Now comes the hard part.

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.

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52 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

52 responses to “Now comes the hard part.

  1. Tas Smith

    Dan Wolken wanted UGA to hire Tom Herman….bahahahahaha….nice day he had yesterday.

    Don’t give him any credibility

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    • You count Herman out after his first class? He was hired in December right? I think we’ll be hearing from the longhorns in the near future. What he did at Houston is amazing. He didn’t go 8-5 in his first season you know. 4 losses in two seasons. 22 wins. CKS has to go 14-0 this year and get a 2016 forfeit to match that.

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      • MGW

        I think he’s exactly what Texas needed. They’re only going to take back over the state of Texas if they start winning, and Herman’s the kind of guy who can win with less. Then the recruits will follow.

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  2. JCDAWG83

    We’ll see how Kirby ultimately does but I’ll take what we have now over the Groundhog Day feel of the former coach’s career. We would have had a top 10 class with a couple of undersized offensive linemen, some short dbs, a three star or two defensive lineman and a scant handful of four and five star “athletes” and a good running back. We would have landed about sixth or seventh in the conference and gone on to another totally frustrating 10 win season with a win over a mediocre Big 10 team in a very mediocre bowl.

    I hope Kirby can put the results on the field but if he can’t, he sure won’t leave the next coach with an empty cupboard.

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    • Otto

      Agreed Kirby seems to have fixed one problems, we’ll see what he does with it. I’ll take the win for today and be happy.

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    • Greg

      With a top 10 finish???…..Hopefully, we will get back there.

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      • JCDAWG83

        More likely a 10 win season and unranked because the wins were over nobody. Honestly, I think the former staff would have won 10 last season. They would have won the games we won and beaten tech and Vandy as well. I also think we would have ended the season unranked…again.

        The 2014 season was the ultimate in the final ranking being nothing more than a participation trophy. We got stomped in Jax, lost to the chickens, lost to tech and won the prestigious Belk Bowl to get 10 wins. That’s a bad season in anybody’s book but we got to say we were top 10 and the fans could shout “wait til next year!!!” like they had been for a decade.

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    • Sherlock

      a couple of undersized offensive linemen

      Reading this article yesterday made me has a sad.

      https://www.dawgnation.com/football/recruiting/kirby-smart-andrew-thomas-clemson

      The kid was universally ranked as the top Offensive Lineman in the state of Georgia. Richt / Sale didn’t even really try to recruit the kid. Thomas said he had spoken to them once or twice. I can understand not winning some recruiting battles such as with Hyatt or Tunsil. What I can’t understand was constantly ignoring quality talent in order to chase after undersized 3-stars that played at Class Single A private schools.

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  3. Irwin R. Fletcher

    I don’t mind Wolken too much…but saying that Kirby’s great recruiting ‘adds pressure’ just doesn’t make any sense. The pressure on Kirby to win big hasn’t changed because they were ULTRA successful on the recruiting trail this year. And it also is dumb to say the ‘real victories’ will have to be seen in the fall. You don’t win big in the Fall unless you win big in February. That’s just a fact. The class UGA signed yesterday plus the PWOs is a real and tangible step towards winning a championship and not just the East. It doesn’t make it inevitable…but it makes it possible.

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  4. Herman is a great coach. It would not surprise me if Texas makes the CFP this year. They won’t win the NC, but might win the Big 12.

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    • Macallanlover

      Agree that Herman is a solid coach who will succeed at Texas but it would be a very big surprise if they made the playoffs next year. But then I thought Clemson looked like pure T crap in 3-4 different games in 2017 and they even won the playoff. FWIW, I also thought Charlie Strong would succeed at Texas, so my track record is pretty bad recently.

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  5. Rocketdawg

    We are either going to be really good really soon or Kirby is going to leave the cupboard stocked for the next guy to come in and win immediately (think Zook/Meyer at UF). Either way the Dawgs got better yesterday and that is always a good thing.

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  6. Scorpio Jones, III

    If, as Kirby says, competition to play is the key to improvement, things should get very interesting at several positions between now and Appy State.

    I am encouraged by the additions in the kicking/punt game. While there were other flaws, obviously, a solid year by these guys last year might have been the difference in a couple of games.

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  7. The good thing about recruiting a great 85 is that they really develop themselves and each other. They have to if they want to play. Nobody can get lazy knowing that their position is secured. It’s like the NFL. Every rep, every game, every year the coaches are looking to replace you with someone who does the job better. You have to make yourself as irreplaceable as possible or you end up “Rico McGrawed.” Maximing an 85 man roster is self-perpetuating in that way.

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  8. Uglydawg

    Don Woken is pretty darn good at describing water that’s long passed under the bridge. The sorriest weatherman can tell you what happened last week.

    HIs list of “Was it worth it” questions is a purposely insulting, stating of the obvious, shit-ass of an attempt to put the whole program on an early (for CKS) hot seat while giving his muck raking skills the look of insight.

    I wonder if the head of the U of UT Journalism School (if they have one) reads Wolken’s bullshit and asks himself, “Was it worth it?”

    To echo Tas above,
    “Don’t give him any credibility”

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    • Normaltown Mike

      agreed

      And not to get too factsy, the IAF was approved and fast-tracked WHILE CMR was at Georgia. Kirby had nothing to do with it.

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    • Athens Townie

      Agreed here, too. He’s reaching so hard to frame this as a hot seat situation.

      But, OH!, the indignity of the Ludacris contract!!! Gasp! *

      Whatever.

      If a head coach isn’t getting his way with the AD and the admin, that’s his failure. Part of the job is effectively demanding and lobbying for what you need.

      Kirby is doing well with that so far. And recruiting. Can he take steps forward in player development and in-game coaching?

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  9. Snoop Dawgy Dawg

    If Kirby doesn’t cut it, Coach Mike Bobo is going to absolutely love all the talent and the QBs on campus for him to coach. All Hail Coach Mike Bobo(?)(I assume our AD Braintrust wouldn’t hire anyone else).

    I’m not going to go count it up, but as of spring practice, roughly half the roster will be Kirby’s players. 75+% of the roster will be guys who were in classes ranked in the top 10 nationally. Talent simply isn’t an excuse for Kirby any more. Offensive line won’t be dominant, but you don’t have to have Bama’s line to win 10 games.

    I am skeptical for 2017 only because of the lack of improvement down the stretch this past season, but I am also genuinely optimistic about what a stable staff and all these athletes can do this year. Say what you will about the staff, I just don’t get how we didn’t get better in games 8-13. As the resident “we’re going 12-0” every year guy(usually by Aug 15, I’ve mapped out why we’re going to win each game), it is a weird, weird feeling indeed to have these doubts.

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  10. The Nelson Puppet

    I’m really excited about Georgia winning the recruiting National Championship!

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  11. Bright Idea

    Wolken is no different than the rest of us. All any of us can do to bridge the gap between signing day and September is talk and speculate.

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  12. DawgFlan

    Geez, being contrarian and even cynical has its, but this Wolken guy is too much.

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  13. I saw Tech finished 42nd in ESPN’s ranking. Hoping we can beat them this year with an even bigger talent disparity.

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  14. W Cobb Dawg

    In regard to personnel and STs, I’ve said this a couple times before: I noticed WR Reggie Davis was on the kick-off team. He was probably the 2nd smallest/lightest player on the team and I doubt he can tackle as well as our 4th string DB. It just plain stupid coaching to have Davis on a kick-off team. period.

    We have at least one assistant coach who is lousy. I’m surprised and disappointed Kirby is bringing back this staff in its entirety considering the performances of a couple assistants in 2016.

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  15. Uglydawg

    If we could see up-ahead as well as Wolken can see back-behind, I wonder what we’d behold..
    Will Saban retire in the not so distant future?
    If he does, will it mean another “Post Bear” type ice age for the Tide?
    Will Dabo replace him at ‘Bama?
    Will Smart replace him at Bama? (If so, it would mean we’d had some good stuff happen at UGA)
    Who would replace Dabo at Clemson?
    Who would replace Kirby at UGA? (CMB?)
    How’s CMR doing at UM?

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  16. D.N. Nation

    Wolken always seemed personally offended that Richt got sacked. He’s a weird dude.

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    • AthensHomerDawg

      I think CMR had hit a wall career wise. He needed to reinvent himself. That happened to me. I did resent how it was handled. Poor form per McGarity

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      • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

        ^^This. CMR leaving was good for him and I hope, good for us in the long run. Wasn’t handled very well, but we can’t do much about it now.

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    • It’s funny because when Richt was still the coach, Wolken talked down about Richt like the dude stole his cat or something. Wolken’s just got a weird thing about Georgia.

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  17. DawgPhan

    Is there where we mention that Muschamp had the #3 class in 2013?

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