Georgia Bulldogs must ‘reinvent ourselves’ before pursuit of historic three-peat

Patrick Swanson / January 08,2023


LOS ANGELES — The morning after Georgia dominated TCU to cement back-to-back national championships, coach Kirby Smart said the Bulldogs will have to evolve in order to chase yet another ring.

No team has won three straight titles since the dawn of the AP Poll era, which began in 1936. The Minnesota Golden Gophers were the last team to win three in a row, starting in 1934 and capping their run in that 1936 season.

Smart was asked what it would take to do it, and he responded that it’s human nature to relax, even for him.

“Starting to think about the next one, I do think it’s going to be much tougher,” Smart said Tuesday after Georgia’s 65-7 victory on Monday night. “And I do think we’re going to have to reinvent ourselves next year because you can’t just stay the same.”

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Joined by safety Javon Bullard, the game’s defensive MVP, and tight end Brock Bowers, the trio spoke about how Georgia maintained its championship level after losing 15 players to the NFL draft in April and the transformation thereafter.

The defense was dominant during last year’s title run for the Bulldogs, but the offense took a leading role this season.

“The offense used to whup our butt,” Bullard said. “When fall camp first started, offense gave us the business.”

Bullard said he takes a lot of pride in helping restore the Dawgs to the top of the sport. Like Smart, he is a Georgia native and a former Bulldogs player.

“The word ‘dynasty,’ it’s something we’re building together,” said Bullard, who was a late substitution at Tuesday’s news conference for offensive MVP Stetson Bennett. “That was built before us, and it’s going to continue to be built after us. So we’re just trying to leave our legacy and leave this place in good hands.”

Smart compared the intensity of the Bulldogs’ practices to USA Basketball’s Dream Team for the 1992 Olympics, in that Georgia had a roster of superstars facing one another every day.

“They talked about how those two teams went at each other and [Michael] Jordan took over,” Smart said. “And it was like that in our building. … When you have that, you’ve got something special.”

Georgia has won 29 games over its dominant two-year stretch, which is tied for the most wins in that span in college football history. The Bulldogs also became just the fifth team to go 15-0 or better, and their 17-game win streak since losing in the 2021 SEC championship game is the school’s longest since a span from the 1945-47 seasons.

Work already is starting on next season, with 19 new players who started classes Monday and players making portal decisions.

Despite the back-to-back titles and despite supplanting SEC rival Alabama atop the college football world, Smart said he doesn’t want this to be their legacy.

“It’s awesome, but I don’t want their careers — I don’t want their self-worth or our program’s self-worth — to be built on just championships,” Smart said. “I get it. I get that’s what you define Joe Montana on, Tom Brady on, LeBron and Kobe and Michael Jordan on, the number of championships.

“I don’t want these young men to be defined by that. I don’t want my career to be defined by that, because I know tons of coaches and players out there that didn’t get one that had unbelievable careers.”

Smart said day-to-day success is the most important measurement.

“All I want to do is be the best I can be today,” he said. “And I want these kids to know that they need to be the best they can each and every day so they can be successful.”

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