Welcome to your one-stop shop for UGA football news and takes every Monday through Friday. Today, we look at the hype that will surround the Bulldogs at SEC Media Days and whether Georgia will be the next SEC team (besides Alabama) to win a national title.
Can Kirby Smart put it all together to foil his mentor?
SEC Media Days are underway. It’s the beginning of the end of the offseason, which means it’s time to start predicting division and conference winners. But it’s also time to ask big-picture questions: For instance, which programs from each conference are next in line to win national titles.
In the SEC, the problem is that the question of who the next national champ will be already is off the table. Pretty much everyone expects Alabama to win the SEC and compete for national titles perpetuity until one year something crazy happens and the Crimson Tide just don’t.
So, Matt Brown of Sports on Earth made the obvious next step and asked, “Who is the SEC’s next non-Alabama champion?” Brown believes that Georgia has the best chance of any non-Bama SEC team to win the title — clocking in ahead of Florida, Auburn and LSU in second, third and fourth, respectively — something he even admits is “presumptuous.”
While the jury is out on second-year coach Kirby Smart after an underwhelming debut, the ex-Georgia safety just cleaned up on the recruiting trail, locking down the state of Georgia in a massive year for in-state talent. Georgia has touted young quarterbacks, and while there is a lot of competition for Atlanta-area recruits, it is best positioned to land them with the right coach. Of course, Nick Saban assistants have fared poorly as head coaches against their mentor, but this is arguably a top-5 job, and so far, Smart has been the right recruiting fit. It’s not going to happen this year, but this program has a sky-high ceiling, provided it gets the right leadership and institutional support, giving it plenty of hope to end the national title drought before too long.
Picking the Dawgs as the next non-Bama SEC team to win a title certainly is presumptuous. Smart hasn’t proven anything yet, and Georgia never even made a national title game in the very best years of the Mark Richt era. But it isn’t necessarily a misplaced prediction.
With LSU trying to rebound after the latter years of the Les Miles tenure, Gus Malzahn on the hot seat with inconsistent results at Auburn and nobody being super-convinced by what Jim McElwain is doing in Gainesville despite two consecutive SEC East titles, Georgia has as high an upside as anyone. Probably higher. It’s just a matter of Smart putting all those factors Georgia has working in its favor together.
I don’t know if Brown’s aforementioned post falls under this category since it’s taking a bit of a longer look, but Edward Aschoff of ESPN noted that SEC Media Days will mark Georgia’s coronation as the SEC East darling.
2. Georgia becomes the East darling
Welcome to life as a head coach in the SEC, Kirby Smart. You just won eight games in your debut season and landed the nation’s No. 3 recruiting class. You have an all-world quarterback, a first-round running back and 10 returning starters on defense. You don’t have to play Alabama or LSU in the regular season, and the SEC East hasn’t exactly been the poster child for great football over the last few years (more on that later). The media will love you on paper, but don’t forget last year’s media darling in the East.
The best players Georgia will face this season
If you missed any of the position-by position rankings of the best players Georgia will face in 2017, you can check them out below. And examine this ranking of the top 10 players, regardless of position, the Bulldogs will square off against this season.