What Georgia’s looking for now is the next Gene Stallings.
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.