In today’s Georgia preview, Bill Connelly demonstrates that he knows us better than we’re willing to admit we know ourselves.
Ambition is fine. Aiming high can pay off. But if you aim high and miss, it can set your program back years.
The idea of Glen Mason Territory is based around that idea. Minnesota won more consistently under Mason than under any coach since the 1940s, but he struggled to clear the bar he’d set. He went 18-8 in 2002-03 but followed with 20 wins in the next three years; good for Minnesota, but not good enough. After a 6-7 2006, capped with a huge blown lead in the Insight Bowl, the Gophers dumped Mason in favor of Tim Brewster … and went 17-33 over the next four seasons. Minnesota didn’t win more than seven games until the eighth season after his ouster.
GMT™ is established when fans get frustrated with merely being successful. Once you raise the bar, you have to keep raising it. Perhaps it should be called Mark Richt Territory.
In 15 years, Richt engineered seven top-10 finishes; the Dawgs had only pulled that off 10 times in the 51 years before him. Georgia won 50 games in his final five years, complete with four S&P+ top-15 rankings and two AP top-10 finishes. The Dawgs came within an eyelash of the BCS Championship in 2012.
After the next hint of a true (and brief) drop-off — UGA won 10 games in 2015 but fell to 32nd in S&P+ — the school sent Richt packing…
Saban’s impossible consistency has driven fanbases and administrations throughout the SEC insane. Richt was fired for not being as successful as him, and LSU’s Les Miles nearly suffered the same fate.
Following this line of thinking, it makes sense that Georgia would replace Richt with what they hope is the Next Saban: longtime Alabama defensive coordinator (and UGA grad) Smart.
The 40-year-old product of Bainbridge has an impeccable résumé. He was a defensive coordinator at Valdosta State at age 25, spent two years under Bobby Bowden at Florida State, briefly worked in the NFL, and spent the last nine seasons with Saban. He knows how Saban works, breathes, eats, and operates. He will operate in one of the most fertile recruiting areas of the country, and he will get complete, desperate support from the athletic department and the state government.
And he better win. Immediately.
Pretty much. The good news is that Bill is fairly bullish on Georgia’s chances this season, particularly if Chubb is healthy.