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Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 6:31 PM
— Wipe that late night Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl-watching blurriness out of your eyes. It’s time to really get focused now:
College football’s National Championship Game in Atlanta is right around the corner!
The game kicks off at 8 p.m. on Monday, January 8, 2018 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. With longtime rivals Alabama and Georgia vying for national bragging rights, along with the usual Southern ones, there’s no telling how high emotions and ticket prices will go.
But one thing we already know for sure: On Game Day and the two days leading up to it, downtown Atlanta will be packed with hundreds of thousands of people taking in free concerts, Playoff Fan Central, the “Extra Yard 5K” run and the rest of the related pigskinpalooza
If you’re one of them, you doubtless have lots of questions. Like: Is there public transportation to events? Are coolers allowed? Can I really go to Media Day if I’m not a member of the media?
Yes, but only if you want to see how glamorous our jobs really are, cough, cough!
Here’s your complete Survival Guide to the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship weekend:
When: Saturday, January 6 - Monday, January 8, 2018.
Where: Atlanta. Everything takes place on “Championship Campus,” a walkable area bordered by Northside Drive, Ivan Allen Junior Blvd. and Ted Turner Drive (see map here). Besides most major hotels and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, venues located on “campus” include Centennial Olympic Park (site of the nightly AT&T Playoff Live! concert series and fireworks shows), the Georgia Aquarium (Taste of the Championship) and the Georgia World Congress Center (Playoff Fan Central).
Driving and Parking: There are more than 20,000 parking spaces within a 20-minute walk of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which offers offers maps and links to pre-purchase parking for most stadium events.
Published: Monday, January 08, 2018 @ 6:23 PM
ATLANTA — They haven’t talked all week, and they’re not going to. Not until after the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
“I’ll probably give him a hug, text him, start back everything,” Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley said. “We’re brothers, you know.”
While a lot is being made of the numerous relationships between the coaches, including of Nick Saban squaring off against his former defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, no one in the title game has a stronger bond than Alabama junior wide receiver Calvin Ridley and his younger brother Riley.
“I want him to do good … but I want us to win,” Calvin said.
Although the brothers say that they’re close, and are usually in touch, they’ve put that on hold. Usually they’re often in contact, either though texts or phone calls, but after what they called a normal Christmas back home in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area, they sort of went their own ways for a bit.
They had enough to worry about in dealing with Clemson and Oklahoma in their respective semifinal games.
“It’s been intense,” Riley Ridley said. “Mom doesn’t know who she wants to root for. She’s a little nervous because both of her boys will be on the field at the same time.”
Calvin thinks she’ll lean toward Riley because he doesn’t have a national championship ring, and this way both would have one.
Regardless, the winner will have lifetime bragging rights.
“You better believe it,” Riley Ridley said.
Although Riley Ridley was also recruited by Alabama, he opted for Georgia in part to forge his own path — and at his brother’s encouragement.
The sophomore reserve has eight receptions for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns this season.
Calvin leads Alabama with 59 receptions for 935 yards and four touchdowns this season. No one else on the Crimson Tide has more than 16 catches.
He’s second in Alabama history with 220 catches and 18 receiving touchdowns, and third in receiving yards with 2,749.
“Calvin is special,” Nick Saban said during the national championship game media day Saturday morning.
Calvin said none of the defensive backs had asked him for advice on covering his brother, but if they asked him he would. “He’s big and he has good hands,” are the keys.
Riley (6-2, 200 pounds) is a little bigger and more physical. Calvin (6-1, 190) is more of a technician and isn’t afraid to throw blocks on much bigger defenders.
As for who is better at getting under an opposing player's skin during a game, they’re not quite in agreement.
“We don’t really talk trash,” Riley Ridley said. “It may look like we talk trash, (but) it’s more of ‘Let’s go! That’s all you got?’”
“He is probably,” Calvin said.
Both thought this matchup was going to happen in this building, but in a different game. Georgia clinched a spot in the SEC championship game early, but then Alabama lost at Auburn — setting up the rematch of the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry,” which has been described as like playing your brother.
Published: Monday, January 08, 2018 @ 2:22 PM
ATLANTA — President Donald Trump is set to arrive in Atlanta on Monday about two hours before the Georgia-Alabama game.
The president will fly with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue from the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting in Nashville and will arrive at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia, at 6 p.m.
He’ll take a motorcade from there to downtown Atlanta, with plans to arrive at the stadium shortly before 7 p.m.
The fans who paid top dollar to watch Georgia face Alabama at Mercedes-Benz Stadium may not see the president, but his presence should be obvious.
His decision to catch the championship game adds a twist to the biggest college football contest in Georgia’s history — and a host of soon-to-be answered questions.
Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 3:32 PM
— The first lady of Georgia football is a Bulldog star herself.
Mary Beth Smart, wife of head coach Kirby Smart, was a star player on the Lady Bulldogs in the early 2000s. Her name still resides on the annals of Georgia women’s basketball.
A full profile of the former Mary Beth Lycett appeared in DawgNation. Here are some highlights:
• Mary Beth Lycett was an exceptional basketball player. She was named Miss Georgia Basketball her senior year at Morrow High and played for Andy Landers’ Lady Bulldogs from 1999-2003.
• Mary Beth and Kirby did not attend UGA at the same time. She is is 5 1/2 years younger than him. They met when he returned to Georgia to work for Mark Richt as running backs coach in 2005. Mary Beth was working in the athletic association’s business office at the time and he had to call her to arrange his travel to Athens for the interview.
• Mary Beth and Kirby started dating in 2005 and were married in Athens in summer 2006 at St. James United Methodist Church.
• She is an avid tennis player. She ran the Chicago Marathon in 2014.
• Kirby and Mary Beth Smart have three children, twins Julia and Weston (born in 2007) and their youngest son, Andrew.
Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 8:17 PM
— Nick Saban’s coaching tree stretches far and wide.
At Monday’s national championship game in Atlanta, Kirby Smart will be the sixth former assistant to face Saban as the head coach of an opposing team.
Before being named Georgia’s head coach in 2015, Smart spent 10 years on a Saban coaching staff at Alabama, LSU and the Miami Dolphins.
In 11 games against former assistants, Saban is a remarkable 11-0. In those games, Saban teams have outscored opponents an outlandish 427-111.
The list of pupils includes Derek Dooley (Tennessee), Jim McElwain (Colorado State, Florida), Will Muschamp (Florida), Mark Dantonio (Michigan State), and Jimbo Fisher (Florida State).