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Jumbo Package: National Championship Gump Day

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Coaches hold their Monday press conferences.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Sugar Bowl - CFP Semifinal - Alabama v Clemson

Please stop running this play with this personnel? Thanks

Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The turnaround for the CFP championship is a bit much: after a month-long layoff, teams are expected to knock the rust off, play a physical game against elite competition, fly back across the country late, and then begin to prepare the following day to do it all over again. He cited Georgia’s difficulty in playing such a grueling game and then having a 7- or 8-hour flight back to Athens. Alabama has been luckier than UGA, but the point is a good one: The networks can give the schools a day or two of travel time without cutting into their recovery. Last year the teams had nine days. This season, that has been pared down to just one calendar week.

Will Kirby’s familiarity with Saban help Georgia’s staff? Coach Smart’s remarks didn’t really suggest that:

-- Does Smart think he has an advantage because he's been on Saban's staff and knows his tendencies? "Yeah, I don't know that it's an advantage," Smart said. "You know, his tendencies and his strengths are recruiting really good players that are really big and really fast, and then you have to block them, okay, or you have to be able to run the ball against them or you have to be able to defend the wide-outs and the corner -- it comes down to a lot more than his tendencies because his tendencies are very similar to a lot of good coaches: Smart, good decisions, protect the ball, play great defense, kick your butt on special teams."

Crazy Tony gonna’ Crazy Tony

Is it too early to talk about Clemson-Alabama Round IV? As Dabo said, “ain’t nobody fixin’ to die...we’ll have more of these.” You can see it coming too, can’t you? And it would be extraordinary:

If these two teams do meet for a fourth time in a bowl game, they would be making history. No teams have ever met four consecutive years in the postseason. As it is, this marks just the second time two teams have played each other in three consecutive years (USC and Ohio State met in the Rose Bowl every year from 1972 to '74).

Who knew that Stephen A. Smith would say the reasonable thing here? It doesn’t matter where the two best teams reside, if Georgia and Alabama earn their way, then we need to embrace it. That’s what the playoffs were meant to provide.

Expect to read a lot of these stories: Kirby Smart as the new Nick Saban and Georgia as the new Alabama. There is no doubt Kirby Smart has done a very good job with Georgia this season, and he was no ordinary Saban coordinator who landed a job either. But Smart walked into a roster that could already compete for a national title, at a school with the money and institutional support to succeed, in a conference with the television cache and rep to make sure his ‘Dawgs got a lot of eyeballs. He’s not had to build or rebuild anything, merely continue the steady 10-win excellence of his predecessor. I’m not hating here; I’m saying that with UGA’s veteran talent, in a down SEC, with that marquee road game at Notre Dame to capture attention, Mark Richt would have had this team in the playoffs too. Let’s see how Smart develops the talent he’s brought in and how he responds in big games for a few years before we speculate — let him be his own coach and, if we make any comparison, let it be the right one: not to Saban, but to the guy Kirby replaced.

Kirby has a tall task in front of him though. Aside from the physical hangover, it’s going to require yeoman’s work to keep the ‘Dawgs in the right mindset after such an emotional win — not too high, not too low:

"Our team is really excited," Smart said Tuesday afternoon. "A very emotional game last night, which concerns me, and talked to the players immediately afterwards about not burning any more energy or emotion on that game and moving on. You know, Alabama had a little more sound victory, so they probably didn't burn quite as much emotion, although I know it was emotional to beat a team that beat them last year."

In fairness, Alabama’s staff has an equally tough job. Beating Clemson was a year’s motivation in the execution, but it is not the final goal.

Linebacker Rashaan Evans, cornerbacks Anthony Averett and Levi Wallace, defensive end Da'Shawn Hand and punter JK Scott will all play in the game. Linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton will also be in Mobile, Ala., to meet with NFL teams while recovering from a season-ending knee injury.

Hamilton will participate in the evaluation process, but will not be practicing or playing. I’m really rooting for that guy.

Looking to go the game? A lot of ‘Bama fans skipped the Sugar Bowl to save money for this one. Turns out, with UGA playing in their home state (against another SEC team, no less) it’s not be possible for many people anywhere to afford. The cheapest ticket sold on the secondary market has clocked in at $1314. The median ticket is going for over $5000. And, there are some super premium spots seeing as much as $100,000...per ticket. I’m going — but only via corporate largess; I personally could never justify a house’s-worth of cash for one football game, even if I could ever afford it. And, despite the rumors floating around out there, we don’t exactly rake it in here at RBR (which is why you get no refunds).

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Angry midmajor schedules two FCS teams, goes undefeated, and then demands national title? People have long told me that UCF people are the worst: I’m beginning to believe them.

UCF can say what it will, the fact exists that its signature win is over a 4-loss OOC team by a touchdown on a neutral field: In the Power 5 they’d play 7-8 of those games, plus an elite OOC foe; and, of course, they’d have to win all of them or damn-near most of them to even sniff the playoffs. Great season UCF. Good wins this year over Memphis and Auburn. But that’s not a national title resume. Enjoy your season and throw a parade. Be proud, not confused. (And you should ignore the fact the simulations predict that any team in the playoffs or even Ohio State would have murdered you.)

I really wish I could give you a link or media file chock full of great Saban quotes from the presser yesterday. That simply does not exist. It was the driest conference he’s held in a long while: UGA’s great, maybe the best in the nation; Jake Fromm’s great, we tried to sign him; Tony Brown is improving, he just has to keep his head right; Jalen hurts moved the offense well but needs work; it’s not about me, it’s about the players. Yadda Yadda Yadda. You could get out some scratch paper and predict what this is going to say before you read it, but here you go.