Whether warranted or not, the perception entering the College Football Playoff title game between Alabama and Georgia is that the SEC is top heavy.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart doesn’t feel that way about the conference. And the way he expressed that sentiment Saturday could end up being perceived as a slight to Alabama.
“I honestly believe that the league is more equal than it’s ever been, and that’s mainly because I think maybe Alabama is not as unbeatable as they have been, and they’ve had games that were closer,” Smart said.
“You look at their margin of victory on Texas A&M and Mississippi State, I think the league is closer to even. I don’t see it as there’s just three great teams and everybody else. Every team we played, I think South Carolina was much better this year than anybody gave them credit for, Kentucky, same way, Missouri had a great finish. I respect our league.”
Smart isn’t wrong. The Tide beat both Texas A&M and Mississippi State by single digits before losing to Auburn in the Iron Bowl, giving the SEC West title to the Tigers. Smart would know how that compares to past Alabama seasons as well as anybody. He was an Alabama assistant from 2007 to 2015 before becoming the head coach at his alma mater.
Smart was later asked if Alabama is “vulnerable.” He wouldn’t go that far.
“I don’t know that they are vulnerable. I think everybody else has gotten better. I don’t think it’s like Alabama has come down to anybody’s level. I think the league is trying to catch up with them,” Smart said.
Still, the “not as unbeatable” comment is already gaining traction and could become bulletin board material for Nick Saban, who uses outside doubters — whether real or not — as motivation for his team heading into Monday night’s game in Atlanta.
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