Before Georgia head coach Kirby Smart took the podium at SEC Media Days in Atlanta, there was a cruel reminder on the television. Instead of seeing highlights of the Bulldogs’ victory in the SEC Championship Game, Smart had to relive the College Football Playoff National Championship Game loss to Alabama.
“That’s part of it, “ the 2017 SEC Coach of the Year said at the College Football Hall of Fame. “I think we embrace that as coaches. I think that’s something that you guys think about a lot, but not really us. We’re on to the next year. We are on to the new recruit. We’re on to the next strategy, whether tactical, medical or physical. We’re constantly looking for the next edge to get the next edge for next year.
“It’s something we don’t have to rehash all of the time.”
However, until a new champion is crowned at the 2019 CFP, Smart and his Georgia players will be reminded of the 26-23 overtime loss to the Crimson Tide.
It is inescapable, something they will not be able to avoid for a while, and it was naturally one of the first topics of conversation with senior wide receiver Terry Godwin and junior defensive back J.R. Reed.
Have the two Bulldogs starts watched the last play from the National Championship?
“We have watched it once or twice when we have watched film,” Godwin said. “Other than that, we try not to dwell on the past and instead look towards the future.”
“I haven’t watched it a lot,” Reed added. I have watched the whole film. I watched the game now a few times now. When it happens, it just happens. You know it is what it is. Those plays happen in football. Coach just tells us to do more.”
Yes, Georgia has watched the game. Yes, it still stings. Yes, they are all ready to move on to a promising 2018 season and have the opportunity to get back.
“Not looking back on last season, but looking forward to the future and taking on the next game. We are focused on getting better everyday and improving on what we didn’t do or didn’t have last year,” Godwin explained. “We are trying to instill in the younger players what has been instilled in us throughout the years.”
No matter what, though, the loss will still hang over them like a dark cloud.
That was Georgia’s chance to slay the SEC’s most powerful giant on the grandest stage, the highlights are still the last memory of college football, and until they get back and finish the job, the questions of what if will always circulate.
There is now also a huge amount of pressure to make a championship run again.
The opportunity to change the narrative is a few short weeks away. But for now, there is no escaping the title loss.