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#pounditWednesday, January 19, 2022

College Football

Jahleel Billingsley, Drew Sanders enter transfer portal day after Alabama loses

Alabama Crimson Tide logo

Jahleel Billingsley and Drew Sanders did not wait long before deciding to move on in their college football careers.

Billingsley and Sanders are among five former Alabama players who entered the transfer portal on Tuesday, the day after their Crimson Tide lost in the national championship game to Georgia.

Quarterback Paul Tyson, linebacker King Mwikuta, and offensive lineman Tommy Brown are the three other players transferring.

Billingsley had 17 catches for 256 yards and three touchdowns as a junior this season. But the tight end slipped and was unable to make a third-down conversion in the first half against Georgia. He also was called out by Nick Saban before the season.

Sanders had 24 tackles and a sack as a sophomore linebacker. He previously was committed to Oklahoma prior to switching to Alabama in 2019.

Tyson saw very limited action behind Bryce Young. The sophomore quarterback went 10/16 and passed for 150 yards.

How Vince Dooley gave Kirby Smart a good omen about championship game

Kirby Smart with a headset on

Kirby Smart felt confident heading into the national championship game on Monday night, and some of that confidence came from what he considered to be a sign from above.

Smart became only the second one of Nick Saban’s former assistants to beat the Alabama coach when Georgia defeated the Crimson Tide to capture the title. After the game, Smart revealed to reporters that he ran into Georgia legend Vince Dooley by coincidence last week. He took that as a sign from God.

Dooley was the last head coach to win a national title with Georgia. He did so in 1980. The 89-year-old coached the Bulldogs from 1964-1988, winning six SEC titles in addition to the national championship. He was also the athletic director at Georgia from 1979-2004.

Smart was 0-4 against Saban prior to beating him on Monday. If you want to know how excited the Georgia coach was about the victory, just look at how high he jumped while celebrating.

Photo: Nov 25, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart shown on the sideline against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the first half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Video: Stetson Bennett seemed drunk during funny ‘GMA’ interview

Stetson Bennett during an interview

Stetson Bennett won the biggest game of his career on Monday night, and the Georgia quarterback agreed to go on live television for an interview roughly eight hours later. In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the best idea.

Bennett was gracious enough to discuss Georgia’s win over Alabama in the national championship game during a Tuesday appearance on “Good Morning America.” We don’t want to make assumptions about how Bennett celebrated the big win, but it’s safe to say he was … exhausted. Check out the video:

Bennett admitted he didn’t get much sleep. He’s also 23, so there are certain activities that he would have been able to legally take part in after beating Alabama — if he were into that kind of thing.

Bennett, a former walk-on, went 17/26 for 224 yards and two touchdown passes in the 33-18 win over Alabama. It was obvious how much the feat meant to him when he was seen crying tears of joy on the sideline (video here). However Bennett chose to celebrate, he certainly earned it.

Georgia LB Nakobe Dean had wardrobe malfunction after winning title

Nakobe Dean celebrates with the wrong hat

Georgia came from behind to beat Alabama in the national championship game on Monday night, and one Bulldogs player found himself accidentally rocking the enemy’s logo after the game.

Following his team’s 33-18 win, Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean celebrated on the field wearing a hat with the wrong logo. Someone accidentally handed him one of the hats that Alabama would have worn had they won the game.

We’d like to think Dean was doing that to troll Alabama, but he almost certainly just didn’t realize. Most people probably are so used to seeing the Alabama logo on championship swag that they didn’t notice, either.

There have certainly been more embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions, but Dean will likely have a hard time living that down.

Kirby Smart goes viral after showing off his incredible jumping ability

Kirby Smart jumps

Kirby Smart not only led Georgia to the national championship on Monday night, but he also had a viral moment during the game.

Kelee Ringo sealed the Bulldogs’ 33-18 win over Alabama with a 79-yard pick-six in the final minute. As Ringo was making the interception, Smart leaped on the sidelines to show his excitement. He also showcased his jumping ability:

People immediately took notice of Smart’s impressive vertical:

That was impressive.

He doesn’t look like it anymore, but Smart, now 46, was quite the athlete. He played DB at Georgia and was an All-SEC player as a senior. He had 13 career interceptions and was an undrafted free agent signing by the Colts.

Nick Saban’s message to Kirby Smart in postgame handshake revealed

Nick Saban talks to Kirby Smart

Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide came up short in the national championship game against Georgia, but the Tide coach was classy in defeat.

Georgia came back from down 9-6 at the half and down 18-13 in the fourth quarter to win 33-18 and finish the season 14-1.

Saban seemed genuinely happy for his former assistant, Kirby Smart, who was previously 0-4 against Saban.

Saban gave Smart a hug and appeared to tell him “good job” during their postgame handshake.

Then Saban gave Smart quite the hat tip, admitting, “you guys kicked our a– in the fourth quarter. Congrats,” he told Smart.

Saban continued to pay Smart compliments in his postgame interview with ESPN’s Holly Rowe.

“I’m proud of Kirby,” Saban said. “I’m proud of the program he’s built. He’s done an outstanding job with his team. They’ve played great. They’ve probably been the most consistent team all year long.”

Saban also appeared to tell Smart that they believe Jameson Williams suffered an ACL injury.

What’s so interesting is that Saban was previously undefeated against his former assistants. But this season, his Tide lost twice — both times to former assistants (Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M was the other). Saban is now 25-2 against his former assistants.

Would Saban have loved to win the game? Of course. But in the long run, losing to Georgia is not such a bad thing. Losses — especially in championship games — provide Saban the motivation to keep going and keep doing what he does best. His Crimson Tide will be back, and maybe they will be hungry for revenge.

Kirby Smart reveals what ticked off Georgia before game

Kirby Smart with a headset on

Kirby Smart on Monday night led Georgia to its first national championship since 1980. After previously going 0-4 against Nick Saban, Smart led his Bulldogs to a 33-18 win in the CFP title game.

After the win, Smart revealed something that his team used as motivation against Alabama, something that made them “hungry.”

“There were people who said we weren’t conditioned enough. And it pissed a lot of people off on our sideline. And they came to work,” Smart said in his postgame interview with ESPN’s Molly McGrath.

The issue Smart pointed to is an odd one. Georgia’s conditioning hardly registered as a pregame storyline.

The only time conditioning was mentioned was a few days before the game when Jordan Davis said his conditioning for the SEC Championship Game was off.

Few others talked about conditioning.

You know what this means? It means that Smart is manufacturing his own slights in order to motivate his team. He really does take after Nick Saban.

Photo: Nov 25, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart shown on the sideline against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the first half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Stetson Bennett seen crying as Georgia wins championship

Stetson Bennett cries

Stetson Bennett is an ugly crier. But he played a pretty game on the biggest stage, at the biggest time, to earn the right to cry on national TV.

Bennett went 17/26 for 224 yards and two touchdown passes while leading Georgia to a big 33-18 win over Alabama in the national championship game. He threw an absolute dime on a 40-yard touchdown pass to Adonai Mitchell in the fourth quarter, giving his team the lead for good.

After Kelee Ringo sealed things with a pick-six, all the emotions poured out of Bennett.

“It just hit me. As soon as he caught (the interception), I just teared up. I didn’t plan it,” Bennett said in his postgame interview on ESPN.

The former walk-on quarterback just started to cry happy tears:

Bennett was a 2-star quarterback recruit coming out of high school.

Now he has led his home state team to a national championship, and he played one heck of a game and earned the title. Best of all, he helped Georgia overcome Alabama, the team that kept haunting them.

Keep crying, Stetson. You earned it and deserve it, and your tears show just how much the win meant to you, and just how much you had to overcome to get there.

Alabama awarded controversial fumble on key Stetson Bennett play in 4th quarter

Stetson Bennett loses a ball

Alabama was awarded a fumble on a critical play by Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett in the fourth quarter of the CFP National Championship Game on Monday night.

Georgia was leading 13-12 in the fourth quarter and had a 3rd-and-8 at their 27. Bennett was under pressure and tried to scramble away. Just as Christian Harris was tackling him, Bennett started to try throwing a pass.

He lost control of the ball, and Brian Branch somehow grabbed it just before going out of bounds.

The officials ruled that it was a fumble. They reviewed the play to see whether the fumble call would stand or whether they would penalize Bennett for intentional grounding. They decided the call on the field would stand, giving Alabama a huge turnover and the ball at the Georgia 16.

Here’s another look:

Bryce Young ended up throwing a touchdown pass to Cameron Latu to give Bama an 18-13 lead.

Not only was that a huge, game-changing call, but what’s extra tough for Georgia fans to stomach is that a similar play early in the game was reviewed and went against them. Many felt the refs should have ruled in the offense’s favor on both calls to maintain consistency. Instead, both calls benefited Alabama (here was the first call).

Video: James Cook breaks biggest run in CFP championship game history

James Cook runs

James Cook delivered one of the biggest plays we have seen in a CFP national championship game.

Cook broke for a 67-yard run late in the third quarter of the championship game between Georgia and Alabama to set up the first touchdown of the game.

The big rush from Cook was the longest in the history of the CFP title game.

It was also the longest run allowed by Alabama since Georgia’s Nick Chubb in 2015.

Though Cook made the big play, it was Zamir White who later punched it in from a yard out to give Georgia the lead. The Bulldogs took a 13-9 lead in the game, though Alabama answered the touchdown with a field goal to make it 13-12 in the fourth quarter.