Kirby Smart’s first win against the coach he called his “mentor, teacher” was part of the satisfaction of Smart winning his first national championship as a head coach and Georgia’s first since 1980.

“The fact that we got a rematch — it would have left a pretty poor taste in our mouth if we had to go through somebody else,” Smart said Tuesday morning after Georgia’s 33-18 win over Alabama in the College Football Playoff national championship game.

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Alabama upset Georgia in the SEC championship game last month, dealing Smart his fourth consecutive loss to his former team. Georgia was favored to beat Alabama in Monday’s rematch, but they still had revenge on their mind.

“Every bump we’ve had made that much better last night,” Smart said. “Don’t think for a second if we had not been through with Alabama, would it have meant that much? Probably not quite the same. So the highs and lows, the ebbs and flows of life in general of football are what makes it what it is.”

Smart lost in the 2017 national championship game to Alabama, and was asked Tuesday if winning his first title in his sixth season was “on time,” or either ahead or behind schedule.

“Well, if you had told me I was second and 26 in overtime I would have thought it took too long,” he responded. “There’s a distinct advantage when you’re in that position and we weren’t able to capitalize.

“And you can’t do it, but you take Alabama out of it, I think we’ve had the best team in the country probably two or three times, but the best team in the country doesn’t win the national championship every year. The team that plays the best does.”

Smart, however, warned that staying on top will be difficult.

“I don’t know that our team our roster that’s coming back is prepared for what they’re about to see,” he said. “Because there’s a sense of entitlement, there’s a sense of the disease that has always crept in at Georgia — there’s a huge anointment and entitlement that can affect your program. So now it turns for us to another attention of what we’ve got to do to keep it going.”

Mike Rodak is an Alabama beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.

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