ATHENS, Ga. — As the Bulldogs celebrate their national championship on Saturday in Athens, a natural question comes to mind: How many more times might we see Coach Kirby Smart and the Dawgs do this?
But Hutson Mason, a four-year player at UGA from 2010-14 who quarterbacked the team as a starter in his senior year, already sees more big achievements ahead for Smart - and for those things to happen in Athens.
"I can absolutely see this being one of two or three (championships) in a five-year window because of the way he recruits," Mason told 11Alive's Maria Martin Saturday as they covered the Dawgs' parade. "Georgia is positioned for great long-term success."
And Mason felt like there were strong reasons to believe there's nowhere Smart would rather be than Athens.
"Kirby's in his mid-40s, in my opinion he's not going anywhere," the former quarterback said. "He's at his alma mater, and he's at an alma mater that has every resource in the world to continue to win championships. And he doesn't strike me as a guy who would leave for the pros - I think him being from Georgia, this being his home, I mean you don't get that a lot.
"And a lot of times in his profession, guys wanna leave for greener grass or higher paying jobs - Georgia is better positioned for long-term success than any other program in college football right now," Mason added.
Mason's former UGA teammate, Arthur Lynch (2009-13), added that Smart is probably taking a (short) moment to revel in the accomplishment before looking ahead to more.
"I heard a lot of people talking 'oh we dethroned Alabama' - the fact that we won one, it's an incredibly difficult thing to do," he said. "I don't think it's gonna be his last one, but I do think he has probably at some point this week sat back with his wife and just kind of reflected and probably said like, 'Holy crap, I just accomplished my goal.'"
The former tight end added: "I think he's not here by accident. A guy who has loved Georgia - he was a rabid fan with the dream of playing there. My guess is he always knew he wanted to be a coach, and he probably didn't know if he wanted to be a coach at a certain level and then when he got to Georgia, I think he realized I wanna be the head coach of Georgia. He probably put that in his mind early on, and again you talk about the discipline it takes not only to accomplish getting to be the head coach of Georgia, but then to ultimately deliver them a national championship."
Maria summed it Smart's drive to deliver more for UGA, recalling the coach's press conference following the championship when he "literally said what bothered him was that he wasn't already on the road recruiting."
"This guy goes 365 days a year, he's always thinking about recruiting - his wife told me that on my podcast," she said. "He is built to build something in Athens, and I think we're seeing that today."