Kirby Smart is entering his second season at Georgia, and Paul Finebaum already thinks the young head coach will be one of the next men to win a national championship for the first time.
Following Bob Stoops retirement, there are now only four active FBS head coaches who have won a national title: Alabama’s Nick Saban, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney. So USA Today’s Paul Myerberg ranked the head coaches most likely to join that club next.
Smart came in at No. 10 in Myerberg’s rankings. But he’s one of the top two choices for Finebaum, along with new Texas head coach Tom Herman.
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) June 13, 2017
Myerberg has Smart’s predecessor, Miami (FL) head coach Mark Richt, ahead of Smart. But Finebaum apparently likes the current Georgia coach’s chances better.
These rankings aren’t predicting a national title for any of these coaches this year. There’s a real chance that one of the head coaches to already win a championship (like Saban or Meyer) wins another in 2017.
But it speaks to the perception of Smart–and Georgia’s program overall–that he’s included with coaches with much longer resumes.
Finebaum isn’t the first person this offseason to hype Georgia as a future title contender. Pro Football Focus’ Gordon McGuinness said earlier this year that the Bulldogs could even make a national title run in 2017.
Georgia opens the season at home against Appalachian State on Sept. 2. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. ET on ESPN.