Here’s a story that says much about college football media and the way it goes about reshaping the focus of the game from its traditional regional scope to a national one, for better or worse.
The morning after Scott Cochran was hired by Kirby Smart, I appeared on Peter Burns and Chris Doering’s nationally syndicated radio show “SEC This Morning.” We talked about the hiring and what it meant, and if as a Georgia fan I had any concern about Kirby hiring Cochran for his first on-field position. There are plenty of people who would love to do a radio hit with Peter and Chris that do this for a living, and it was very kind of them to have me on.
Towards the end of the interview, Peter asked me a question that caught me off-guard. I don’t have the exact quote recorded, but his question was something along these lines… “Considering the fact that Kirby Smart seems to have all of the pieces in place that a college football coach needs to win, from the facilities to the star recruits and budget to hire whoever he wants for his coaching staff, are Georgia fans starting to get frustrated with the lack of a national title? Is his seat going to start warmIng if Georgia doesn’t win a national title next season?”
I only wish he’d had the presence of mind to shoot back with “Warming? Whom would you suggest as a replacement?”
This is kind of a “what have the Romans done for us lately” list, but somebody needs to explain to me what we’re supposed to be bitching about when it comes to the resume Smart has already crafted:
- Managed his roster in a way that Georgia has the highest ratio of blue-chip players of any team in college football.
- Hired the most important and tenured assistant from the team that has been his biggest hindrance to winning a national title.
- Signed the nation’s #1 recruiting class in 2018 and 2020
- Signed the nation’s #2 recruiting class in 2019
- Signed the nation’s #3 recruiting class in 2017
- Created enough momentum and faith to get upgrades approved to Georgia’s facilities. UGA put in new locker rooms in Sanford Stadium as part of an overhaul of the West End Zone and a 80 million dollar revamp of the Butts-Mehre building
- Won the 2017 SEC Championship while coming within a defensive stop of a national title
- Captured three straight SEC Eastern Division Titles
- 14-2 against Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, South Carolina and Georgia Tech over the last three seasons
- Beat Tennessee 41-0 on their home field (look I know this doesn’t really matter to most but I was there and hearing chants of “U-G-A” echo around Neyland Stadium with over 20 minutes left in the game was one of the best things ever). [Emphasis added.]
If there is supposed frustration over Kirby’s failure to get over the final hump, it’s only because he’s built the framework to get the program as close as it’s already gotten and, along the way, accomplished the kind of stuff that very few of his predecessors could similarly claim.
The highlighted portions of that list should be a daily cause for celebration for Dawgnation. That we’re expected to brush those aside as insignificant because Smart enters his fifth season without a national championship ring on his hand is almost insulting. But not surprising these days.