Kirby Smart didn’t hold back when asked if his Georgia team, coming off another heartbreaking loss to Alabama, deserved a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff.
Despite losing 35-28 to Alabama moments earlier, Smart said the Crimson Tide wouldn’t want to see his Bulldogs again in the playoff. It was the crux of his pitch on why a two-loss Georgia team deserved to be in.
“Well, it boils down to one thing,” Smart said. “Do you want the best four teams in or not? It’s that simple. They sat at home last year and got to go in the game when everybody else was beating each other up, and they had a good football team. Give that coach across the sideline a vote who he doesn’t want to play. He’ll start with us. I promise you, he don’t want to play us. It’s their decision but you’re going to put the four best teams in.”
Saban actually agreed with his former protege. After battling it out with Georgia in a game that looked like it wasn’t going to go Alabama’s way — not all that dissimilar to the national championship game a year before — Saban would like to avoid Smart’s Bulldogs going forward.
“Based on the teams that we’ve played this year, i think this team deserves to be in the playoff, as well,” Saban said. “I sure as hell don’t want to play them again, but that’s the best compliment i can give you or give them.”
Georgia had a 28-14 lead early in the second half and thoroughly disrupted a hobbled Tua Tagovailoa who sprained his ankle in the first half according to Saban. But the Bulldogs couldn’t hold off a Jalen Hurts comeback effort that saw the Crimson Tide score 21 straight points to end the game.
One of Smart’s boldest decisions was opting for a fake punt on 4th-and-11 from the 50-yard line with the game tied and a little more than three minutes remaining in the game. The gutsy call blew up in Smart’s face when Justin Fields wasn’t able to convert the attempt. Alabama promptly marched down the field for a game-winning Hurts 15-yard touchdown run but Smart defended the decision after the game.
“I felt like that was a great call because it was there,” Smart said. “We’ve seen their safe. We know exactly what their safe is. They line up and they don’t cover a guy. We’ve got a guy wide open, and he’s not going to be covered. But in the last second they saw it. And we had a way to check out of it, but we took too long to get it snapped, and I felt like it was a really good play. It was there.”