DESTIN, Fla. — This should come as a shock to nobody: Kirby Smart did not warmly embrace talk from one of his division rivals about how good Georgia will be this season.
Earlier on Tuesday, Tennessee coach Butch Jones talked up Georgia as not only one of the SEC East’s best teams, but one of the best in the conference.
So about an hour later, Georgia coach Kirby Smart – after hustling in from the airport, late because of a rental car problem – was asked what he thought about Jones saying that.
“Well, since Butch came to none of our spring practices I don’t know how he’d be able to say that,” Smart said.
Tennessee is likely to be the SEC East favorite when the season begins, returning quarterback Joshua Dobbs and many other starters from a 9-4 team. Georgia actually finished with a better record (10-3), but lost to Tennessee, endured a coaching change, and may be starting a freshman quarterback.
One of the teams that beat Tennessee last year: Alabama, whose defensive coordinator was Smart.
“I do have a lot of respect for the way they play at Tennessee,” Smart said. “They’ve got a really good program, and they do a good job of making their kids play hard. You know last year at Alabama I thought that was probably the most physical team we played. They came out and really played hard. So I’ve got a lot of respect for what they do. …
“But as far as his consideration for us, that’s his opinion.”