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Georgia Football

Paul Finebaum: Georgia Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart's Critics are “Lazy”

July 24, 2021

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“Lazy” or “intellectually dishonest” - that’s the way the SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum describes Kirby Smart critics who say 2021 is make-or-break for the sixth-year head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs

“If Kirby Smart doesn’t win the national championship here, so what?” Finebaum told Dawg Post at 2021 SEC Football Media Days a day before the college football world exploded with the news that Oklahoma and Texas were likely bolting for the SEC

The answer to “so what” is that there will be disgruntled fans, important or not, and another season with a top 5 program that didn’t end with the big prize. But according to the longtime SEC commentator, Smart and company have accomplished everything besides a national title in his first five seasons as head coach, which included wins in the Peach, Sugar and Rose Bowls. 

“When you’ve done as good a job as Kirby Smart, you don’t have make-or-break years. I think the people that say that are either lazy or intellectually dishonest,” Finebaum said.  “I’ve heard it. I don’t want to act like I just got dropped in from Jeff Bezos’ spaceship here, but it is just absurd to say that.”

Not only did Finebaum downplay expectations for the Dawgs in 2021, he also shrugged off the importance of beating Clemson. 

“I think the Clemson game is an opportunity for Georgia,” he said. “I don’t think it is do or die. I think the game is bigger for Clemson than it is for Georgia, but the game is a toss up.”

The season opener against the Tigers very well could be the most challenging game of the season for the Bulldogs until a potential SEC Championship matchup with Alabama - something the media voted was likely to happen last week at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala.

Finebaum went on to say that Charlotte is “a Clemson town”, which is probably hyperbolic considering the power of the Tar Heels in their home state. But there is not a closer football power to that growing metro area than Dabo Swinney’s program. Even in acknowledging that Clemson has a geographic advantage in the contest, Finebaum does not think that will boost the Tigers in a significant way:

“People will smirk when I say this, but the reason why Clemson is favored is because it is a home game. People say, ‘Well how can you say that? Charlotte is a neutral site.’ Well, no, it’s not. I live there, and it’s a Clemson town. Now does that really matter? No. It doesn’t make a big difference, but they’ve got more of an advantage. I think it’s an even game, and Clemson is a slight favorite because of the proximity. Their drive is shorter. Whether they’ll have more fans is irrelevant, but it is a stadium they play in every year. They know the place. They’ve been there, so I think that helps them slightly.”

The game has been scheduled for some time now, and the build up to the first Saturday in September is sure to grow over the next few weeks for Finebaum and his program on the SEC Network. 

With extended time to talk and debate, the same question is repeatedly uttered by fans and the media: Will Georgia beat Clemson? 

As usual Finebaum has weighed in. 

“I think Georgia is going to win the game,” he said. “When I heard (George) Pickens was out, I immediately thought: ‘Well, you can’t beat Clemson.’” 

But the offseason has seen an influx of talent for the Bulldogs - namely former LSU TE Arik Gilbert, former West Virginia DB and All-American Tykee Smith and perhaps most notably for this contest - former Clemson DB and All-ACC selection Derion Kendrick

“A lot has changed since then,” Finebaum said of the last four months. “I think that Georgia is in great shape.”

Finebaum added that he hopes to see George Pickens return to the Bulldogs, but noted that Georgia will probably be just fine with or without him. 

“If he can play at the back end of the season, great, but there is enormous talent there,” he said.


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