“It’s not yet known if Smart can coach, but Georgia’s talent is being upgraded.”

Bud Elliott’s back with his Blue-Chip Ratio/National Title Contenders projection for 2017.

It boils down to teams that sign more four- and five-star recruits than two- and three-stars, over the previous four recruiting classes. That’s an exclusive club, usually consisting of the top 10 percent of FBS programs. All of the national champs over the last decade-plus have accomplished it, and often, the team taking home the trophy has signed many more elite players.

Clemson took home the title in 2016 after signing 52 percent blue chips in the 2013-16 classes. In 2015, it was Alabama with a 77 percent mark. In 2014, it was Ohio State at 68 percent. In 2013, it was Florida State at 53. And on and on.

As my colleague Bill Connelly has said, winning in college football takes talent acquisition, development, and deployment. I agree. But Gene Chizik has a national title, while Mark Dantonio and Gary Patterson do not; acquisition is by far the most important element. By NCAA rule, coaches get just 20 hours per week with their players. Only so much development can be done.

At 63%, Georgia is fifth on Bud’s list.

It’s no surprise to those of us who have been tracking the program since Smart’s arrival that he’s been laser-focused on talent acquisition and in that regard has been a step up from his predecessor.

Kirby Smart inherited a good Georgia roster from Mark Richt, but his first two classes are humming at 74 percent, while Richt’s final two were at 53.

That would seem to bode well, although I can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed by the fact that Alabama’s four-year percentage is six points higher than Kirby’s pulled in his two-year run.  It would seem that he and his staff are going to have to coach a little to win an SEC title or two.

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47 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

47 responses to ““It’s not yet known if Smart can coach, but Georgia’s talent is being upgraded.”

  1. Your last sentence sums up my thoughts on the current state of the Georgia football program right now. You cannot out-Bama Alabama. You can compete with them on the acquisition front, but you beat them with better QB play combined with coaching. Just look at the last 2 national championship games. While Watson outplayed Coker in 2016, the Bama QB held his own, and the Tide won a close one. Watson was superior to Hurts in 2017, and Clemson still needed a call to go their way and an injury to Bo Scarborough to beat the Tide. You better have a talented roster and some luck if you plan to take down Bama.

    That was my frustration with the hiring “process.” No doubt Kirby was going to be an excellent recruiter as head coach, but I think most any proven P5 head coach (with the exception of the Genius) could come to UGA and recruit (with the appropriate support). The main question was whether the head coach could knock the lid back off the program and take the program to the next level. While signs appear promising, the jury is definitely still out at this point.

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    • Greg

      QB position is the straw that stirs the drink.

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    • MGW

      I agree Georgia is a better recruiting situation than most schools and most decent coaches could come in at least do OK, but I wouldn’t be so dismissive of what Kirbys accomplished on the recruiting trail so far. He’s gone well above and beyond what all but maybe a few others could have done, and if you want to see what happens when a merely competent coach takes over a great recruiting situation, just go look at what that article has to say about Florida and Texas.

      The beauty of Smart is that even if he turns out to be a complete dud of a game day coach, there will be plenty of talent for the next guy to work with.

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      • Oh, I didn’t mean to come across as dismissive of Kirby’s recruiting accomplishments. He has done an excellent job of acquiring talent. I do think a number of proven P5 head coaches could have come in and generated the same type of buzz with much more game day head coaching experience.

        I can only hope he sees the same year 2 jump in on-field performance we’ve seen from others.

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    • Macallanlover

      Solid post EE, we have upgraded enough that we should be in the mix. Like everyone else with deep talent, we will still need a break, perhaps even more so with that crew in Tusky, potentially, in our way.

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  2. 81Dog

    In basketball, where a talented individual, or a couple or three of them, can make an obvious difference really quickly for a team’s fortunes, consider this: Guy V. Lewis at Houston made 3 Final Fours in a row, despite the widely held opinion that he couldn’t coach his way out of a paper box. Good players make a mediocre coach look pretty good, an average coach look excellent, and a guy like Saban unbeatable. Lack of talent makes coaching look worse than it is, too. It isn’t the only factor, but it’s a big factor.

    Unfortunately for Kirby, he didn’t get hired to look excellent, he got hired to win SEC championships and compete for, if not win, NCs. Glad to see he’s stockpiling talent. Best he start figuring out how to deploy it. Last year was the training wheels year. This year, the East is mediocre, the schedule is as favorable as an SEC schedule gets (Notre Dame is no better than mediocre, certainly a game a GOOD team should win). I’m pulling for him, I think he can do it, I want him to do it. But nobody KNOWS if he can do it, yet.

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  3. Hogbody Spradlin

    Them that has, gets.

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    • Jared S.

      That’s what I’m thinking. You “gotta have money to make money.”

      I think Kirby did an okay job last year as a first-year HC. When’s the last time a first-time HC entered a position under as much pressure immediately AND at such a high level? We’re talking next level pressure here. Other worldly.

      Was last year a disappointment? Sure. But the fools who said “a monkey could take over this team and win 10 games” last year were idiots. There was almost zero chance considering the huge turnover in coaching, a true freshman QB, upheaval following Richt’s dismissal and The 2013 Recruiting Hole, etc, etc.

      All that to say I have a lot of confidence in Kirby. So many coaches are “all hat and no cattle,” and while Kirby has no metaphorical cattle yet, I think he’s on his way. Time will tell.

      Still reserving judgment till 2018.

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      • Macallanlover

        Good points, and I don’t think anyone feels KS’s would be in trouble if we have another sub-par season in 2017, but what are we waiting for in 2017? And I don’t mean he has to win the SEC title. In other words, what do you feel we are missing? To me, not making Atlanta with this lineup is a bad indicator (barring some major injuries.)

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  4. dawgtired

    Kirby is definitely bringing in the talent, and that is without the benefit of proven head-coaching ability. If he and staff can succeed on the coaching front, the wins should come and the recruiting should remain elite. If Kirby’s staff does not meet his expectations, recruiting of this magnitude should be an encouragement to high-level would-be assistant coaches. We should be able to draw in the staff we want. According to this list we’re top Dawg in talent in the East. We should play in Atlanta every year with solid coaching.

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    • MGW

      Can’t overstate how big of a deal it would be for recruiting if the team plays well this year. If you lose a game or two to teams who turn out to be good, thats not a problem, but just go be a good team worth watching, make some noise, and this class will close very, very strong. Beat the teams you’re supposed to, smash the teams who shouldn’t be able to compete with you, split the tossups, and don’t get blown out.

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  5. PTC DAWG

    You have to load the wagon…Kirby is on it…

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  6. There’s no question Kirby has upped the recruiting/roster management level at UGA. He’s also done so specifically on the OL, where Richt often fell short. But Richt proved he could coach, and we’ve yet to see that from Kirby. I think come December we’ll know almost everything we need to about Kirby the coach as opposed to Kirby the recruiter.

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    • Mayor

      Richer also proved he couldn’t coach losing really close games time and again with end of game miscues.

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      • Dawgy1

        Well Richt didn’t lose to Tech and Vandy often, which we managed to lose to both last year.
        What Mark Richt did prove is was and is the best coach Georgia’s ever had to date. 145-51 over 15 years, he has nothing to apologize for to me.

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  7. Greg

    Probably just the coffee talking this morning….but the closer we get to kickoff, the more confident I get…… 15 and 0 FWIS. GO DAWGS!!

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  8. 3rdandGrantham

    We can take solace in the fact that, with our last two classes and especially the ’17 class, our 3 star commits were high 3 star ones with several being right at the 4 star mark. If just 1-2 of those were ranked just a few spots higher, they would have been 4 stars and thus we would be beck and neck with Bama in terms of the overall % mentioned.

    As others have stated, this is the most important season for us that I can recall in many years. If we do well, our talent pipeline via recruiting will be incredible. If not, it will be a tough row to hoe overcoming our underachieving stigma and thus will have a harder time bringing in top flight recruits.

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    • Junkyardawg41

      I think that is spot on. I think two segments to watch WRT recruiting. Obviously W-L record will be one. The other will be offensive and defensive stats. Can players improve their draft stock —- Having watched the first two Falcons preseason games, I can’t help but marvel at Aaron Davis. Obviously the kid has talent and if he actually was able to get better stats, I think he would have been drafted… not a first rounder but 6-7 range. So W-Ls are important but if we are hovering at 8-4, 9-3, and we have good production on both sides of the ball, it is possible to keep the pipeline open. Not preferable, obviously, but possible.

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  9. UGA85

    Clemson’s percentage was 52% and they beat Bama and Ohio State (beatdown), along with FSU in the regular season. Saban and Meyer can be beaten by a program with a fraction of Bama’s tradition and less talent. UGA has all the resources and talent it needs. I agree that coaching makes a huge difference, especially the ability to coach up gifted quarterbacks like Watson and our own Eason.

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  10. UGA85

    And even though all of us, including myself, like to discuss ways to beat Bama, the elephant in the room is really the Gators, not Bama. If we could somehow begin to dominate Florida, and thus the East, then recruiting momentum, program excitement, and eventual SEC titles would follow, IMO.

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    • Skeptic Dawg

      Spot on 85! Find a way, any possible way, to stop the dreck we annually witness in Jax and life gets a lot better for this staff. With the influx of talent that Kirby and his staff are currently bringing in, you would think that the future is bright for this program. 2018 thru 2020 should be fun years to be a Dawg.

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      • Got Cowdog

        Well said. If the Dawgs don’t show up in Jacksonville this year I will have serious issue with the current staff

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  11. DawgPhan

    not really sure that the talent upgrade is that significant. we recruited talent at a level that was sufficient to win a title. What we havent done is upgrade our coaches.

    I know recruiting is important, I know Smart has dont a great job with it.

    But I feel like recruiting might be at a point of diminishing returns and there are big gains to be made with the coaching staff. I wish that we spent the effort and resources finding the best coaches the way that we spend it on recruiting.

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  12. ApalachDawg

    My belief is that 2017 is the year that the ship finally turned and unloaded in the process our previous cargo of soft Lilly white performances (with the exception of a few years) and we start to unleash a shitload of containers full of whoop ass on our opponents .
    It’s time we do what our resources should allow us to do – Put the ever living fear of god into our opponents and be what we should be which is bad ass junkyard SeC title contenders every damn year.
    Let’s go curb stomp some folks.
    Folks on the Apalachicola River are fired up for game 1.
    GATA

    Liked by 1 person

    • Greg

      “Lilly white”….boy, been a long time since I have heard that term. You do know why they call them “Lilly Whites”, right??

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      • ApalachDawg

        Yes. Soft English cricketers. Also their dept store went under.

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        • Greg

          My old football coach referred to “Lilly Whites”……as the ones that were not good enough to get into the game or played hard enough. Hence, their pants were “Lilly White” (no dirt, no stains….just white). Players hated that, challenged their manhood.

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  13. Captain Obvious

    finally a common sense poll, that wasn’t devised out of boredom in some moms basement somewhere, using their middle school dungeons and dragon’s 20 sided metrics dice. However, my magic 8 ball always says bama too.

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  14. 69Dawg

    Kirby has been and is a heck of a recruiter but the jury is still out on his being even a good HC. He can copy the “Process” when it comes to practices, he can copy the “Process” when it comes to coaching philosophy but has to actually stop the assistant coach thing that was so evident last year. He was still coaching the defense and let the offense do with a stern warning “don’t screw up the defense”. I think some of Eason’s problems were that Chaney being the lifer asst coach that he is had Eason so scared that he might screw up he was ineffective most of the time. He was actually at his best when the chips were down and the coaches had to turn him loose. The Missouri and UT games were prime examples. Once it was do or die he usually did it. One other observation on Kirby and his defensive coaching ability, remember that Alabama lost to Clemson in the last second the way we lost to Tennessee, Vandy and GT. Everybody but Kirby knew that Clemson was going to run a pick play and Alabama should have just told the DB’s to flatten the receivers whether it was interference or not. He didn’t and the pick worked end of game. Anybody looks like a great coach with Alabama talent, I’m watching for Kirby to at least look good without Alabama talent.

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  15. Hal

    Richt didn’t prove he could coach until year 2

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