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Atlanta – The College Football Hall of Fame is a nice break from the pot-hole ridden ride to and from Birmingham. Atlanta, after all, is the home of our game – and this league. And what the league is and will be in a few years when Texas and Oklahoma are added to the motley crew that is the Southeastern Conference.

Georgia, the only team in the league to win a national title, has tried to ignore what its fans have been drinking all day for the past seven months. None of the Dawgs were wearing rings from their national title seasons as they navigated Wednesday’s presser.

Georgia Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart made it clear he wasn’t retiring and didn’t intend to cause a stir when he said he was thinking about it 12 months ago. He was expressing that he was “worn out” along with the rest of the college football industrial complex.

“Boy, you are looking. I tell you that any content is good,” he told reporters.

June is the month. Wait – is there? July? Yes, we’re looking, and when a head coach like Kirby says – jokingly or not – that he’s thinking about retirement… that’s a story.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he said in concluding remarks about the Texas visit. “Just disappointed with how it went (in the summer of 2021) and happy with how this June went because I wouldn’t say it was an easy June, but it was a good one.”

As Lizzo would say: “Anyway…”

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Georgia and Alabama certainly seem to be eyeing each other for another showdown this December. Bama QB Bryce Young said his team is using last season as motivation for this year’s presumed run to Atlanta and beyond.

“The little stings are coming in a lot. That’s what’s driving us,” he said.

Listen closely enough and the sycophants out there will talk about how much better Will Anderson is than Young. Alabama has the best offensive player and the best defensive player in the country!

(And lost to Stetson Bennett’s Blue Angel-riding donkey – “But the receivers were hurt Paul… It was injury.)

Meanwhile, Georgia players talked about being motivated by the Alabama loss, which came Before They beat Alabama and won it all. Any small edge for any player, team or program – that’s what we’ve got so far.

Don’t be fooled by my cynicism – these two teams are looking to hold each other down. Judging by the results of the Tennessee, Auburn, Vanderbilt and State games, this is going to be a 12-game cold war, as if anything in the past means anything about the future. I’m old enough to remember how bad Alabama looked for seven days before Georgia made UGA… ugh – this is exhausting.

This is about the game now. As Nolan Smith rightly said today, the game is played wherever your feet are at the moment. A regular season loss between these two teams will not prevent either team from winning in Atlanta (or Los Angeles).

It’s going to be a fight and Ohio State will be watching with glee after managing their way around Notre Dame in the first week. The Irish and maybe the Taters will be watching too. Could USC and Lincoln Riley sneak in, too? Many of us are assuming that Alabama, UGA and Ohio State will be in the playoffs at the end of the season – perhaps we’re crowning those three programs too soon. Maybe someone else has a thing for college football. Maybe Georgia loses to Kentucky or Bama drops a game to LSU or A&M before heading to Atlanta.

Although they are two of the “best” teams in college football, we’ve learned over time that the “best” four teams don’t always get invitations to the CFP. And that’s what Nick, Kirby, the Tide and the Dogs must be wary of.

A season ago Alabama entered the playoffs after not playing so hot against Texas A&M, LSU, Auburn, the Gators and maybe even Arkansas. But Bama got there because they are winners. They know how to win. The only thing that matters to Alabama is winning enough to stay front of mind, especially for College Football Playoff committees. Any reason to keep Alabama “in” will be used. I’m not hating – that’s where we are.

Will Georgia get it now? They probably will – at least for now. Alabama doesn’t have the same man-to-man combat dogs do out west this fall. Georgia probably “should” Atlanta without a single blemish – what does that say if they don’t? How do they lose that game(s)? How will they react?

Alabama showed what it means to be mentally tough a season ago. They would have lost to LSU. They lost to A&M. Of course it is should have lost to Auburn. But they didn’t. That says more about Alabama than anything (it might Also (They got there when they didn’t last season, and they won’t this fall — we just don’t know.)

Still, the default setting for Tide is to win. duration. And often they don’t.

What is the default setting for Georgia? Wanted to win last year. But last year passed.

“We can’t look behind us — we have our egos behind us,” Nolan Smith said Wednesday.

Ahead of you is the Cold War with the tide. Prepare accordingly.