Even though Alabama owns a victory over Georgia in three of their last four matchups since 2018 and defeated the Bulldogs as an underdog in the SEC Championship on December 4, 2021, Paul Finebaum is convinced that UGA has surpassed the Crimson Tide as the premier program in college football.
The SEC Network host made the argument that Nick Saban and co. have lost too many of their most important players to the NFL this past April and May.
“Just watch the NFL on Sunday and there are a lot of Alabama players that are no longer on that campus,” Finebaum said on ESPN’s Get Up on Wednesday, September 21. “They still have the two that matter (Will Anderson and Bryce Young), but so many have gone and they haven’t replaced some of the elite wide receivers. … They haven’t replaced some of the elite defensive players.”
Georgia lost 15 starters from their 2021 national championship roster, with nine of them coming on the defensive side of the football. With that said, the defense has held up, though they rank behind Alabama’s in most defensive metrics through three weeks of the 2022 season.
Losing Kirby Smart Is Finebaum’s Main Reason Alabama Is No. 2
Finebaum didn’t mention any other program besides Alabama and Georgia when discussing college football supremacy at this current moment in time. Traditional Big Ten powers like Michigan and Ohio State, who are currently in College Football Playoff slots if the season ended today, haven’t truly cracked the conversation about which program is at the top of the sport.
With that out of the way, Finebaum sees the presence of Kirby Smart on the Georgia sidelines for why Alabama is no longer the premier powerhouse in the nation.
“I think overall the biggest deficiency for Alabama today is the fact that Kirby Smart is at Georgia,” said Finebaum during the September 21 edition of Get Up. “He was Nick Saban’s most valuable assistant and he’s not been able to replace that … and I think a lot of the shift has moved to Georgia.”
Smart was able to pick up his first victory over his former boss Saban during the 2022 College Football Playoff finale on January 10, 2022. Previously, he was 1-4 against the Crimson Tide — including a previous national championship loss on January 8, 2018.
Paul Finebaum Says Alabama Dynasty Isn’t Over
After chastising Nick Saban for calling the 2021 season a rebuilding year back on August 3, Paul Finebaum refused to say that the Alabama dynasty was over during his September 21 Get Up interview with long-time ESPN morning host Mike Greenberg.
While continuing to recognize Smart’s absence as offensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide, Finebaum gave credit to the current man in that seat, Bill O’Brien.
“And Nick Saban has good assistants; he has Bill O’Brien but he has never been able to replace Kirby Smart, and I think the shift has already happened,” said Finebaum. “I’m not saying the dynasty’s over, I’m not saying any of that, Nick Saban’s is about to be 71 years old…but Georgia looks like a better program right now and they’re backing it up on the field.”
Georgia has a far better point differential after Alabama narrowly avoided a September 10 upset against Texas at DKR Stadium in Austin. The Bulldogs’ 49-3 dismantling of Oregon stands out as the best win (by far) for either team, but there isn’t enough evidence to say that the Crimson Tide aren’t still the premier program in the country.
One championship and three dominant games allowing 10 points total to start off the 2022 season doesn’t tip the scales all the way east to Georgia just yet. The Bulldogs would have more of a claim after winning a potential SEC Championship rematch in December 2022.