While this may be a little over the top in some parts, Dan Wolken does hit on the bottom line question of where things go from here for Georgia football.
The discussion is old by now, but it will probably never go away here, not until Kirby Smart does what his predecessor could not.
Was it worth it?
Was it worth firing a successful and widely admired coach to bring in someone who had never before run a program? Was it worth goading the state legislature into changing laws to help the football program be more secretive, fast-tracking an indoor facility that never seemed to get built for Mark Richt, turning the entire athletic department upside-down to put more power and influence in the hands a football coach and tolerating the embarrassment of buying condoms for a rapper who demanded them in a contract to perform at a spring game?
Was it worth demolishing the very foundation of what the so-called “Georgia Way” purports to be?
The last time Georgia played a football game, ending an 8-5 season filled with indignities and incompetence, the answer was obviously no.
But Wednesday, Smart at least created a pathway toward ending Georgia’s buyer’s remorse once and for all.
While I think Kirby is too smart and too honest about things to pretend a great recruiting class in and of itself is a magic cure for what ailed Georgia last season, I don’t pretend that in certain quarters there won’t be plenty of taking that particular ball and running with it, either to wipe out the bad taste of a throwaway year narrative, or in a cynical attempt to manipulate the expectations of the fan base.
I also think Smart was convinced when he walked in the door that there was a talent deficit that had to be addressed. He did make the observation soon after his hire that the starting 22 were up to SEC standards, but not so much when it came to team depth. Add to that a clear emphasis on greater size on the offensive line and secondary, and it’s not hard to see that in his mind the program has been in a rebuilding mode in his first year plus on the job.
Many of us have fretted about poor special teams play in 2016. Shane Beamer has been a target for much of that, but I have the feeling that Smart blames personnel way more than coaching when it comes to the production he got from last year’s coverage and return teams. An underlying theme with regard to what some consider an oversized defensive back group in this year’s class is that even if some of those cornerbacks don’t crack the two-deep right out of the gate, they will serve to make special teams better by adding more size and speed.
“We have to get bigger across the board and we did that,” special teams coordinator Shane Beamer said on Georgia’s signing day webcast also referring to linebackers. “Those guys will impact us on special teams from day one. …The more defensive guys you can get with size and physicality the better.”
Along those lines, there’s also the emphasis on competition that I touched on yesterday.
Smart has emphasized personnel and it’s hard to argue with importance of the Jimmies and Joes part of the equation of succeeding in college football. The question remains what the staff does with player development. I keep coming back to this, but all you can say about that at the moment is time will tell.