National Championship Opening Act
Combatants for the College Football National Championship Nick Saban (Alabama) and Kirby Smart (Georgia) former colleagues took to the stage this morning for a chat with the media.
KIRBY SMART: First I’d like to thank all the NCAA CFP staff, the SEC office for what a tremendous job they’ve done in supporting our program and helping us get to this point. The last event we were at we thought was a first-class event, and it’s been the same way since our arrival here. Our kids are certainly excited. I think what you’ve seen over the course of the last few weeks is what college football is all about. You’ve got a great group of student-athletes for four teams who have been given an opportunity to do special things, and our kids are really excited.
I think it’s really great for our fan base to be right here in Atlanta, Georgia, a special place for us, also the home of SEC football and championships, and we’ve got two SEC teams in it. I’m certainly honored and privileged to be competing against a great university that’s kind of been the landmark of college football over the last 10 to 12 seasons, and I know my experiences there working with the late Mal Moore, Bill Battle, Coach Saban himself have helped me tremendously in my career, but we’re honored and privileged to compete against what’s a great program, and they’ve done a tremendous job, and I think it’s kind of lost in the shuffle of how well they have been able to compete at a high level for a long time and almost take it for granted at times.
But we’re expecting an exciting football game Monday night. Our players are just enthused, excited to be in this opportunity, and we’re going to make the most of it, and really want to appreciate the coverage that you guys give us. Thanks.
NICK SABAN: I’d also like to thank the College Football Playoff and Executive Director Bill Hancock. This has certainly been a first-class event for our team and our organization and the people in our organization. We’re certainly excited and happy to have the opportunity as an organization to play in the College Football Playoff, the Championship Game, in Atlanta, Georgia, which has been a place where we’ve had several opportunities to play, and I think our players always look forward to the challenges of playing here.
I’ve been really, really pleased with what this team has been able to accomplish this year. We had to overcome a lot of adversity, and each and every time guys have stepped up and continued to compete at a high level, something that we have a tremendous amount of appreciation for, our staff and all the players on our team for what they’ve done and the opportunity they’ve created for themselves to play in the Championship Game.
I think we’re playing against an outstanding team. I think Kirby and his staff have done a fabulous job at Georgia in terms of the high level that their players compete at, the quality of players that they have, how well they play together as a team, and certainly they deserve a lot of congratulations for what they’ve been able to accomplish this year, and I think it’s two great teams, will be a great, competitive game, and our players are certainly looking forward to the challenges and the opportunity of playing in the Championship Game.