He’s right, you know. We’ve entered the era of the empowered player and that gives Jermaine Burton the freedom to decide what’s best for him and Nick Saban the option to provide that.
But that’s not so much the point to this post. I really wanted to respond to a comment last night and didn’t want to bury it in a comment thread.
First of all, I’ve got to say I’ve been waiting 15 years or so to find out whether it would be possible for a GTP reader to be irritated with a head coach after winning a national championship. It seems it is, so I appreciate getting that question answered. But I digress.
As for the meat of his criticism, well, Mark Richt cured me of being emotionally invested in a Georgia coach. Kirby isn’t infallible. He had a piss poor game plan on defense for the SECCG and I said so at the time. I’m sure there will be mistakes made in the future. He’s human and that’s how it works.
Further, if Burton stays healthy this season, he may produce at the level suggested in the comment. If he does, more power to him. He will have made the proverbial business decision and it will have paid off for him.
To all of which I can only say, so what? I only care about statistics and coaching decisions to the extent they pay off in wins and losses and, in this particular case, whether it ultimately pays off with a national title. So, for me this only matters if Jermaine Burton turns out to be the difference between Alabama winning a natty and Georgia winning one. Color me skeptical 2022 turns on that.
But, more importantly, think about what an attitude like this is really saying about the season that just took place. Should Kirby Smart have changed the offense to suit the desires of Burton, such that he would have found it in his best interest to stay in Athens for another season? What if he’d instructed Monken to do so and the change had cost Georgia the natty? Would it have been worth it?
There’s also something Graham brought up that I’d thought about when Burton announced he was entering the portal:
No, not the Saban quote, the fact that Burton’s led a nomadic football life. (Don’t forget he switched late in his recruiting from LSU to Georgia.) Some people can’t settle down. How much should a head coach cater to that?
Part of Burton’s frustration stems from him being injured. Part of it stems from seeing production that would have gone his way shifted to others who stepped up when he was injured. And part, no doubt, stems from Kirby Smart’s philosophy on how to build a championship contender. Last season, Alabama attempted eleven more passes a game than did Georgia. Jermaine Burton may not have liked that. Some of you may not have liked that. Me, I didn’t care because in the end Georgia was the team that got to hoist the trophy.
Smart’s won a natty. But for a busted coverage, he’d have two right now. Jermaine Burton or no Jermaine Burton, that’s gonna earn the benefit of the doubt from me. I said after the SECCG that Smart’s first decision wasn’t whether to bench Bennett in favor of Daniels, but whether he believed his defense would bounce back such that Bennett’s play wouldn’t crack under the pressure of playing chase to an opponent’s dynamic offense.
Kirby got that right. Who’s to say right now that after the preseason he won’t have as good a handle on what it will take for Georgia to succeed in 2022, even if Burton racks up big numbers at ‘Bama? Not me.
If Burton’s departure affects your perception of what this program has accomplished and will accomplish, that’s your problem. As I suggested to someone in the comments the other day, maybe you’d be happier playing fantasy college football than following Georgia football.