Georgia became the first repeat champion of the College Football Playoff era with Monday night's 65-7 thrashing of TCU at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, setting a record for the largest margin of victory in any title game, playoff game or bowl game.
This time next year, Kirby Smart's Bulldogs really could be making some history.
Since the implementation of the Associated Press poll in 1936, there are now 12 instances of teams claiming consecutive crowns, with Alabama having achieved it on three separate occasions -- twice under Bear Bryant (1964-65 and 1978-79) and once under Nick Saban (2011-12).
No school has won three straight AP national championships, and Georgia is expected to start the 2023 season as the decided No. 1 pick.
"The biggest challenge we will face is the same as in the world and society that we live in today, and that's entitlement," Smart said during a news conference early Tuesday morning. "The minute you think you're entitled to winning games and you don't have to work hard, it becomes an uphill battle, because those guys will think that you just inherit success.
"I personally think next year is going to be a much more difficult challenge over this year because we had so many guys leaving last year. We've got a lot of guys coming back, but unfortunately this one right here is not."
Smart was sitting alongside sixth-year senior quarterback Stetson Bennett IV, who was Monday night's offensive MVP after torching the Horned Frogs for 18-of-25 passing for 304 yards and four touchdowns and rushing three times for 39 yards and two scores. Bennett wound up throwing for 4,127 yards in Georgia's 15-0 season, breaking the single-season mark of 3,893 set by Aaron Murray in 2012.
The 25-year-old Bennett idolized David Greene and D.J. Shockley when they led the Bulldogs to Southeastern Conference championships, but he helped take the program to national glory. Bennett was asked early Tuesday morning if he's the best Georgia quarterback ever.
"We brought back pretty much the entire core of our offense from last year, so we were all clicking," Bennett said. "We had a really good offense. It makes me proud of what I've accomplished when I hear that because it means I've done some things right, but I don't know if it's accurate or not.
"I grew up watching Murray and (Matthew) Stafford and Shock and Greene, and who's to say? Those dudes were all amazing."
One obvious key to Georgia's 2023 success is Smart and offensive coordinator Todd Monken finding that next "dude." Whoever fills Bennett's void will find instant leadership and productivity in tight end Brock Bowers and receiver Ladd McConkey, who combined on 12 catches for 240 yards and three touchdowns Monday night.
"We've got some good quarterbacks in there," Smart said. "We've got one who took his black jersey off and took hits all week so he could be (TCU's) Max (Duggan). Gunner Stockton said, 'Coach, take my shirt off. I'll take the hits.' Brock Vandagriff has been learning all year, and Carson Beck got a lot of playing time and has a lot of composure to come back and be able to play.
"Those three guys will get to battle it out, and they'll learn a lot."
Georgia's players have until next Monday to declare early for the NFL draft, with junior defensive tackle Jalen Carter wasting no time on that front. Just a couple hours after the game, Carter went on social media to thank Bulldogs fans and to state, "My dream since childhood is to play in the NFL."
"We'll lose some really talented guys, and we'll probably lose some juniors," Smart said, "but the disease that creeps into your program is called entitlement, and I've seen it firsthand. If you can stomp it out with leadership, then you can stay hungry.
"We have a saying around our place that, 'We eat off the floor.' If you're willing to eat off the floor, you can be special."
Smart was Alabama's defensive coordinator under Saban and played a prominent part in national championship runs in the 2009, 2011-12 and 2015 seasons.
Only the 2009 Crimson Tide went undefeated out of those four, and Monday marked Georgia's first team without a blemish since the 1980 national championship. Last year's title team defeated Alabama in Indianapolis after losing to the Tide several weeks earlier in the SEC title game.
"This team is special because they didn't have a flaw," Smart said. "They had two games in which they came back in the fourth quarter -- Missouri and Ohio State -- with incredible comebacks led by Stetson and the offense. There's a part of me that thinks that if our team last year played this year's team, last year's team probably had more talent on it, but this year's team was different.
"They just had this eye of the tiger. They weren't going to lose."
Bowers said at Tuesday afternoon's final CFP media session that former players such as Nakobe Dean, Sony Michel and Jamaree Salyer were able to join Monday night's locker room celebration.
"So many guys who played come back, and they talk about how much they miss it," Bowers said. "The players talk about wanting to get to the NFL, but all you do when you get to the NFL is want to be back in that locker room. They don't care what locker room you've got in the NFL, there is never the same feeling of brotherhood because the guy across from you is trying to take your job.
"In our locker room, it's so different, and being around that last night shows me that we built something special, because these guys want to come back."
HALL OF FAME WIN
Georgia's victory over TCU transpired several hours after the latest College Football Hall of Fame class was announced, with the latest inductees including Mark Richt, who guided the Bulldogs to a 145-51 record from 2001-15 before being replaced by Smart.
"I would like to say congratulations to Coach Richt, who got elected into the College Football Hall of Fame today," Smart said after the triumph. "I texted him earlier. I'm so happy for him. He texted back, 'Kick that ass tonight.'
"I knew he was behind us."
- Georgia has scheduled a national championship celebration for Saturday afternoon, with a 12:30 parade down Lumpkin Street and the formal program inside Sanford Stadium at 2.
- Georgia notched its 868th career win, breaking a three-way tie at 867 with Tennessee and Southern California for the ninth spot in all-time victories.
- The Bulldogs finished this season 81-of-83 in red-zone opportunities with 57 touchdowns and 24 field goals.
- Georgia's seniors set the school's four-year mark at 49-5, which includes the COVID-shortened 2020 season that contained eight wins.
- The SEC has won 13 of the last 17 national championships, with Alabama earning six, Florida, Georgia and LSU two apiece, and Auburn one.
- Bennett on his final season: "It just seems like for the past three or four months we've been looking to see if somebody could beat us, and we just ran out of games. Nobody could."
DRIVE FOR THREE
Georgia’s repeat Associated Press national championship is the 12th in college football history, but no team has ever won three straight titles.
Notre Dame (1946-47)
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org.