This is an admirable goal, but it’s also a two-edged sword.
How long might Bulldog fans have to wait before there’s a January national championship celebration on the same field?
Clemson and Alabama have soaked in College Football Playoff titles with their fans each of the last four seasons. It was the Tigers in 2016 and 2018 and the Crimson Tide in 2015 and 2017.
Georgia, under Smart, is knocking on the door but can it make it more than a two-team fight for supremacy?
“We want to win the national championship,” junior left tackle Andrew Thomas said. “Anything below that we’re not satisfied with.”
In his very next paragraph, Marc Weiszer points to the last Sugar Bowl as the downside of that mindset.
Smart is very careful about avoiding that trap.
“I don’t view success and failure just on that,” he said. “Here’s what we’re focused on—how good can we be tomorrow? Can we be the best we can? Do they have expectations at Georgia? Absolutely they’ve got expectations and we’ve got them for ourselves, but I’m not going to measure success and failure on one thing.
“That’s not fair to these kids who give everything they’ve got to the program, the blood, sweat and tears and all of the people in the organization who give everything they’ve got to measure success and failure on one thing. I’m not going to do that. You guys (the media) may do it, fans may do it. Everybody has their right when it comes to that.”
But can he get his players to buy into that? I’d like to think that the Sugar Bowl makes for a convincing lesson in that regard, but let’s face it, this is uncharted territory for a Georgia team that is likely going to have to find a way to surpass Alabama for a full sixty minutes in order to take that next step.