Chip Towers suggests Kirby Smart’s honeymoon isn’t over, buuuttt…
It’s barely July, but I already feel pressure building on Georgia’s 2017 football season.
I’m not talking about head coach Kirby Smart necessarily. Coaches always feel pressure to win. They’re naturally motivated by competition, not to mention compensation. They’re well paid for what they do, win or lose, and in the grand scheme of things they’re going to be fine.
And Smart’s just two years into this thing. He’s still in the honeymoon period. Unless the Bulldogs’ season deteriorates into some sort of unmitigated disaster or some unexpected scandal arises, he’s going continue to be Georgia’s coach and continue to bank big bucks.
No, I’m really talking about UGA as a football program. It’s time for the Bulldogs to get it going. It’s time to achieve something. It’s time to be something more than a “strong” program that’s financially sound. It’s time to do something more than to continue its “winning tradition.”
Ordinarily, I would consider that some well played hairsplitting, but given that accountability is not exactly a watchword at Butts-Mehre, Towers probably has a point making the distinction. If the 2017 season falls somewhere between an embarrassing collapse and winning the East, Kirby Smart will no doubt return as Georgia’s head coach in 2018 (although it wouldn’t surprise me if there were a few staff changes in its wake; you gotta do what it takes to gin up fan enthusiasm, right, Greg?).
However, there’s a risk that another mediocre season opens up a fault line that wouldn’t be healthy for Smart’s future.
That’s not really me talking. That’s the feedback I’m starting to hear more and more. And not just from the core fans and alumni, who are going to be loyal to Ol’ UGA whether it wins big or not. It’s the players that Georgia is currently recruiting. And that might be more important.
I hope you’ve had the opportunity to read the work DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell has been doing lately, which has been considerable. He was recently out in Oregon for The Opening, the premier recruiting event of the summer these days, and was cranking out loads of great copy.
While he was out there, Sentell got to talk to several of the country’s most elite recruiting prospects, some of them already committed to Georgia, several of them being pursued by the Bulldogs and a few of them not really in the picture for UGA.
What I noticed from those reports and other recent ones is a bit of theme developing with regard to this set. Right now it’s just barely creeping in but, unchecked, it could become a full-blown meme.
That is, Georgia is cool and exciting and a great brand and a great school and an awesome campus, but it just doesn’t achieve anything on the football field. These kids aren’t saying that straight out, but that’s certainly the inference.
If you’re Kirby Smart at that point and you can’t recruit a top-five class, what exactly do you have left to bring to the table as Georgia’s head coach?
Smart’s honeymoon may not be over, but it sounds like, as much as Jeff Dantzler might strenuously object otherwise, 2017 isn’t shaping up as another throwaway year. How much that affects the way Smart runs his program this season is likely to be as big a deal as having that rookie season under his belt.