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HUBBARD: ‘Next year’ finally arrives
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart celebrates after the College Football Playoff championship football game against Alabama Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, in Indianapolis. Georgia won 33-18. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) - photo by Associated Press

Growing up being a Georgia Tech fan surrounded by numerous Georgia fans, I’ve constantly heard the phrase: “next year is our year.” 

I would always sarcastically respond, “next year seems to always be a year away.” 

Well, that’s not the case anymore for the Bulldog faithful. “Next year” finally came around, and Georgia is the 2022 College Football National Champions. 

But, the championship run didn’t come about easy for Georgia by any means. 

It’s been 41 years since the Bulldogs last hoisted a national championship trophy and were the kings of the college football world. Since then, they have endured many excruciating losses. 

“Second and 26,” “Chris Conley catching the ball” and other phrases have become way too familiar for Georgia fans the last few years, in particular. 

With those defeats, Georgia and its fans had to wait a long time for what transpired Monday night. 

Now, that wait is over. 

The Bulldogs topped Alabama 33-18 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

Georgia’s win came just 37 days after that same Alabama team seemed to have exposed the Bulldogs by defeating them 41-24 in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. Stetson Bennett, already highly scrutinized by many members of the fanbase, had many costly errors in the game as well. 

Following that game, many skeptics, including myself and maybe many people reading this right now, were asking the question: If not now, then when? 

Going into that SEC Championship matchup, Georgia had the No. 1 defense allowing less than a touchdown per game in the regular season. That included three shutout victories. 

The highest point total allowed was at Tennessee on Nov. 13 when the Volunteers managed to score 17 points. 

Their offense was scoring an average 41 points on top of that beating their opponents by an average of nearly 34 points. 

So, there were many questions surrounding the Bulldogs football team as to whether they could finally get over the hump and win a national championship again. 

Monday night, all those questions were answered. 

The Bulldogs defeated the Crimson Tide for the first time since 2007, and it was the first time ever to beat Nick Saban. Georgia’s criticized quarterback even led the way for the team in the fourth quarter finishing 4-for-4 for 83 yards and two touchdowns. 

As a result, Georgia pulled away from Alabama and there was no doubt, the Bulldogs ended a long, excruciating stretch of their history, finally beat a Saban-led team and silenced all the doubters about whether this year was, in fact, their year.

Phillip B. Hubbard is sports editor for The Covington News. Reach him at