Kirby Smart Compares UGA’s Athens Celebration To 1998 Widespread Panic Concert

by Chase Thomas
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The University of Georgia is your 2022 winner of the college football National Championship game. With the victory, the Bulldogs ended a 41-year championship drought in Athens. Before Monday evening, the Dawgs hadn’t won a championship since 1980 with Buck Belue under center and Herschel Walker behind him as those Dawgs defeated Notre Dame 17-10. This time, things were a bit different as the Dawgs took care of the Alabama Crimson Tide and their Heisman quarterback Bryce Young.

Naturally, the celebration in Athens that followed head coach Kirby Smart finally taking down his old mentor Nick Saban was one of a kind. However, that did not surprise Smart who compared UGA’s Athens celebration to a 1998 Widespread Panic Concert.

Smart’s full quote from the press conference was, “First thing I thought of was Widespread Panic in 1994 or whatever it was.” He continued, “I was, like there’s people on signs. There’s people on poles. You can’t see the street. I didn’t even know where it was. But was pretty blown away. Hopefully everybody was safe.”

High praise from Smart on UGA fans having fun and celebrating a big-time title in the Classic City. Downtown Athens was a celebration zone all throughout the evening, and the images were pretty remarkable. It even surprised Kirby, clearly. Georgia fans are as dedicated and committed as they come and they were going to celebrate accordingly.

There was something to the analogy by Kirby, though. He played at the University of Georgia from 1995-1999. So, he was around Athens when Widespread Panic came to town in 1998. It was April 18 that particular year. The streets were just as filled and electric as they were on Monday evening.

Kirby Smart on The Victory

Kirby Smart said after the game to reporters about his walk-on quarterback Stetson Bennett, “I’d have thought, hell yeah, we won a National Championship. I’d have been pumped. Five years ago he was delivering passes like Baker Mayfield against the scout team. There’s a lot of guys that saw him on that scout team make plays with his feet, his arm whip and decision making, and we were very impressed. But again, to think that it would come this far from that National Championship he was a part of there to this one, man, what a story.”

It was quite the run for Bennett and Smart could not be happier for him.

Smart concluded, “There’s so many guys on this team that — I want to single them out. William Poole, guys, this guy made a lot of plays tonight on the ball and he was not even playing three, four weeks ago. Jalen Carter, there’s a lot of guys — A.D. Mitchell, a lot of guys made plays. That’s what this team has been, a collective group of people stepping up when they’re needed.”

Congratulations, Bulldogs, on the 2022 National Championship.