I know for some of you comparing the downward trajectory of this season to Saban’s first year in Tuscaloosa offers the comfort of a warm, soft blanket, but reader Bob explains why it’s a false comfort.
A lot of us are constantly reminded about what Nick inherited. I will tell you what he inherited. He inherited programs at LSU and Bama that had losing seasons when he took over. Those programs won 28 games in their previous 4 years. Alabama had been on probation. Kirby inherited a team that won 40 games the previous 4 seasons…
That’s hardly all, if you think about it. There are two other huge reasons to disabuse yourself of the notion.
- 2016 Kirby Smart isn’t 2007 Nick Saban. When Nick Saban took over at Alabama, it was his fifth head coaching job. He’d already won a national championship at LSU. He’d coached in the NFL and in two other conferences, too. In short, he already had his notions about how to run a football program tested and honed; he walked into his new gig knowing not only exactly what he wanted to do, but how to implement his vision from the start. None of that applies to Smart. It’s his first head coaching job. He’s getting his feet wet in college football’s toughest conference. Simply put, 2016 is on the job training for Kirby Smart, with all the hiccups that ensue.
- Alabama isn’t Georgia. Duh, I know. But I’m not even thinking about the obvious administration commitment levels here. It’s more a matter of how the schools went about their business in the two seasons under comparison. Alabama was hungry to the point of desperation, but it started from the vantage point of wanting experience for its next head coach and was confident enough in its ability to provide resources to shoot the moon, first with a hot name like Rich Rodriguez and then, after he turned the Tide down, Saban. Georgia, in turn, started with little more than a belief that it was better than what Richt had delivered, and entered the job search market with a conviction that Smart was its guy. History may prove McGarity to be correct in that regard, but there is literally nothing to suggest that to date, unless you believe that greatness can be passed to an assistant coach by osmosis.
Before you go there, none of this is offered to make the case that Richt shouldn’t have been let go, or that Smart won’t deliver down the road. It’s simply that Georgia’s 2016 season is a sui generis disappointment and insisting that Alabama losing to a directional school nine years ago is some sort of evidence for thinking otherwise is… well, embarrassing. Just stop.