Credit where credit’s due.

This is such a smart take by Jeff Schultz ($$) on why Kirby Smart’s offseason has been so impressive.

Since the end of a season that again came up short of the primary objective, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has made over his offensive coaching staff (and possibly his philosophy), lured a highly regarded transfer quarterback to Athens, signed the nation’s top recruiting class and, as if banging a gong from the roof of the Butts-Mehre building, and with an evil laugh, stole renowned strength coach and motivational ninja Scott Cochran away from Alabama.

Imagine if all decision-makers in sports responded this way to failure.

This should not be taken as some declaration that Georgia is going to win the national championship, or even the SEC title, in 2020. But in the past eight weeks, Smart has exemplified how the steward of a sports program should operate after anything less than a championship. If the Bulldogs don’t win titles, it won’t be because Smart didn’t acknowledge that for as much as he has accomplished in his four seasons, it wasn’t nearly good enough.

There are no guarantees, in football or in life.  But as I wrote after Smart brought Monken on board,

As for Smart himself, again, I’m more impressed by his willingness to challenge himself in how best to manage his program.  I don’t know how Monken works out, but at least we now have evidence that Smart is open-minded about how to achieve success.  And as I also pointed out last week, in hiring two former head coaches to round out his staff, he’s also shown that he’s comfortable with himself.  (Not to mention that in hiring Luke and Monken, both of whom will have an opportunity to rehabilitate their reputations after being fired from their last positions, Kirby’s following a certain process á la Tuscaloosa.)

That last paragraph, more than anything else in this post, is why I’m optimistic about where the program is headed from here.

I don’t know if everything he’s done will work, but I’m impressed he’s trying.

38 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

38 responses to “Credit where credit’s due.

  1. Normaltown Mike

    agreed.

    It would appear no one (other than BigShot and DawginTN) is more disappointed with 2019 and restless for improvement than Kirby.

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  2. Athens Townie

    Good points. Standing by the point that the “Kirby is stubborn” narrative was premature.

    We won’t know how effective these changes are until later, but Kirby sure as hell hasn’t been stubborn as a program manager.

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    • Paul

      I was definitely one who believed that Kirby was being too stubborn. He’s proven me wrong.

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      • Athens Townie

        Props for saying that. There are times when bring proved wrong is the best case scenario.

        I remember making the case (among friends, etc) for keeping Richt for years after things had flattened out post-2008. I was wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Will (the other one)

      I was worried he was too wedded to conservative offense (not necessarily manball, as he had moved on from using a fullback) after the SECCG. Went from dreading the 2020 to as excited as I was after 2017 in a hurry though.
      It’s a coach saying “12-2 with no titles isn’t good enough” which is so satisfying to see.
      Also I wonder if the gamble on Cochran is happening because he’s seen enough of what Monken’s planning to be more confident in the offense.

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  3. Biggus Rickus

    My one quibble would be that his accomplishments the last four years have been NEARLY good enough for the standard being discussed.

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  4. Gurkha Dawg

    I don’t know how Kirby could have had a more productive off season. Now he just needs to let Monken know what he wants out of the offense in general terms and get out of his way.

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    • Just Chuck (The Other One)

      Do you think he will?

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      • Gurkha Dawg

        That’s the 6 million dollar question. I think he will start out giving Monken a long leash but what if the offense has 3 turnovers that cost us the Bama game? Will Kirby bring the offense to heel or continue to let Monken do things his way? I hope he gives Monken every opportunity to build a great offense but who knows.

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  5. MGW

    If you were upset with Kirby after this season, what more or what else could he have done since the sugar bowl to please you (aside from spelling out in detail what his plans are at a press conference)?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. California dawg

    Sorry if the Senator or someone else has previously reported this, but I was listening to the latest episode of the Dawgcast and Jamie “broke” the news that Kirby actually tried to hire Monken right after Cheney left, but Monken when with the open NFL/Browns job.

    I never bought the mantra that Kirby was overly stubborn or allergic to offense or scoring points to protect his defense. If he did indeed try to poach Monken early, that means Coley was a backup option that didn’t pan out. I think he realized early into the season that Coley wasn’t the answer, but there wasn’t much he could do. Reinventing the offense midseason with a young receivers corp wasn’t possible. All he could do is try and limit turnovers while relying on his elite defense. From an outsider’s view, it appeared that Kirby just wanted to play manball, but given who was coaching and scheming his offense, he had no other reliable option.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jim

    One word. Relentless

    Liked by 1 person

    • practicaldawg

      This really is Kirby’s DNA. The “keep chopping” thing sounds gimmicky but it’s just how the man is wired. Will he win a NC? Time will tell. But I’m certain he will be outworked by no one.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. At the end of the season, I wasn’t sure whether Kirby was going to be stubborn or if he would make the right changes. The litmus test for me was whether he allowed Coley to continue as OC. I don’t know that he’s going to win titles, but he’s certainly proven that he’s willing to aggressively pursue them.

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  9. Go Dawgs!

    Agreed. In my tailgate group text, as I was trying to get my buddy to tap the brakes a little on his idea that Scott Cochran = National Title, he said to me, “remember how you felt walking out of the SEC Championship Game and now look at what Kirby has done since then.” And he’s right. Other than figuring out a way to keep Jake Fromm in Athens for his senior year, Kirby has done every single thing I asked for as I was walking past the World Congress Center among celebrating Tigah fans. He fired Coley, he at least appears to be open to the idea of evolution on offense towards a more aggressive style, he has remade his coaching staff, he has recruited the ever-loving heck out of the WR position, and he’s brought in or lined up to be brought in a number of very talented quarterbacks.

    And frankly, I didn’t think he’d do any of that beyond recruiting more talent because I’ve still got PTSD from the Willie Martinez years under Richt when it was obvious who needed to go and it was just as obvious that he wasn’t going anywhere. It’s become readily apparent that Kirby is more like Saban than Richt in terms of staff loyalty versus staff productivity. I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. spur21

    I think Monken will be our OC until he gets an offer to be HC in the NFL. I doubt he has eyes on being a college HC.

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  11. W Cobb Dawg

    I think we’re overlooking that Coley was put in a tough situation with little help from Kirby, Hankton, Hartley, McGee & Pittman. Coley’s become a convenient escape goat. And Fromm was expected to carry a lot more of the load. I think Hankton has a lot to answer for considering last year’s overall WR performance and as passing game coordinator. Coley was a very capable assistant that got promoted beyond his ability. I would’ve preferred he stayed at one of his prior rolls and we jettisoned a less experienced assistant.

    If I’m OC Monken and given the reins to run the O, I’m expecting a much better performance from the offensive assistants (particularly looking at you Hankton).

    But yes, Kirby’s landed on his feet with some excellent moves. I have absolutely no doubt he’s the best in cfb at roster management.

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    • Go Dawgs!

      Not sure if you’re joking, but in case you aren’t it’s “scapegoat” not “escape goat” and “role” not “roll.”

      I’m with you on Hankton and I’ve been somewhat surprised that his name isn’t mentioned a little more often when discussion of the wide receiving group’s mostly underwhelming performance gets discussed. We will see what he does with the bumper crop we’ve got on the way in this year. However, Coley deserves all of the blame that he’s getting for last year’s failures. While I agree that Coley was promoted beyond his ability, it isn’t like that’s not Coley’s fault. He had been an offensive coordinator before and he was active in his pursuit of the opportunity to run Georgia’s offense. And while he certainly can’t be blamed for injuries which hamstrung us or Kirby’s preference to play a “manball” style of offense, he certainly wasn’t doing much on his end to make the situation more tenable. We were the most predictable offense in football. He did virtually nothing with pre-snap motions to disguise what was coming and he did little to scheme open receivers. Coley should not have been given a second year as offensive coordinator at Georgia, that’s for sure.

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    • Russ

      Kudos on “escape goat”. I was worried that lexicon entry would become made up and flagellant.

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    • Cojones

      W Cobb Dawg, you hit all the points perzactly. Been toying with those exact observation for some time (there were supporting people who let Coley down as well as Coley didn’t get them corrected).

      It’s also nice to see some grammar Nazis taking things in stride while we all smile at the fox passes. The grammatical errors are mostly intentional except when someone purposefully ends sentences with prepositional phrases like they used to. We all know where they were coming from.

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      • Mark

        As Winston Churchill is reputed to have said, “Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.”

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        • Got Cowdog

          My favorite. Framers working:
          “Hey! Where’s the saw at?”
          “You can’t end a sentence with a preposition!”
          “Where’s the saw at Asshole!”

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  12. Geezus

    I’ve been fairly consistent in saying that Kirby has 7 million reasons a year to change or evolve if needed. He knows what he is doing, he is not stupid.

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  13. Comin' Down The Track

    It’s worth mentioning that Schultzie has really flourished with The Athletic.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. DawgPhan

    They have won the offseason at a pretty good clip. I like the coaching hires across the board, most seem like upgrades. I guess special team is hard to call an upgrade right now, but that still seems like a good hire. Top recruiting class and tons of returning production on defense.

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  15. MGW

    He is not averse to points or offense at all. Never was. See the very good offenses in 2017 and 2018 for reference.

    But whatever Coley cooked up wasn’t working. Can’t fix that mid year.

    What Kirby is averse to is coming out in a press conference and announcing exactly what he’s thinking and what he’s planning to do. Lot of people decided that meant nothing was going to change.

    Then once things started clearly changing in favor of a far more modern offense, those people for some reason took pride in their previous message board posts and decided to defend them to the bitter end, presuming there would still be no offense simply because, again, Kirby wasn’t going to the podium after every hiring and transfer to say, “Look, see? More offense! That’s what we’re going to do! More offense! Air raid! I swear! And also I’m so sorry and stupid for not scoring more points in 2019, and actually In spite of the numbers, 2017 and 2018 weren’t very good either! I hope SexymanUGA69 will forgive me and offer up more good advice in the future!”

    They’re still out there going “yeah well we’ll see.” Ok then.

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  16. Huntindawg

    I had a smart take one time, but I forget what it were.

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  17. Sports Fan

    Schultz has really gotten better since he left the AJC. Funny how that happens when you’re able to focus on quality instead of hot takes and click bait.

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  18. I like the “motivational ninja” title. Sums up Cochran pretty well.

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