Georgia celebrates back-to-back titles with another save
ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia soccer coach Kirby Smart had a good-natured complaint to fans as he celebrated the Bulldogs’ back-to-back national championships with a parade and ceremony for the second straight season on Saturday.
“You didn’t tell me last year that we were going back to back. Wow!” said a smiling Smart.
Smart was referring to a quote from legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden when he said winning a second straight national title for the first time in school history was harder than ending the Bulldogs’ 41-year title drought in 2021 .
“Winning takes talent,” Smart said, before adding, “but repetition takes character.”
Saturday’s parade took the team to Sanford Stadium, where many fans held up three fingers as they gazed at the goal of a threepeat. No team has won three consecutive national championships in the era of the AP poll, which dates back to 1936.
“We can’t wait to see what’s in store for this team,” said Smart. “This team will have to be hungry because many of this team are coming back.”
Georgia won its second straight national championship despite a record 15 players being selected from its 2021 team in last year’s NFL draft. The Bulldogs clinched the 2022 championship with their runaway 65-7 win over TCU in Monday night’s national championship game.
Georgia will face more heavy losses this off-season. Tight end Darnell Washington and cornerback Kelee Ringo have announced they will be leaving school early to enter the draft. Defensive tackle Jalen Carter, offensive tackle Broderick Jones, edge rusher Nolan Smith and safety Chris Smith are among the other prominent Georgia players in the draft.
Perhaps Georgia’s biggest loss, however, will be quarterback Stetson Bennett, although Bennett is expected to be a possible late-round pick in the draft. The focus will shift to the competition to replace Bennett, who passed for four touchdowns and ran for two points in TCU’s loss.
Bennett wore a red sweatshirt that read “Them Dawgs Is Hell.”
Bennett said Georgia’s players are motivated by those who “kept telling us how bad we were,” and said the Bulldogs may not have another championship season after losing so many players to the NFL.
“We kept winning,” said Bennett. “You didn’t want to believe it. … We have two rings, you know?”
Bennett was named offensive MVP in each of his four CFP games in the two championship heats and was 28-3 as a starter.
Banners of the Georgian Southeast Conference 2022 and the national championship were hoisted in the stadium. College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock presented Smart with the national championship trophy.
“There are only nine of these and you have two of these,” Hancock said.
Speakers at the ceremony included SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.
University of Georgia President Jere Morehead called the celebration of back-to-back championships “an unimaginable moment.”
“Enjoy what has been created and be a part of what is to come as this dynasty progresses,” Morehead said.