I knocked Barrett Sallee a little earlier this week for bringing forth the already stale “Kirby Smart’s under pressure from the fan base” preseason talking point. At least, though, Barrett was honest enough to put Lincoln Riley on the same footing as Smart — hell, let’s not forgot who beat whom when the two faced off in the CFP.
Leave it to Stewart Mandel ($$) to turn the volume up to eleven.
Kirby Smart or Lincoln Riley: Which coach has the most pressure going into this season? Both have done great, but the fan bases at each school are not going to be satisfied with conference championships and/or participating in the Playoff. Sooner or later, patience will wane, and usually, that starts the clock ticking. — Mike
… I don’t think Riley is under any pressure at all as long as he keeps dominating the Big 12 and beating Texas more often than not. I could be wrong, but I think Sooners fans will be more frustrated if Oklahoma goes to the Playoff and gets blown out by an SEC team in the semifinal again than if the Sooners go 10-2 and miss it entirely. OU fans are proud enough to believe they should win the national championship more than once in 20 years, but also realistic enough to realize how good they’ve got it.
Most importantly, longtime AD Joe Castiglione realizes that. He never flinched when Bob Stoops had the occasional 8-5 season, and that will be the case with Riley as well unless there’s a more-than-one-year blip.
Georgia is another story because Smart himself has created a national championship-or-bust expectation level with his tremendous recruiting. Georgia sits at No. 1 in the country in 247Sports’ team talent composite rankings, so it’s understandable why Bulldogs fans think they should finish an actual season No. 1 at some point.
But, one step at a time. First Georgia needs to actually win the SEC again (it won in 2017), which will require either beating Alabama for the first time under Smart or beating someone else in the SEC West that was good enough to beat Alabama. I would think that checking off that box, regardless of what happens in the CFP, would be considered a successful season.
But if Georgia, despite finally having a legitimate star quarterback (who hasn’t transferred yet) in JT Daniels, goes 10-2 again and either loses to Florida and misses the SEC title game or gets there and loses, that will truly be a test of fans’ patience. Mind you, that’s still a pretty good season, but the CFP has changed the way fan bases like Georgia’s measure success. Mark Richt made it 15 years in Athens without ever reaching a BCS title game. Smart made it to the national title game in his second season and is hardly getting a statue built for him just yet.
Sigh. There must be something in the water in Montana.