If one of your criticisms of Mark Richt was that Georgia needed a head coach more animated on the sideline during games, then Kirby Smart’s your guy.
Daily Archives: October 19, 2016
Besides giving me a sad pang, this reminiscence of Uncle Verne’s…
Lundquist points at two 2013 games in Auburn as most memorable during his career. The Kick Six, when Chris Davis returned a missed Adam Griffith field goal as time expired to give Auburn the win, tops them all.
“It’s No. 1 in college football,” Lundquist said, noting highlights of that clip would be shown to the lunch crowd on Monday. “I’ve been lucky to be at a lot of places where significant things broke out. That one, for any kind of football, is the greatest finish I’ve ever seen.”
What happened two weeks prior is second in line. Nick Marshall’s “Prayer at Jordan-Hare” was caught by Ricardo Louis for a 73-yard touchdown late in Auburn’s win over Georgia on a fourth-and-18.
“(That one is) right behind (Kick Six),” Lundquist said. “My favorite story behind that is we went off the air with (color analyst) Gary (Danielson) saying, ‘That’s the greatest finish we’ve seen in a college football game and we’ll never see anything like again.’ Well, two weeks later …”
… also caused me to pause and reflect about something. When’s the last time Verne Lundquist saw Georgia win a game? (I think it’s the 2013 Cocktail Party.)
Geez, now I’m depressed. How ’bout give him a good memory on the way out the door, Dawgs?
By the way, this is classic:
Next season, Brad Nessler will join Danielson in the booth, replacing Lundquist as he watches from home.
“I’m going to have back surgery,” Lundquist said. “Isn’t that a great substitute? I’ve got to have back surgery in September. It’s six months rehab. I’ll be sitting in my living room in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, watching Brad and Gary and saying, ‘Why’d you say that?'”
Holy crap! I didn’t see this one coming.
St. Louis’ own rock ’n’ roll pioneer Chuck Berry turns 90 on Tuesday, but he’s the one who will be giving fans a gift. Berry will release his first new studio album since 1979’s “Rock It.”
Simply titled “Chuck,” the album will be available in 2017 through Dualtone Records. The exact release date hasn’t been determined.
The album will consist mostly of originals…
The Stones and now Chuck. If you’re not dead, make some damned records, right?
I am a cynic about many things. I’m sure that comes as not much of a surprise to anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis. No doubt the course of this 2016 season is bringing out the snark in me, especially when I listen to folks try to defend two of the most disappointing games I’ve sat through in Sanford Stadium (and remember, Kirby’s only coached four home games!) as somehow being in context with the history of the Georgia program.
But I’m not that cynical, as this putrid Jeff Schultz column reminds me. All it takes is a little condescension to bring me back to being clear-eyed about Georgia’s future with Smart.
It’s fair to have concerns about the Bulldogs in general and Smart in particular. But seven games into Smart’s first season is a little early for grand proclamations. His 4-3 start — while alarming given the Vandy game, the blowout at Ole Miss and the debacle against a bought-and-paid-for FCS opponent, Nicholls State — isn’t that dissimilar to the seven-game records of the previous seven six Georgia head coaches. Consider: Wally Butts 3-4; Johnny Griffith 3-4, Vince Dooley 4-2-1, Ray Goff 4-3, Jim Donnan 3-4, Mark Richt 5-2.
There is criticism. There is noise. There is a consensus in the dark corners of the social-media underworld that the house is on fire and that Smart is overmatched in his position.
Okay, a lot of condescension. But I digress. There is a vast difference between being frustrated over a few early season debacles, not that I’m excusing those, and believing that the experiment is ready to be deemed a total failure. It’s not fair to Smart (not that he’s likely to care much at this point, to be honest), who’s operating under a longer time frame than those of Schultz’ ilk credit Georgia’s fans with having. At least I hope it’s just those of Schultz’ ilk.
I know that some of you are absolutely going to despise this quote because of its source, but if you can take the trouble to separate the message from the messenger, it says a lot about what Smart believes he’s doing.
On the idea of “middle management,” sometimes your job is just to make things work. And sometimes your task is to make incremental improvements. It’s like steering an ocean liner and making a 2 degree turn so that 10 years from now we’re suddenly in a very different place. You can’t turn 50 degrees all at once because that’s not how societies – especially democracies – work. As long as we’re turning in the right direction and we’re making progress, government is working like its supposed to.
I have to start with the supposition that there was a legitimate reason to replace Mark Richt, and, honestly, been there, done that. Further, as a Georgia fan, even if I question the process that brought Kirby Smart home — and, boy, do I — I sincerely hope and am invested in the belief that his vision will ultimately be vindicated. There have been longstanding flaws in the program that need fixing, and that fixing won’t come overnight.
None of that, admittedly, makes this season any more pleasant to suffer through. What bugs me the most about that is no one associated with the administration has ever had enough respect for me or the rest of the fan base to admit the reality of the situation. Smart himself used Obama’s big boat analogy to describe his approach to this season, although admittedly without getting very deep into what the likely consequences in the short term would be. But the people who were responsible for bringing Kirby Smart to Athens? Please.
Either they themselves were in the camp that blinded itself to that because of a naive belief that “we’re Georgia and Richt was holding the program back!”, because ninety three thousand showed up at G-Day or some other nonsense, or were in a cynical group who didn’t know what might be coming, but saw an opportunity arising out of the natural excitement that comes with a coaching change to flush a few extra bucks out of our wallets while the honeymoon was in full effect.
All of which is why I can sympathize with those of us who are plenty disturbed from the low points we’ve been through in a mere seven games, while acknowledging that it’s not easy for any of us to see if in fact Smart’s on to something when he says things like this:
“I don’t deal with it,” he said Tuesday. “I focus on us getting better. With this job comes criticism. I’ve accepted it. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it with good friends and programs I’ve been in. That doesn’t scare me. What I’m worried about is our team and our players developing.”
I’m fairly certain I’ll do more grumbling this season, because there’s no reason to think after last Saturday any real corners have been turned when it comes to how this team approaches a game. When I do grumble, though, I’ll do my best to confine my irritation to the effort at hand, as opposed to any bigger picture stuff, because it’s simply too soon to draw any overarching conclusions.
For those of you who can’t quit the Alabama 2007 analogy — and note that Schultz indulged you — I will grant you that I would love as much as the next Georgia fan to experience the same shock I had watching Saban’s team in the following season’s opener demolish Clemson in a red and black setting, but who’s to say things will turn around that dramatically? I will settle for recognizing steady progress as it comes. For now, I’ve got no choice but to go with the flow.
At least I’m not cynical enough yet to think about what comes if Smart’s wrong. Let’s hope you don’t have to check back with me in three years or so on that.
Too bad Art Briles couldn’t take that attitude beyond his offensive system. For Baylor, anyway.
— “Absolutely there’s a balance. And I think that balance really has been reached,” Smart said. “I feel comfortable with the amount of time I’m able to spend with each component (offense, defense and special teams). …
“We’ve got to do better in each one. We’ve got to perform better in each one. We’ve got to execute better. We’ve got to get the young players to play better. We’ve got to get less penalties. There’s so many areas we can improve on. That has nothing to do with the balance of time that I spend.”
I have absolutely no doubt of the sincerity of that comment from Georgia’s first year head coach. He knows what he wants and he firmly believes he knows how to get there. That conviction is the engine driving Georgia’s 2016 season, at least what’s left of it.
Which is what led me to this horribly cynical thought: you know what Kirby’s remaining goal is for this year? I’m not talking about the aspirational stuff, the making players better blah, blah, blah coachspeak. I mean that which has taken the place of competing for things like winning the East.
It’s seeing Georgia reach bowl eligibility. Not because he’s invested in the concept of making sure his team finishes with a winning record in his first season, unlike, say, Greg McGarity, who has to be pondering that possibility and the offseason defense to it he’d have to construct with an increasing sense of impending gloom, or worse, cynicism. No, that’s not Smart’s concern at this point.
The reason Kirby Smart cares about winning two more games is because he wants the extra month of bowl practice to build on for the next go ’round. That’s all there is. It’s the ultimate end justifies the means exercise for this mediocrity of a season.
Sure, we get the occasional oh, so close stuff.
“Every game has come down to the fourth quarter with the exception of Ole Miss,” Smart pointed out Tuesday. “Every one of those games easily could have gone either way. That’s SEC football. Welcome to the world we live in as coaches.”
Thanks for the invitation, Coach. It’s good to know that narrow brushes with FCS cupcakes and losses to Vanderbilt are the new normal. I’ll adjust my expectations accordingly.
In the meantime I look forward to paying to watch plenty of teaching moments. That’s what you get when the Georgia Way meets the Process and has a baby. But, man, that 2018 season will be spectacular.