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Georgia celebrates title at stadium, Smart plans repeat

January 15, 2022 GMT
Georgia coach Kirby Smart cheers on the crowd during the NCAA college football champions victory celebration at Stanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.,, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (Steve Schaefer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
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Georgia coach Kirby Smart cheers on the crowd during the NCAA college football champions victory celebration at Stanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.,, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (Steve Schaefer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
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Georgia coach Kirby Smart cheers on the crowd during the NCAA college football champions victory celebration at Stanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.,, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (Steve Schaefer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Georgia coach Kirby Smart told a near-capacity crowd at Sanford Stadium on Saturday the Bulldogs don’t plan to wait another 41 years for their next national championship.

“It’s moments and events like this that allow us to look back and allow us to look forward,” Smart said. “... We’re burning the boats, baby, and we’re coming back! Go Dogs!”

The celebration, attended by Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, followed a parade to Sanford Stadium.

Georgia finished 14-1 and No. 1 in the final AP Top 25 following its 33-18 win over Alabama in the national championship game on Monday night in Indianapolis.

“As the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, I think the four-team playoff worked pretty well this year, didn’t it?” Sankey asked, referring to efforts to expand the playoff.

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Georgia announced Friday it had no more tickets available for the celebration at the stadium, where the capacity is 92,746.

Only 10 weeks after hundreds of thousands of fans attended a two-stage parade in Atlanta to celebrate the Braves’ first World Series title since 1995, the state of Georgia witnessed another championship celebration.

Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis didn’t miss the opportunity to pay tribute to the state’s tandem of titles.

“Go Braves and go Dogs!” Davis said, before lifting his College Football Playoff hoodie to reveal a Braves jersey. Georgia fans responded with an impromptu tomahawk chop and chant used by Braves fans.

Fans lined Lumpkin Street in Athens, Georgia, for the parade to celebrate the Bulldogs’ first national championship since 1980.

Smart, wife Mary Beth and their three children took selfie photos as they stood in the back of a pickup truck at the start of the parade. Other pickups, convertibles and flatbed trucks carried Georgia players and assistant coaches on the short ride from the team’s Butts-Mehre football facility to Sanford Stadium.

Smart began looking ahead to the 2022 season immediately after Monday night’s win over Alabama. He knew he would lose some of his top players.

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On Friday, five top juniors — running back Zamir White, wide receiver George Pickens, linebacker Nakobe Dean, safety Lewis Cine, and defensive lineman Travon Walker—— announced their intentions to enter the NFL draft.

Two seniors, running back James Cook and offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer, have said they won’t return for their final year of eligibility.

Georgia is still awaiting decisions from other players. Senior quarterback Stetson Bennett, who also has a year of eligibility remaining, has said he intends to play in 2022 and has long-term plans to enter law school.

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