Continuing with the perspective point from the previous post, this Marc Weiszer piece is a nice summary of where most of the fan base resides from an expectation standpoint going into Kirby Smart’s maiden voyage.
There’s the hapless athletic director, setting a standard for Smart that none of his other hires to date have yet to meet.
When he was introduced as Georgia’s coach, athletic director Greg McGarity made mention of Smart “developing championship football teams.”
He expanded on that last week: “Knowing where we want our program to eventually be, he knows what it looks like. He’s been there. He’s experienced it at every level of the game. He’s grown up in a football environment since his dad coached high school football. He’s a student of the game. He embraces the philosophy I want to learn from others. He’s got a deep, deep pool of friends in the profession and he just wants to continuously learn, which are all positive things for me. I saw those things in Kirby as an assistant and he also knows a lot about the campus and the fabric of the University of Georgia.”
Where McGarity wants the program to be, he said, is being in the race for the national title in the College Football Playoff or contending for the top-tier bowls “on an annual basis.”
There’s the former player, ready for a change.
Bryan Evans redshirted that season in 2005. The defensive back from Jacksonville was being recruited to LSU by Smart before he left the Tigers for Georgia and helped land the Jacksonville product for the Bulldogs.
“I think it’s probably one of the best pickups that we could see,” Evans said of Smart’s hire as head coach. “The reason I see that is I just feel his intensity will be what Georgia needs. Coach Richt was a great coach but later on in his career, I felt that we were not as hungry or competitive in the big games that we were early in his career. Change is good. “
There’s the former head coach, urging patience… not that most want to hear that.
Ray Goff, who was fired as Georgia’s coach in 1995 after going 46-34-1 in seven seasons, knows there’s little honeymoon time these days for coaches.
“People have got to be a little patient,” he said. “It’s still a difficult thing to go from being a defensive coordinator and assistant coach to be being the head football coach. There’s just so many things going on that you’re responsible for.”
Tell McGarity that, Coach.
There’s the good friend, with a little perspective as a peer.
“I think we all know this business is a bottom-line business that people want results,” said Bobo, Colorado State head coach. “Sometimes they want those results extremely fast. I think Kirby is going to be focused on how he can make Georgia the best possible program every single day. He’s committed to the process. He believes in the process and if he can get his players and his alumni base to believe in the process, then I think he’ll have a chance for that trajectory, that course you want that everybody wants Georgia to take. Hopefully the ball will bounce right and it will go that way for him.”
Then there’s Smart himself, right in the middle.
“I don’t think it matters where you come in, you’re expected to win,” Smart said. “They expect the culture change. It doesn’t matter if you come in after a guy who won or a guy who got let go because he didn’t win enough. Mark Richt was certainly a successful coach here. He had a track record of winning games. That’s up to the eye of the beholder whether it was enough or not. Obviously the fact that I’m here is an opportunity created. It’s just hard to say personally what is good enough, what isn’t good enough, what’s going to be good enough? I think the job I’m charged with is to the do the best job I can every day to make this program as good it can be and that’s what I plan to do.”
… So how will Smart define success this season?
“To get the most out of this group of young men that we can possibly get,” he said. “I don’t put numbers on that. I don’t put value on that. … I want them to overachieve. I want them to be the best they can be. That’s what I’m charged with. That’s my job and that’s what we’ve got to do. What that is? I don’t know what that is. That’s relative to who we play and a lot of other things.”
Smart has told the team to focus on getting better each day, not on thinking about winning the division or an SEC championship right now.
“The pressure to win began in December,” Smart said. “That pressure never goes. I promise you I’ll put more pressure on myself to win than any fan will or any part of the Dawg Nation will. That never leaves, but that’s not the focus. You focus on that, you get lost in the shuffle.”
Good luck with that, Kirby. Seriously.