ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia coach Kirby Smart apologized Monday for using an expletive after his team’s victory over Auburn, which sent the No. 4 Bulldogs to the Southeastern Conference championship game for the third year in a row.
Smart began his weekly news conference by saying he was disappointed in himself for his choice of words in the wake of a 21-14 victory over the Tigers.
The comment came when Smart was asked by a reporter what he told his players after they clinched another SEC East title. He replied, “I told them, ‘How ‘bout them (expletive) Dogs,’ that’s what I told them.”
“I would like to apologize for something I said after the game Saturday night,” Smart said. “That's not indicative of who I want to be or what I stand for, and you know you messed up when you get home to your wife and ... you won the game, but she's more upset at something you said.”
Smart played defensive back at Georgia and returned to his alma mater as head coach before the 2016 season. He quickly built the Bulldogs into a national powerhouse that won the SEC championship and played in the national title game his second season.
Georgia (9-1) can get back to the playoff by winning its next three games, including a likely matchup with No. 1 LSU for the conference championship.
Smart is known for his animated displays on the sideline, which included getting knocked to the turf by one of his own players while celebrating when Auburn’s final possession was stopped.
But the coach said his choice of words at the post-game news conference was over the line.
“That's not what I represent and that's not the kind of behavior I want to have,” he said. “I'm going to try to handle that a lot better. It was an emotional win, and I was very emotional in that, but I’ve got to do a better job than that.”
Smart’s players certainly don’t mind his salty vocabulary or emotional outbursts.
"It rubs off in a pretty big way,” tight end Eli Wolf said. “Everybody can see the passion he had after the game was over, and it was really cool to see. It’s really awesome, as a player, to see that your coaches are that much more invested. It’s not always that you have a head coach who is so tied into your program, so it’s awesome to see.”
While Smart plans to be more careful with what he says in public, he’s certainly not going to change up his coaching style.
“I wear my feelings on my sleeve all the time,” he said. “That's kind of who I am. You’ve just got to be able to control that and make good decisions, and I didn't do that. So I regret that part of it. I also am the one that has to represent this organization, and I want to do that the right way.”