Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs came within a handful of plays of a winning a national championship last season, but one national writer thinks they won’t have to wait much longer.
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach wrote Tuesday that he believes Smart will be the next FBS coach to win a national title for the first time. Given how close he came in January, that’s not exactly going out on a limb. But there are some other worthy candidates — Chip Kelly at UCLA, Willie Taggart at Florida State and Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma, to name a few.
Here’s what Schlabach had to say about Smart:
“My money would be on Georgia’s Kirby Smart. He got the Bulldogs really close last year, before losing to Alabama 26-23 in overtime in the CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T. I think Smart is Saban’s biggest threat because he knows the Alabama program so well. He’s following the same blueprint as Saban, and Georgia is so fertile when it comes to recruiting. The Bulldogs are spending money on facilities, and Smart has everything he needs in terms of resources.
“Georgia might take a small step back after losing so many players from last year, especially tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. But D’Andre Swift was fantastic as a freshman, and Elijah Holyfield looks like the real deal.”
Georgia does seem to be on the cusp of being at Alabama’s level on a consistent basis. The Bulldogs dethroned Alabama from the top of the recruiting class rankings in 2018 and UGA’s 2019 class is off to another great start.
Winning that national title this season may be too tall of an order — in addition to Chubb and Michel, the Bulldogs will have to replace No. 8 overall pick Roquan Smith in the middle of their defense. But in 2019 and beyond? It looks like everyone is betting on the Bulldogs.