LOS ANGELES — Don’t call it a “repeat” if/when Georgia beats TCU in the CFP Championship Game tonight at SoFi Stadium.
At least, not around Bulldogs’ coach Kirby Smart, who has built a championship culture within his elite football program at the University of Georgia.
“We’ve never said ‘repeat,’ or ‘defend,’ " Said Smart, who Bulldogs look to become the first team to repeat since the advent of the four-team College Football Playoffs in 2014.
“It’s never been about that …. We hunt, and for us, we want to be staying on the aggressive side of things.”
Georgia looks to win its second straight national football championship game when it plays TCU at 7:30 p.m. on Monday night in Inglewood, Calif.
Smart, long ago, identified complacency as the enemy of a football program. He learned lessons from his time as the defensive coordinator on the Alabama teams that repeated as national champs in 2011 and 2012.
If anyone understood how to keep a team motivated and fresh for a new challenge — another national championship run — it was Smart.
So the Georgia head coach proclaimed immediately after last year’s CFP championship game win over Alabama that these Bulldogs were not built to be a “one-hit wonder.”
It’s why Smart boldly stated he expected another championship run even after Georgia lost an NFL-record 15 players in the last draft, along with 13 transfers that included four former starters.
“This team is not that team, (and) next year’s team won’t be this year’s team,” Smart explained. “So they’re completely independent of each other, just like every game is independent of the previous.
“We don’t dwell in the rearview mirror, we try to focus on what’s ahead.”
Georgia fans can and will group the two championship game seasons together, but Smart and his players simply do not look at things that way.
The 2022 Bulldogs and 2021 Bulldogs aren’t any more similar in Smart’s estimation that Indianapolis Lucas Oil Stadium — site of last year’s game — and SoFi Stadium in the Los Angeles area.
“You think about this time last year, who we were and who we are now, it couldn’t be further from the same team,” Smart said.
“Just a very different mental makeup, physical makeup, very different path to get here.”
Smart’s reflecting was limited to his media appearances, as this matchup against TCU’s unique “Air Raid” style offense and 3-3-5 defensive alignment has required Georgia to make adjustments.
It’s all part of the story, as Smart pointed out, and the challenges this team has faced throughout the 2022 season and into the college football playoffs.
“The journey is what it’s about,” Smart said, “and these guys have done everything we’ve asked. I’ve just been so pleased with the mental makeup and the character of this team. They’ve embodied everything we’ve asked them to do.”