ATLANTA — Kirby Smart flicked on EPSN one morning recently to tune into Mike Greenberg’s new show, “Get Up!”
And there it was, the second-and-26 play that gave Alabama a win over Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs in the National Championship in Atlanta a season ago. Smart sees the play and highlights from the game every now and then, but it doesn’t haunt him.
“We watched it and evaluated it as a staff afterwards. Obviously, I see it on replays and different ESPN highlights,” Smart said Tuesday at SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame. “I thought (Greenberg’s show) might open with the SEC Championship, but of course not. That's part of it. I think we embrace that as coaches. I think that's something that (the media) thinks about a lot, but not really us.”
Smart and Bulldogs players were asked about that loss many times at media day, and each answer fell in line with a theme: The Bulldogs are ready to move on.
“We're on to the next year. We are on to the new recruit. We're on to the next strategy, whether tactical, medical or physical,” Smart said. “We're constantly looking for the next edge to get the next edge for next year. It's something we don't have to rehash all of the time.”
Senior wide receiver Terry Godwin says he’s watched the play --- where Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa tossed a 41-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith --- once or twice. Junior defensive back J.R. Reed says he hasn’t watched it a lot.
“We try not to dwell on the past and instead look towards the future,” Godwin said.
Nick Saban could coach into his 70s
The only person to coach in the SEC at age 70 is the Old Head Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, who coached his last season at the University of South Carolina at that age. But in a few years, Alabama’s Nick Saban could join him in that club. Coming off his sixth National Championship --- his fifth with the Crimson Tide --- Saban will turn 67 on Halloween. And he doesn’t plan to stop coaching anytime soon, especially if his wife has anything to say about it.
“Mrs. Terry does not want me at home. I can tell you that. She doesn't care if I'm 60, 70 or 80. She's looking for something for me to do,” Saban said Wednesday. “I really enjoy what I'm doing right now, and as long as I'm healthy and I can do it, I'm going to continue to do it and not worry about any numbers or what my age is or anything like that. But I would not want to be in the position where I ever rode the program down because I wasn't capable of making a contribution that would be positive to the success of the program.”
Saban added that his “noon-time” basketball team was undefeated again this season, an indicator to him that his health is in good shape.
Pruitt praises Callaway, a Warner Robins native
A native of middle Georgia could have a big role in Tennessee’s offense this season. Junior wideout Marquez Callaway is coming off a sophomore season for the Volunteers where he hauled in 24 catches for 406 yards and five touchdowns. First-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt sees Callaway being key to Tennessee’s success on offense.
“I think if you're going to be good on offense, you better have guys that are hard to guard on the perimeter. Either they can take the top off or they're big power forward guys,” Pruitt said. “I think Marquez gives that element of a guy that can play with speed or he can play with power. We're excited about seeing what he can do this fall.”
Bama loses linebacker to baseball
Saban said that redshirt senior linebacker Keith Holcombe is leaving the football program to focus on baseball. Holcombe, a Tuscaloosa native, made one start last year, but provided depth on the defense and special teams. He tallied 38 tackles. On the diamond, he was third on the Crimson Tide in hits (51) and batting average (.290).
Georgia fans: Expect Tiger Stadium to be loud
The Georgia Bulldogs have not been to Death Valley in a decade. The last time the Dawgs made the trip to Baton Rouge was in 2008, when Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno led them to a 52-38 victory. In case some Georgia fans forgot how hostile of an environment Tiger Stadium can be, LSU coach Ed Orgeron is here to remind them.
“Kirby did a great job with the Georgia Bulldogs, tremendous team, tremendous recruiting classes. They're going to be a very tough opponent to play,” Orgeron said Monday. “But that night Tiger Stadium is going to be alive. It's going to be loud. There will be a lot of tailgating. Should be a great college matchup in the SEC.”
No starter named at QB yet for Saban
Alabama has not named its starting quarterback yet. For much of last season, Jalen Hurts was the man under center, but it was Tua Tagovailoa who led Alabama to a win in the National Championship. When asked if Hurts will be on the roster by the season opener, Saban said: “Well, I have no idea. I expect him to be there. I think it's our job to give both players a very fair opportunity to have a chance to win the team at their position.”