Georgia coach Kirby Smart named SEC Coach of the Year

Annette Crawford
December 7, 2017

Looking mentally and physically tired, Auburn got pushed around by a bunch of hungry Georgia Bulldogs to the tune of 28-7 in what was a rematch with an SEC title and College Football Playoff berth at stake.

Georgia arrived with a different script.

The game can be analyzed over and over again, but the bottom line is Georgia was the better football team on both sides of the football on Saturday, much the same way that Auburn was when the two teams met before.

For any Georgia fans driving around who happened to catch a glimpse of the game, congratulations on reliving your team's first SEC Championship since 2005.

Up next Georgia: Will likely head to either the Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl to play in a semifinal game, looking to take another step toward the team's first national title since 1980.

"That's a tough one", Georgia senior outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter said with a smile.

The Bulldogs struggled to an 8-5 mark in Smart's first season, but the former Georgia defensive back insisted he was establishing a culture that would return his alma mater to national prominence.

Malzahn led the seventh-ranked Tigers into the Southeastern Conference championship game but had faced repeated questions about whether he was interested in the Arkansas job in his home state.

Of course, they've got their sights on a bigger prize. Once I saw him commit to the gap, I tried to get in there and affect the play.

Smith picked up another prize after the game: the MVP award. Auburn was ranked second in the CFP poll but managed only 259 yards after piling up 488 in its November 11 rout of the Bulldogs.

"You can do it for the chump change, but we did it for all the marbles", Smith said when asked about the payback. It was a rather uncharacteristic game all around for Auburn, as well as a role reversal from the first meeting between the two rivals last month.

Details of the new contract have not been finalized, but ESPN reported Sunday that the deal will pay Malzahn $49 million over seven years - an average of $7 million per season, which would make him the fifth-highest-paid head coach on a per-year basis. "We wanted to show that we could play better than we did".

Malzahn is in his fifth season at Auburn and is 45-21.

Whether head coach Gus Malzahn will still be around to lead the way is somewhat debatable.

Arkansas set Malzahn as the top target in its coaching search even before Bret Bielema was officially relieved of his duties following the Razorbacks' season-ending loss to Missouri on November 24 and had reportedly made a lucrative offer to get him to return home.

"I'm happy at Auburn", he said. "We were all really, really excited players-wise, coaching staff-wise". I love my players.

Auburn started out the game like it was headed for another big win. Early in the second quarter, Auburn pushed into position to extend its lead, facing second-and-6 at the Georgia 14.

On the next play, Fromm found Godwin all by himself for an apparent 3-yard touchdown, only to have Wims - who was blocking on the play - called for an offensive pass interference. But the Tigers were stymied by two crucial turnovers, a blocked field goal and a Georgia team eager to make up for its embarrassing 40-17 defeat on the Plains.

Georgia's Kirby Smart got the nod as coach of the year and Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham was chosen as newcomer of the year.

Penalties kept the Bulldogs doing even more damage. "Nothing worth having comes easy in this game".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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