So, I’m rummaging around the intertubes, trying to catch up on what I’ve missed, and come across this remarkable tweet:
The accompanying sniff is palpable. And who is this guy to be passing judgment like that, anyway? It’s one thing to be an investigative reporter pushing the boundaries (what’s been happening at Toppers lately?). It’s another to be editorializing about where the moral responsibilities of a head coach lie.
For what it’s worth, this really isn’t that hard a question to address. If you want to see where a coach takes actions that do bear responsibility, take a quick look at what recently went on with New Mexico State’s basketball program, where the head coach interfered with a criminal investigation. There’s a big difference — or at least there should be a big difference — between enabling criminal behavior and not reacting to such behavior as forcefully as one may like.
Anyway, I digress a little. I do wonder whether Kirby internalizes such criticism to motivate himself and his team this season. Actually, this being Kirby Smart, I don’t wonder about that at all. As Seth Emerson ($$), put it in his Mailbag today,
… I agree with a point Josh Pate of 247Sports made on his podcast this week (at about the 36-minute mark): Smart will use the criticism about the team having a culture problem because of the car crash and racing arrests. I’m already on record what I think about the issue; I don’t see a big culture problem. But some of my media colleagues (only a few, but that’s enough) have been pretty harsh, and Smart could use them as a foil. As Pate said, and I already knew from covering this program, Smart and his coaches likely already have been telling their players to answer all the culture questions with their play on the field. And yes, the culture questions have been about off the field, so the best thing the Bulldogs could do is keep their noses clean. But undoubtedly the criticism creates a rallying cry inside the program, fuel to make offseason workouts and lifting sessions fierier than they might have been otherwise.
There’s a certain amount of irony in letting the AJ-C provide fuel for the motivation fire, of course, although I doubt we’ll ever hear Smart publicly acknowledge that. But if in fact Judd’s sanctimony helps drive the team towards another national championship run, something which we all know the paper will provide copious amounts of coverage to accompany the finger wagging, well, that’s why they have a scoreboard to point to.
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