What’s the third option?

Here’s a point/counterpoint for your morning:

Aside from Jim Harbaugh, Kirby Smart gets the most scrutiny from the media.

Farrell’s take: FACT. Between the infamous fake punt against Alabama in the 2018 SEC title game, losing to the Crimson Tide earlier that year in the national title game where many felt he was outcoached, his handling of Justin Fields and the regression of Jake Fromm, Smart has been the subject of near constant media criticism. He has been recruiting off the hook, but his coaching ability is routinely questioned and that puts him second to Jim Harbaugh on my list.

Gorney’s take: FICTION. Smart has actually gotten a pass from the media on some bad decisions – many of them mentioned above – including when Georgia inexplicably lost to South Carolina at home last season. It’s almost universally accepted that Smart is recruiting so well and he has such a good staff that a national championship at some point is inevitable. I don’t think he gets much scrutiny at all. It’s a different story for Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and USC’s Clay Helton, so I’d say those three trail Harbaugh in this category.

Not sure I buy either take, to be honest.  I don’t think Smart’s gotten a pass from the media, but I don’t see him being the subject of ongoing media criticism, either.

Just like most coaches, he’s made his mistakes.  But almost every media ranking of coaches I’ve seen has him at least in the top ten, and usually the top five, nationally.

What’s your feeling?


Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

23 responses to “What’s the third option?

  1. Derek

    The results and the recruiting rankings have plastered over some of the dumbest in game decisions I’ve ever seen:

    thetoss sweep to McKenzie vs. Vandy
    the onside kick vs. USC
    the fake fg at LSU
    the fake punt vs. Bama

    The first fake he ran as HC vs. TCU was perfectly timed and executed. Might have given him too much confidence because those three were really really bad.

    The only comparable calls I can think of from CMR were in his first year:

    running the ball with no to’s vs. Auburn
    punting with about 1:30 on the clock vs. BC.

    Of course in overall program building CKS is running circles around CMR.


    • Harold Miller

      Yes, but why do some many in the media have a boner over Mullen? I just don’t get it.


      • Derek

        Who knows? There were people around here who wanted Mullen to replace CMR. We don’t hear much from them about that now.


  2. Otto

    Both takes are accurate, some media members are high on Smart others are not. Whatever, the media has done, hard to argue the recruits and vast majority of the fan base are happy which are more important than what some guy on with his own call in show or twitter account think.


  3. Russ

    He’s achieved at a high level starting out his career (save the “throwaway season”). He came from the Saban school so he was always going to get scrutiny. That said, I don’t think he gets undue scrutiny or criticism. Given his high profile, he gets what he deserves in my book. Some are too harsh, but that’s nature of the beast.


  4. MGW

    Not to dismiss any of them, but you can point to bad in game decisions like you can point to that one player missing that one last tackle or missing the last second field goal; it mattered a whole lot but it was one of dozens of mistakes made throughout a game, any one of which could’ve taken the game the other way and made that bad call matter a whole lot less. It’s just “the one” that stands out.

    A few costly bad in game decisions here and there…. but that ain’t the reason we don’t have a title. The reality is that all the rest of what Kirby has done is why we were ever in contention in those games in the first place.

    The only real big one to me is the mistake of making Coley the OC. It was a gamble and Kirby lost. Now he’s done pretty much all you can do to fix it.

    But nuance doesn’t get clicks, so aside from articles like the linked one posted here that are basically commentary on other people’s editorials, you don’t hear much of it in the media. You’re going to hear those polarized opinions because that’s just kinda how it works.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Athens Townie

      Hear, hear. Well said.

      Boneheaded plays, though memorable, are not all that informative. The structural stuff matters more than a few memorable play calls: getting your staff and assistant coaches right, managing the roster, keeping up with or staying ahead of your competitors, handling the administrative constituencies to get what you need for the program, etc.

      Kirby excels at the structural stuff. And he’s very green as a head coach. I agree that Kirby’s biggest error thus far was Coley. It was a Martinez-esque hire. Difference is, after one season, Kirby went all out to fix it. He’s been proactive and aggressive across the board.

      I’d say Kirby is top five because there are very, very few coaches I’d rather have at Georgia.


  5. mddawg

    The third option would be some computer-savvy individual writing an algorithm to scour the internet and determine which coaches actually do receive the most scrutiny from the media. Then we’d know for sure whether this is fact or fiction.

    But the real question is whether the scrutiny is warranted or not. Considering he’s getting paid millions of dollars per year to coach the state’s flagship Power 5 university in one of the most fertile recruiting regions in the country, I’d say it justifies him being under a microscope a bit.


  6. Texas Dawg

    People tend to forget that at ANY level, Kirby only has a few years of HC experience. He has had the opportunity to get a lot of understudy work form some of the best however. Kelly, Malzahn, and especially Harbaugh have years of HC experience so they should be more heavily scrutinized for their screw ups. Kirby should not get a pass, but he should not be judged as harshly for mistakes/misjudgements made in the first few years as he should and will be as he gets more years of HC experience behind him.


  7. FlyingPeakDawg

    It’s coming. Can’t keep winning recruiting titles and not titles on the field. A loss to Bama in season will amp up that drumbeat. Only one way to solve it (if you can really call it a problem) and that’s to win the SEC again.


  8. The fake kicks were flat out dumb errors in judgment … it happens to all of us.

    Kirby is in one of the highest profile jobs in his chosen profession. His relative inexperience doesn’t give him a pass when he makes a mistake. He does need to eliminate the in-game errors. Generally, the talent he has recruited can bail him out of high risk, high reward in-game decisions. It’s truly the only gripe you can have with him at this point.

    We have gone 40-9 since his decision to use Isaiah McKenzie as a running back against Vandy. He has grown into the role of head coach. I’ll take him right now over every active college head coach in the profession save one … Nick Saban.


    • Macallanlover

      BS on lumping the fake kicks together. LSU was a screw-up in both play design and situation(timing in game). Bama was an intelligent design based on 1st hand knowledge by KS, and I am ambivalent about the timing of when it was used Total problem was with personnel used, but more with execution. Play was open but Fields failed to abort when Bama reacted. That one was on Fields, he choked but KS didn’t throw him under the bus, but fans throw Kirby under. Figures. The play was practiced the whole week, you would think a QB wouldn’t freeze (although my money is on JF wanting to play hero and make the play. I get the ego and frustration part but feel he put the spotlight over the team. Probably didn’t change the outcome either way, imo, but Smart shouldn’t get the bad rap.)

      I think KS probably out coached Nick in both games, all things considered. Refs stole the first game from UGA, no doubt, although Smart should have called timeout before 2nd and 26 and also took his foot off the gas midway through the 4th QTR. Second game we almost pulled a big upset, they were a much better team than UGA that year. Our guys played well, especially the offense. I just don’t think we would have gotten a W in the playoff, even if we had won the SEC. Sometimes you have the tip your hat and admit the other guy was better.

      Games I think KS’ s coaching decisions probably cost us the W was 2016 Vandy on the last offensive play for UGA, not going for the FG against SC, not calling a timeout on 2nd and 26, and the defensive set and not attacking Dobbs The Alien on the TN Hail Mary play. He is Top 5 in recruiting, preparation for games, and overall coaching ability, imo.


      • The fake in both games was a high risk, high reward play. You are correct about the LSU fake. It was poor across the board. The Bama fake was called at the wrong time. The design was good and based on the 2012 fake, but the play was destined to fail once Bama made the adjustment when they determined #1 was in the game (remember Artie Lynch was the protector in 2012 and threw the pass). Either Kirby or Fields should have called time out rather than run the play. I personally would have given my defense a chance to get a stop with field position and the clock on our side. At worst, take the 5 yard delay of game penalty once Bama diagnosed and reacted to the line-up of the fake.

        I can see your perspective, but I thought the timing was wrong and the real time reaction was poor on the field and on the sideline.


  9. Bay Area Dawg

    How Clay Helton still has a job is beyond me. Just look at his recruiting ranking since he took over.

    2016 – #10
    2017 – #4
    2018 – #4
    2019 – #19
    2020 – #54

    Not to mention he has gone 13-12 the past two seasons.


  10. W Cobb Dawg

    We’d of been better served if the media concentrated on the terrible officiating in the championship against bama.

    While I’m on the subject of Nick & Tua, how about the genius decision to leave Tua in the game with a huge lead so he could pad his stats? One could argue that cost them a shot at a playoff slot. On the flipside, we beat scu and we’re still facing the LSU juggernaut in the secc.


  11. DawgPhan

    Seems like most folks sort of classify Smart as a great recruiter and a good coach. The top 10 rankings lists basically come down to how important the writer considers the recruiting part to being a great coach.


    • In the college game – I’ll take the guy that consistently gets the best players. Hell – straight from the GOAT’s mouth:

      “Do you think you’ve hired the best coach in the country?” the 55-year-old Saban asked Moore.

      By this time, with Moore’s agonizing, month-long quest to pry Saban away from the Miami Dolphins having finally come to fruition, the AD was feeling a bit punch-drunk. He still didn’t know his new coach very well, still found him hard to read.

      “Why, Nick, of course I do,” Moore said, while thinking to himself: For $4 million a year, I sure as hell hope so.

      “Well, you didn’t—I’m nothing without my players,” Saban said, locking eyes with Moore. “But you did just hire a helluva recruiter.”


  12. Ricky McDurden

    The biggest scrutiny Smart seems to incur in the media is a constant comparison to Mullen who inexplicably holds some magic standing in media members minds because he was ranked #1 for a few weeks at MSU. Their resumes aren’t even close, nor are the head to head results on the field.


    • I also think Smart vs. MuLLLet is a constant comparison is the fact that many believed Dopey Dan was going to be Richt’s replacement and the fact that the Portal Master is in Hogtown.


  13. papadawg

    The media don’t give Saban enuf credit Pawllll!


  14. UGA '97

    ill take agressive play call by a young HC, over 10 men on the field , wristband problems causing wasted timeouts, clock mismanagement, crap that for decades Gus, Mullen, Saban, et al make every season.