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Georgia using everything at its disposal to maintain winning culture

Jan 8, 2023; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart during the 2023 CFP National Championship head coaches press conference at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As the saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Just ask Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart.

Smart and the Bulldogs are set to play in the College Football Playoff championship game for the second time in as many years — a feat that wouldn’t be possible without players, coaches and an entire university buying into the program and its ideals.

“It doesn’t start when the season starts. It starts Tuesday when the season ends. And it just continues,” Smart said about the program’s culture. “I don’t know that you can relax and just say, OK, we’re going to be fine. You have to make it happen. And I think each and every year you have a different team. Obviously, recruiting plays a part of that. If you don’t have good players, you’ve got no chance.

“But a big part of that is the organization that I’ve been given the ability to hire at University of Georgia. They are second to none, my administration, of supporting us, bringing in analysts, bringing in coaches, having the nice facilities.”

Having the tools to succeed is only one variable in the equation, though, as Smart has also put an emphasis on establishing relationships within the locker room. That strategy helped Georgia (14-0) win the national championship last season, and the Bulldogs are hoping for similar results in Inglewood, Calif., on Monday against TCU (13-1).

“At the end of the day, you better have buy-in with your players,” Smart said. “And I think the older I’ve gotten, the more I acknowledge the relationship with the player matters much more than maybe the play you call, than maybe the practice habit you create, or anything else.”

With all of the success that Georgia has had bridging the past two seasons, the Bulldogs find themselves with a target on their backs.

Perhaps no team is more eager to take aim at the defending champs than the Horned Frogs. TCU had seemingly been written off before the season even started and was predicted to finish seventh in the Big 12.

It’s now the only team from the conference still standing.

It’s been a Cinderella-story-like run for the Horned Frogs, and there’s a chance that the final chapter ends up being an upset of the top team in the nation. But for Smart, he’s more focused on the fact that there’s simply a “chance.”

“We’ve had a saying around our place for a long time that probability is not reality,” Smart said. “So we don’t control what people say and probability. Reality is what happens on the field in between those lines. That’s what takes a lot more courage than just putting out probability.”

Smart also hasn’t been one to get caught up in the chatter surrounding Monday’s matchup.

“I don’t get to watch much TV or social media,” Smart said. “I just worry about our team and don’t get caught up in anything outside of that.”

Regardless of what happens on the field on Monday, Smart knows that if the Bulldogs can maintain their current culture, they’ll set themselves up for success for years to come.

“It’s will those players play hard for each other, and do they believe in their coaching staff, that their coaching staff cares for them,” Smart said. “And that allows you to sustain.”

–Field Level Media