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Georgia coach Kirby Smart celebrates with fans following the Bulldogs' 38-7 win over Georgia Tech.

Kirby Smart celebrated winning the SEC title with takeout from Waffle House

Cy Brown

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Winner, winner, WaHo dinner

There isn’t much doubting Kirby Smart’s Peach State bona fides. The second-year coach grew up in Bainbridge, went to college and played for Georgia and got his first coaching gig at Valdosta State. But if you did ever question whether or not Smart is truly one of your own, Georgia fans, look no further than his post-SEC Championship Game meal for your answer.

Like many of you, I’m sure, the Smart family celebrated with a meal from the South’s finest dining establishment, Waffle House. Because nothing says “Georgia” quite like celebratory Waffle House. From a great piece by Pat Forde of Yahoo:

Truth be told, the 41-year-old already had his personal celebration of this breakthrough season the night before. When the team returned from Atlanta after beating Auburn for the Southeastern Conference championship, Kirby made a quick stop at a Waffle House around 10 p.m. to pick up a to-go order. Then he got home and sank into the couch in the family room with his wife, Mary Beth, and their three children, Julia, Weston and Andrew.

All piled in together on one piece of furniture, they relived the triumph over Auburn and watched the second half of the Big Ten Championship Game. Last year at this time, at the end of Kirby’s first season as head coach at Georgia, the Smarts were living in a rented home and the Bulldogs were an uninspiring 7-5. Saturday night, in the house they had built and with an SEC title won, it was finally time to slow down and soak it in.

“My wife was just so happy,” Kirby said. “The kids were about to pass out, they were so tired, but they were excited. To have all five of us there on one couch, in our own home, it was just kind of an acknowledgement that we’re at the right place.”

Yep, Smart is as Georgia as they come. And because of that, he understands what makes Georgia fans tick. They aren’t just the people who root for the team he coaches. They’re the people he grew up around and the people who cheered him on when he was just an undersized safety from Bainbridge High. Which is why I’m not surprised to hear him  describe what this SEC title and trip to the national championship means to Georgia fans so eloquently.

“It makes it much more special, because I know the hunger of these people,” he said. “They’re starved. They’re ready to eat. They were just chomping at the bit, wanting something to hang onto. To give them something in year two, the Georgia people are so happy and proud.

“We talked a long time in the fall about being successful vs. significant. They’ve been successful here, let’s be honest. They were not downtrodden. But they were not significant, and significant is where we want to be.”

It’s a rarity that a college truly gets his team’s fanbase. But Smart gets Georgia fans, and he’s got the Waffle House receipt to prove it.

All’s well that ends well

Here’s fun story about D’Andre Swift in a piece about Jake Fromm from Ivan Maisel of ESPN.

Even if Fromm doesn’t have to throw 30 passes a game, he has to be able to run the offense. Swift, whose 64-yard touchdown run down the left side in the fourth quarter iced the victory over Auburn, said, “Every time I’m in the backfield, he tells me what I got, whether I know it or not.”

And whether Swift listens or not.

“He was supposed to go to the right,” Fromm said. “I take the ball, I get the handoff to him, and he starts taking off to the left. In my mind, I’m like, ‘What are you doing?’ That joker takes off. I look, there’s a huge hole, and he makes a move on a guy and takes off. He didn’t run it in the right spot. It doesn’t matter. The guy makes a play.”

The carousel never stops

Rumors and reports persist about Tennessee’s interest in UGA defensive coordinator Mel Tucker for its vacant head coaching gig. According to Mark Schlabach of ESPN, Tucker had his second interview with Tennessee officials Tuesday. According to Mike Griffith of SEC Country, Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables are in the lead for the job. (SMU coach Chad Morris was also among that group, but he is expected to take the Arkansas job.)

Georgia receivers coach James Coley could also be on the move this offseason. According to Schlabach, Coley is Jimbo Fisher’s top candidate for the offensive coordinator job at Texas A&M.

The coaching carousel moves fast, so by the time you’re reading this one or both coaches could have been hired or eliminated from contention for either gig. Keep an eye on DawgNation for the latest news.

UGA hoops wins again

Georgia hoops moved to 7-1 on the season with a 87-82 win over Winthrop on Tuesday night in Athens. Yante Maten was the leading scorer and picked up a double-double with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Five Bulldogs scored in double-digits.

The Dawgs are in good standing early in the season, with big wins over Saint Mary’s and Marquette that should boost their resume come tournament time. But there is still plenty of work to be done early in the season. Despite the win, coach Mark Fox was not happy about his team’s defensive display.

“If we dressed our coaches out [Tuesday,] I think we probably could have played more consistent defense,” Fox said according to Tori McElhaney of DawgNation. “The numbers we gave up, they are not good enough, and that is not going to get it done, and our players know it.”

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