As someone who’s run a fan blog about Georgia football for over a decade, I rarely feel the need to explain myself any more, as there’s plenty of material posted here to do that kind of lifting. But in light of recent comments I’ve seen here questioning my support for Kirby Smart, it seems like one of those moments is upon me. So let me take a couple of minutes to clear the air.
I said immediately after Smart’s hire — actually, I think I may have even posted the sentiment before the hire — that Kirby is Georgia’s head coach and that in and of itself makes him worthy of my support. End of story. Nothing in that regard has changed; to suggest that I’m rooting for him to flop out of a sense of cynicism, or bitterness arising from Mark Richt’s dismissal is ludicrous. I’ve been a Georgia fan for decades. I want Georgia to win games and titles, pure and simple. Not only that, but my fandom clock is running late. I don’t have time to sit through a mediocre four-year run and then wait to see if the next guy is the one to pull the program’s proverbial nuts out of the fire.
So, please, stop with that bullshit.
That being said, there’s a big difference between supporting the football program and the head coach and being critical of shortcomings in both. I simply don’t see how the 2016 season is worthy of being exempt from criticism on just about every level. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been positive developments, many of which I have noted on more than one occasion, or that there isn’t reason to have expectations for better times coming soon. But I’m not going to sugarcoat. It wouldn’t feel right to me and I doubt you’d appreciate my lack of honesty.
I will say that for those of you who claim to detect a rise in my level of cynicism about Georgia football, you may have a point, even if it’s misdirected. What’s fed into that isn’t Smart’s first year performance, which in the cold light of hindsight, could have been expected. It’s the organization to which Smart is a part.
2016 did nothing to change my opinion about how the athletic department is run. If anything, it reinforced my worst impressions. Talk about cynicism — the way B-M milked our enthusiasm over the new coach’s honeymoon period with the state legislature and our pocketbooks with increased ticket pricing in the face of mediocre home scheduling could teach me a few lessons.
Then there’s the process that led to Smart’s hire. Feel free to dismiss it in your enthusiasm, whether that’s due to Smart himself, the importation of the Process, Richt’s dismissal, or some combination of the three, but I’m not of the same mind. There’s a reason that matters, too. Greg McGarity’s track record as an evaluator of coaches, when it comes to hiring and firing, is consistent in that he has yet to find a single head coach who’s delivered excellence.
Doubt me on that? Check out the current Learfield Directors’ Cup fall standings, where Georgia stands a proud 71st. That’s actually a slight uptick from the previous fall. Yes, Georgia’s standing will improve after the spring, largely because results from the quality programs with coaches who weren’t hired by McGarity, like swimming and tennis, will kick in. But that hardly changes the underlying concern I have.
Maybe you can separate that, but I can’t. For one thing, it’s hard for me to accept that Smart escapes that history, other than as the result of sheer, blind luck. Maybe that will turn out to be the case, but that’s one helluva way to run a railroad. Speaking of which, that’s the other side of my attitude coin. Even if Kirby Smart proves to be every bit the quality hire we hope he is, to succeed, he’ll have to beat fourteen SEC schools to do it — Georgia’s conference competitors and Georgia’s athletic department. That’s a lot to ask of the guy.
So you’ll have to forgive me if I seem a little more negative at times than you’d prefer. You’re not Kirby Smart, but don’t take it personally on his account.