Head coaches whose team’s record worsens in their debuts don’t tend to go on to win titles. In fact, since the SEC expanded in 1992, only twice has the conference title has been won by a coach who went backwards in his first year at that school. And only once in the past 25 years has a national title been won by a coach who slid in his first year.
Georgia went 10-3 last year. Smart has guided Georgia to a 7-5 season, pending the bowl games…
… Gene Stallings, who was an experienced head coach, took over an Alabama team in 1990 that had gone 10-2 the previous year. The Crimson Tide slid to 7-5 in Stallings’ first year, but went on to win the national title two years later.
Alabama went 1-3 in 1996, and then Stallings retired.
What’s that you say about Alabama, 2007? Um, well…
It’s often pointed out that Nick Saban, with Smart as an assistant coach, went 7-6 in his first year at Alabama in 2007. But Saban also inherited a team that went 6-7 the year before.
Saban also improved things his first year at every previous stop: Toledo went from six wins to nine in Saban’s first year as a head coach, Michigan State went from five wins to six wins in Saban’s first year, and LSU went from two wins before Saban arrived, to eight wins in 2000.
In other words, to get where we want the program to go, Kirby’s gonna have to break a few molds.
Here’s an interesting piece on what Georgia’s former defensive coordinator has done as Alabama’s defensive coordinator since replacing Georgia’s current head coach. Per the Sabanator,
“Well, I think that we’re playing the same system,” Saban said. “I think the one thing that we’ve done is we’ve repped the things that we’re going to play in the games, sort of pared it down a little bit. I think our players are a little bit more confident in what they’re supposed to do, the adjustments they need to make. I think they’ve played well because of that. It’s interesting to hear that the players think that, as well. It’s good to know.”
A little comparing, too:
Since taking over for Kirby Smart this year, Pruitt has created controlled chaos. After all, he hasn’t sacrificed aggressive tactics by condensing the playbook. The Tide is blitzing at a much higher rate than last year. During a three-game stretch earlier this season against Kent State, Kentucky and Arkansas, Alabama sent an extra rusher 49.5 percent of the time.
“Coach Pruitt, he does a great job at simplifying things for us to make sure that when we go out there on Saturday there’s not much confusion on the field and making sure everybody’s on the same page,” linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton said.
Maybe Georgia’s defense could have used some simplifying in the fourth quarter last Saturday.
… Georgia’s last four coaches — dating back to the early 1960s — averaged six wins in their first seasons. Mark Richt, who went 8-4 in 2001, was the best among them. Jim Donnan went 5-6, Ray Goff 6-6 and Vince Dooley 7-3-1.
Extended over the entirety of the previous century, that number falls to an average of 5.5 wins for first-year coaches…
That takes care of 2016.
Georgia’s average wins in Year 2 under its last two head coaches — 11.5.
The Process versus expectations. That should be a doozy of a battle to track. As we’ve already seen, the schedule won’t be much of an impediment. I guess there’s always the talent gap to blame if they can’t handle Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech again.
“I can’t tell you I have the answers. We all have opinions but it’s my feeling that we have exploited college football, college athletics in general. We speak all the time about the welfare of the student-athlete and indeed that has not evolved as the most important thing. It’s been strictly about winning and dollars, maybe dollars first and winning second, or vice versa. I think we’ve sold out to the dollars and cents and we sold out to TV. You think about games being played for money – that’s the intent of it. You play for money so we’re playing games on – you pick the night of the week. I think there’s one or two nights we don’t have college football. When you think about a team traveling halfway across the country and playing on Thursday night, you miss Wednesday classes and you miss Thursday classes and it’s a night game so you’re going to miss all or a vast majority of Friday classes. We don’t think anything about that because it brings in bucks. We spend millions and millions and millions of dollars on so many things. We all have nice facilities and we’re all grateful for the people that invest the money to do that but to me it kind of sends a little different message that says the dollars and cents are more important than anything else … more important than the value system that you try to impart on the young people in your program.
“I understand the exposure element of it. I love our fans and I imagine all coaches feel the same way, and that’s what they want to see and that’s what they are invested in. I identify with my age being 100 years old that you used to play 1:10 games on Saturday afternoon and all the fans went to their favorite college game. I’m not saying it has to be that way or should be that way, but you see how it’s evolved away from that to create greater exposure through television. The resources out of television are so phenomenal. As coaches, and I can’t speak for others, I make far more than I’m worth, I can assure you of that ($3.05 million this season). It’s ballooned and now they’re talking about somewhere near $10 million contracts. Where does it stop?
“We talk about education – you got me started on this – you talk about the welfare of the student-athlete and trying to get the best possible education we can and when all that kind of money is involved you look at the faculty members who are the ones that impart the education to these young people and they get a distaste in their mouth because they are grossly underpaid. They are in closets for offices and they see all the grandeur the college athletics and football programs have and, justifiably so, they have an ill feeling about college athletics. Sometimes that can impact their feelings toward young student-athletes.”
That is what you call speaking truth to power. Not that anyone in power is listening…
In early 2015, Baylor’s Title IX Office first learned of the sexual assault allegation in connection with three other reports of sexual assault involving multiple football players. At the time, the Athletic Director was asked if he had any prior knowledge of an alleged gang rape within the football program. He denied having any knowledge of the alleged incident. Later in 2015, for the first time, the Athletic Director acknowledged that the student-athlete’s head coach told him about this report in 2013. The Athletic Director explained that he did not take any action, including reporting the alleged sexual assault to Judicial Affairs, because he thought the victim did not want to report the incident.[Emphasis added.]
As I posted at the time, first McCaw lied and then he tried to justify his decision to bury the complaint. Pretty bad, eh?
I’ll have more to say about it after the bowl game when I do a 2016 postmortem, but Georgia’s problem this season wasn’t a lack of talent. The problem was failing to make the best use of the talent on hand.
“I don’t mess with Jack,” Smart said of the player named the Peach Bowl offensive MVP.. “I don’t mess with kickers. I let them do their thing. Probably the best thing to happen is he didn’t have long to think about it.” — AB-H, 1/1/21