Atlanta—Six months and nine days ago Kirby Smart sat in the media room of Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium and tried to put the best face possible on just getting his heart ripped out.

Facing a second and 26 and a three-point deficit in overtime to Georgia, Alabama got a 41-yard touchdown pass for a stunning 26-23 victory. It was Alabama’s fifth national championship in nine years. It would have been Georgia’s first since 1980 and an incredible accomplishment for a second-year head coach in Smart.

Instead, Smart saw his mentor, Nick Saban, win his sixth national championship, tying him with the great Paul “Bear” Bryant.

It was, by any objective measure, a heartbreaking opportunity missed for Georgia. So after trying to comfort his players, many of whom came back to school for this very opportunity, Smart told the media what was in his heart.

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