And, so, friends, it’s come to this: Mitch Mustain is asked to explain Lane Kiffin.
ESPN writer tells Booch one key to getting off the hot seat is “…to lighten up or let go of some of the clichés he’s thrown around in recent months like ‘champions of life’ or ‘five-star hearts.'”
What would be the fun in that? Besides, you know a man by the clichés he keeps.
This is good news.
I’ll be interested in seeing the details on how they dodged the bullet on one of the stranger brain farts of 2016.
David Wunderlich offers a tale about Georgia’s in-state recruiting since the 2002 season that provides an interesting contrast between Richt’s final years and Smart’s first two.
We’ve all lamented the disintegration of the 2013 class, but David notes that the class was a disaster not just because of who came and went, but also because of who never made it in the first place.
It didn’t have the lowest percentage on the chart, but the 2013 cycle was the nadir for Richt and in-state recruiting.
The top seven prospects in Georgia went out of state. Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s top recruit, went to Ole Miss; to be fair, his brother already being in Oxford played a role there. Richt lost out on a pair of defensive linemen after that in Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams, guys who anchored Auburn’s defensive renaissance in 2016.
Fourth was Vonn Bell, who went on to star at Ohio State. Fifth and sixth were Alvin Kamara and Tyren Jones, a couple of guys who went to Alabama but didn’t stay long. Kamara eventually ended up a big contributor for Tennessee. Seventh was Demarcus Robinson, who became one of Florida’s top receivers in 2014 and 2015.
Georgia took a quarterback in 2013 with Brice Ramsey. He ended up a better punter than signal caller. Ramsey’s inability to fulfill his 4-star rating is why Georgia got the Greyson Lambert experience after Hutson Mason graduated. Another quarterback from Georgia who came out of high school that year was Alpharetta’s Joshua Dobbs. If 247 Sports has it right, UGA didn’t even offer Dobbs a scholarship.
Further down the list, UGA offered but couldn’t land Loganville’s 4-star running back Wayne Gallman. He and the next year’s 4-star Georgia product Deshaun Watson were obviously a huge part of Clemson’s amazing run the past couple of years.
That’s a lot of whiffing for one class. Granted, the lack of success at running back can be partially attributed to Georgia’s giant haul in 2012 with Gurley and Marshall, but given their history with injuries and suspension, a top-flight back in the 2013 class sure would have been a big help.
Meanwhile, check out Smart’s trend line.
It’s not at Richt’s peak, but it’s certainly headed in the right direction.
That being said, it’s worth pointing out that, as the overall talent pool in this state has grown significantly over the last decade, it’s going to be nearly impossible for Smart to match Richt’s highest percentage levels, as they’re aren’t any more scholarships to offer. What’s going to matter more, anyway, is if Smart can eliminate the dramatic swings that you can see beginning with the 2005 class.
Plateaus can be beautiful things. Especially when they represent two gifts in one.
Even so, UGA secured 11 of the top 16 players within its home territory. Even better, the Bulldogs boxed out a lot of their direct competitors. Rival Auburn had signed 14 combined Peach State blue chips in the previous three cycles, but it only got one this time around. Florida nabbed two blue chips in 2016 but was shut out in 2017. Tennessee had signed at least one Georgia blue chip every year since Lane Kiffin arrived in Knoxville in 2009, but the Vols too came up empty.
Can Smart keep up that level of production? That’s what we’ll have to wait and see.
Judging from these pieces in SI.com and CBSSports.com, I don’t think the national media is jumping on board the Jeff Dantzler train. If that kind of thinking gets picked up by the talking heads at ESPN this summer and fall, that’s gonna make for some tough sledding trying to defend another subpar season without at least a divisional title.
By the way, for those of you who want to argue that Job One for this staff is something other than cobbling together a functional, competent offensive line, there’s this analytic bit to ponder:
… Georgia’s offensive line (it ranked 101st and 113th, respectively, in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards and Power Success Rate statistics in 2016)…
Pretty, that’s not. Time for Mr. Pittman to work his magic.
“[The Dawgs] always have my loyalty, [but] I can think of better uses of my money than the Hartman Fund.”
Unfortunately, McGarity and company do seem to view us fans as merely donors to be solicited continually for more money, rather than customers whose needs must be taken into account. In the wake of this week’s west end zone expansion announcement, I was pretty surprised by the way McGarity essentially blew off Seth Emerson’s question about what is going to be done about the dismal state of many of the stadium restrooms. McGarity noted that the renovation will add two men’s and two women’s restrooms in the west end, as if that somehow is going to help the thousands of folks on the north side of the stadium, where the overwhelmed facilities are just plain disgusting.
As McGarity put it: “You prioritize stuff as they become important.” And, apparently, the fans in the north stands haven’t yet reached that status.
There appears to be a basic disconnect between McGarity and many of the fans supporting UGA’s program.
And, to what should be no one’s surprise, he finds that some of the natives are getting restless.
Mike Keyes is “thinking it’s time to watch from home…..product on the field leaves a lot to be desired. That doesn’t have anything to do with my loyalty. …just a better use of money instead of the Hartman fund.” … Says Scott White: “Reality is, I’m in my 30s and I have very few peers that donate like I do. Most do the pick-and-choose approach [via Stub Hub] you spoke of [as opposed to buying season tickets], and, as time goes on, it becomes more and more appealing.” … Lindsey Kee Portmann complains: “UGA wants more and more money from its loyal fans, I love the Dawgs, but … I think they need to make some readjustments in their budget. Bathrooms need an upgrade & I think they have the cash to do it already. Stop hitting fans with it, in my opinion.” … Paul Germer says he chooses “not to purchase the below-standard food and avoid the unbelievably slow food/drink lines … the bathrooms are a joke.” … David Hubert, who says he’s a long-time season ticket holder, thinks “the fans are the least considered part if the equation. … It is just a matter of time before we drop our 50-yard-line tix in the lower bowl.”
“I love the Dawgs, but…” isn’t what you want to hear as an athletic director, but there’s a sizeable gap between words and actions and I suspect the part of the fan base McGarity counts on financially isn’t prepared to go beyond the grumbling stage yet. The sad thing is if that threshold ever does get crossed by a significant enough number, it’ll take time for Butts-Mehre to realize that and take steps to woo the departed back. At that point, better wi-fi ain’t gonna cut it.
Even assuming a turning point is possible, I’m not sure what the cause for such would be — maybe somebody organizes an effective social media campaign that rouses the fan base, maybe mediocre results on the field drive paying customers away, maybe the facilities degrade to a level similar to what used to characterize Tech’s stadium before it was renovated, I don’t know — but if the athletics administration has to deal with the fall out, is there any reason to think it’ll be any more competent in that setting than it’s been in allowing things to fester as they have?
Needless to say, Greg McGarity has a lot riding on Kirby Smart’s success. A couple of SEC championships would make it a lot easier to sweat the small stuff.
UPDATE: The sad, concise truth from the AJ-C’s Cy Brown.
McGarity, Morehead and Smart have done the simple calculus. You can build a diehard fan base with a winning football team, but you can’t build a winning football team with a diehard fan base. When you win enough games, a lot of people will be willing to put up with long lines at the urinal.
Before we get all “eh, let’s see what Fromm can do” after G-Day, perhaps it’s worth remembering what Jacob Eason was capable of doing as a true freshman quarterback playing in an SEC game.
No, it wasn’t a perfect season by any measure, and, yes, I would have liked to have seen a little more growth towards year’s end, but you don’t toss “crazy arm talent“ like that to the side just because there’s a shiny new toy that’s got your attention.