Georgia head coach Kirby Smart cheers on the crowd during the National Championship celebration at Stanford Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Athens, Georgia. (Steve Schaefer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart opens up on CFP Championship Game: ‘really personal’

ATHENS — Kirby Smart is constantly churning forward in his quest for football championships, so the seventh-year Georgia head coach doesn’t often take time to reflect.

Indeed, the day after the championship game in Indianapolis last month, Smart focused more on the future of UGA football and the intense recruiting and program management challenges rather than provide a look back.

RELATED: Smart says future is ‘right now’ for Georgia football, no time to celebrate title

Smart finally allowed for introspection last week, sharing details with five-time NCAA basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski that he doesn’t often delve into.

Specifically, the normally stoic Smart shared thoughts and emotions attached to leading Georgia to a CFP Championship.

RELATED: Georgia football proves elite, beats Alabama 33-18 in national title game

Smart, who was under intense pressure to deliver the Bulldogs’ first national championship in 41 years, indicated there were times he wondered when it would happen, too.

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“I guess you go through those times of doubt of not knowing,” Smart said on a satellite radio show hosted by Krzyzewski last week.

Smart’s status as a former Georgia All-SEC safety, along with his great success at Alabama as an assistant coach, gave the program the confidence and momentum it needed to put the pieces in place to win the national championship.

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Smart shared that coaching and winning a championship at his alma mater makes it that much more special for him, too.

“I think coming to my alma mater where I played and my wife played basketball, so when you get into the side of it where it’s like really personal,” Smart said. “And there was a long 41-year gap between winning the last (championship) in football.

“It just, it made it that much more special to realize that, you know, I’d won several at Alabama (as an assistant) but we had also been denied by Alabama of some opportunities.”

Smart’s affinity for Georgia, and his experiences coaching under the likes of Nick Saban, Bobby Bowden and Richt, have helped him shape an idea of how he wants his program to look and feel.

Times change and Smart will change with them, but the one thing Smart will always insist on from his players is effort and buy-in.

“Our kids always say it’s meat and potatoes at Georgia, it’s not flashy,” said Smart, who’s negotiating a salary believed to be worth approximately $100 million over 10 years.

“Your coaches sell that culture and the players buy into it, it certainly makes things positive for the players when they buy into it.”

The Bulldogs are weeks into their offseason workouts leading up to the March 15 start of spring drills, which culminated with the annual G-Day Game on April 16.

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