspective.
Everyone will claim that it didn't matter who Georgia played in the national championship game on Monday night; they just wanted to win after a four-decade-long drought. "I don't care who we play, let's just win" is a lie that all Georgia fans told themselves prior to the national championship matchup. It was always going to be sweeter to beat Alabama.
Georgia defeated the proverbial "king" of College Football, Nick Saban, and his Alabama Crimson Tide. Saban, the legendary head coach just capped off his 14th season at the age of 70, Crimson Tide head coach has done it all in his career after surpassing former Alabama head coach Bear Bryant for the most national championships won by a head coach all-time after beating Ohio State in the championship game a year ago.
Saban is the owner of seven national titles, six of them at Alabama and one from his time at LSU. Along the way to several of those titles, Georgia was always a team the great Tide teams of the past would hurdle on their way to a championship. Although the matchups are lopsided in the direction of Alabama, who under the direction of Saban boasts a 7-2 versus the Bulldogs, it has provided some classics along the way.
Since Kirby Smart, the former longtime assistant coach and defensive coordinator under Saban took the head coaching job before the 2016 season in Athens, Georgia; his former employer stood in his way. Even with Smart able to provide insider knowledge of how Saban runs his program in Tuscaloosa, the legendary coach always found a way to beat his most successful protege.
A 4-0 record versus Smart helped cast a Saban-sized shadow over everything Kirby Smart did at Georgia. Monday night, Smart helped lift that shadow from off his back and the program. Of course, a 1-4 record against his former boss will not ultimately bring satisfaction. Still, it inspired faith into a fanbase that wanted two things, a national championship and a win versus Alabama for so many years.
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