NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Georgia coach Kirby Smart took center stage at SEC media days on Tuesday and asked the question that's been hanging over the Bulldogs' offseason: "How do you top an undefeated season?"
"The threat for us," he said, "is complacency."
Smart's Bulldogs have won back-to-back national championships and are the betting favorites to win again, according to Caesars Sportsbook.
Minnesota was the last and only college football team to win three titles in a row, from 1934-36. But Smart said the focus isn't on making history. Rather, the emphasis is, "What are you going to do next?"
"I don't care about the three-peat, the two-peat or the one-peat," Smart said. "I care about complacency."
That means maintaining focus. But that's been difficult to do during what has been a tumultuous offseason in Athens.
On Jan. 15 -- the night of the championship celebration -- Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock and staff member Chandler LeCroy were killed in a car wreck in which police alleged that former defensive lineman Jalen Carter was racing them. LeCroy's SUV, traveling more than 100 mph, left the road and slammed into power poles and trees.
"We love them and we miss them," Smart said of Willock and LeCroy. "... [That was] one of the toughest things I've ever been through as a coach was to experience that."
Since that night, at least 11 Georgia football players have been charged with moving violations, the most recent incident coming this month when freshman outside linebacker Samuel M'Pemba was ticketed for driving 88 mph in a 55 mph zone. His speeding citation occurred about an hour before receiver Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint appeared in court and pleaded guilty to driving 90 mph in a 45 mph zone.
Smart said he was "disappointed" in the number of traffic tickets. While he said that the total number of tickets wasn't more than past years, he acknowledged the seriousness of what he called "super speeders" and told reporters, "What concerns me most is the safety of our players."
"I'm not going to eradicate speeding," Smart later told ESPN, "but what's going to happen to my program is every time somebody gets a speeding ticket, it's going to be the front-page story. If they went and combed every SEC player and researched 'em for speeding tickets, they'd find a lot more of them.
"But when I say we're under a microscope, it's a good microscope. 'Cause you know what it's making us do? It's making us try to prevent it. We're doing more to prevent speeding than anybody in the country."
Asked by ESPN whether he was confident that players have been receptive to his message about the dangers of speeding, Smart said, "I'm not confident in that. I'm not. I mean they're in cars that are faster than they've been. They go, they get up and go faster than they ever have. I'm confident in the education that we're doing."
Smart said they've brought in police to speak to the team and they've started a system of "checks and balances" for self-reporting speeding tickets. So-called "super speeders" are disciplined, Smart said, by losing achievement-based monetary awards.
Defensive back Kamari Lassiter told ESPN he doesn't think there is a culture issue on the team but "Our biggest obstacle for us this season will be ourselves."
Offensive lineman Sedrick Van Pran, a fourth-year junior, told ESPN it's up to veterans like him to continue pushing Smart's message to the rest of the locker room "to make sure we're getting this thing on track."
"Because the truth of the matter is we've made some mistakes and we own those mistakes and it's a matter of accepting that and moving forward," he said. "I think that's really the biggest thing is just understanding that we are not perfect. We've made some mistakes and, to be honest with you, they can't continue to keep happening and it's owning that and understanding that and then trying to move forward."
Pran said there have been moments this offseason where, "It's like, 'Hey guys, this can't continue to keep happening at this point.'
"I don't want to say it's a slap in the face because that makes it seem like it's more so intentional and it's not. It's more so that we're just letting down the university and the guys that have come before us, whether that be on the team or just successful people who come through the university. So, it was more so understanding that you're representing more than yourself and that it has to tighten up, it has to be fixed -- like period."
Smart said this offseason he and his staff studied the New Zealand rugby team the All Blacks for inspiration on how to achieve sustained success. Smart, who said the All Blacks are one of the most successful teams in sports history, has borrowed one of the team's mantras: "Better never rests."
"We believe that," Smart said. "... Our kids understand it. Our kids have learned it. What drives us for this season is intrinsic motivation. We're not going to be controlled by outside narratives and what people say and who's going to be the quarterback. The intrinsic motivation comes from within and what we decide to do.
"This team, the 2023 team, is still defining itself. We don't know where that goes. That happens over the course of the rest of the summer and fall camp. But I like where it's at. I love the buy-in."