It’s easy to give Jeff Schultz crap about some of the stuff he writes, but in my opinion, he really nails the expectations surrounding the Kirby Smart hire with this piece.
This, for example, is what we’re all hoping Smart brings with him.
Smart said Saban’s methods suggest, “I’m going to affect players more mentally than I am with X’s-and-O’s.”
The most important thing Saban taught him?
“How to compartmentalize,” Smart said. “You have all these boxes with all of these jobs you need to do them all really good within two hours of each other. You go from one meeting about a game plan to another meeting about recruiting to another meeting about academics. And in the middle of it all, maybe somebody gets arrested. But deal with each issue as it comes up. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the stuff you’re dealing with. He’s a master of that. He’s a master of psychology with the players. He’s changed a lot from the first time I met him at LSU.”
Details are what did Mark Richt in. He never found a consistent way to manage everything. Ultimately, that’s what kept a good coaching career at Georgia from being a great one. And if Smart can’t do a better job in that department, well, he won’t get 15 years to figure it out.
It’s not all on Smart, either. Which is still my biggest fear.
So why can’t everybody do it? Are Saban’s methods that complicated, or is he just smarter than everybody else?
“It’s really hard work, and it’s a grind,” Smart said. “It’s having the full support of the athletic department and the president and an unlimited budget to get what you need. He gets every competitive advantage that he can think of.”
Does that really sound like something we should expect to change at Georgia? Color me skeptical about that. I hope I’m wrong, but I’ll have to see the new leaf turned first before I’ll buy in.
Saban loves talking about the steps in his “process”: The vision, the procedure, the daily discipline to make it work, regardless of circumstances encountered along the way.
Most coaches have a similar philosophy. What they don’t have is Saban’s resume – or resources, power or job security. That’s why it’s so difficult to replicate.
If Kirby Smart manages to succeed despite a less than full commitment to the process and someone comes calling a few years from now who promises unconditional support, do you think he’ll show the same organizational loyalty that marked Richt’s career in Athens? If so, why?