Smart was Richt’s running backs coach in 2005, and he speaks with reverence when discussing his predecessor. At the same time, Smart has heard plenty from fans about what they want to see out of the new regime.
“What Mark did was remarkable,” Smart said. “Averaging almost 10 wins over 15 years in the SEC is really amazing. But in the last five or six years, the East has been down, and you also have to be competitive with the West. So we know exactly why we’re here and what the expectations are, and I can assure you we have those same expectations.
“If you win the SEC, you’re going to be in the [College Football Playoff]. That’s the aiming point: going and winning the SEC and getting in that four and then going and playing teams that maybe aren’t as good as the ones you played during the year.”
One of the things Smart has heard most from fans, other than their frustration with the championship drought, is that the program has become stale.
“They want passion and energy in the players,” Smart said. “They want passion and energy out of the coaches. They want humility too. A lot of the fans have been like, ‘We’re tired of our players feeling like they’re entitled when they really haven’t done anything.’ Their complaint is, ‘We won 10 games, but who did we beat?’ And it might be 12 wins one season and then eight or 10 wins another season and then eight and then six.
“They want consistency and performance, and that’s what we’re grinding every day to bring them.”
Better win big, son. And soon.