Tag Archives: Kirby Smart

A few more thoughts on Georgia’s scheduling news

I wanted to unpack a couple more things from yesterday’s announcement about Georgia beefing up its future scheduling.  First, here’s how what we’ve had confirmed plays out:

2019: Notre Dame, at Georgia Tech

2020: vs. Virginia (in Atlanta), Georgia Tech

2021: at Georgia Tech

2022: vs. Oregon (in Atlanta), Georgia Tech

2023: at Georgia Tech, at Oklahoma (not official yet)

2024: vs. Clemson (in Atlanta), Georgia Tech

2025: at UCLA, at Georgia Tech

2026: UCLA, Georgia Tech

2027: at Florida State, at Georgia Tech

2028: Florida State, at Texas, Georgia Tech

2029: Texas, at Clemson, at Georgia Tech

2030: Clemson, at Georgia Tech

2031: Georgia Tech

2032: Clemson, at Georgia Tech

2033: at Clemson, Georgia Tech

Add in one more home game with Oklahoma, and that’s really something.

Now, I like to think I have a decent grasp of how Kirby’s football mind works, and while I have little reason to believe this wasn’t a primary consideration behind the push…

… I do not doubt for a moment that he offered this ($$) sincerely.

They also believe that in an era of dwindling attendance for weaker opponents, Georgia fans will respond well to strong home-and-home agreements. “We think that’s going to be the lay of the land,” Smart said. “The fan, what they’re asking for and what they’re paying for tickets, they want to see those kinds of games.”

This is, in all facets, one of those rare win-win-win situations, good for recruiting, for the fan base and for the box office.

It’s pretty obvious from these comments (as well as the few tepid remarks McGarity added), that Kirby is driving this particular train.  He deserves a ton of credit for getting B-M to abandon its knee-jerk approach to scheduling seven home games regardless of the number of cupcakes it takes to get there.  Raising the quality of the schedule is good for business, because at its heart, it’s a fan-friendly call.

Certainly there’s a greater risk of losing a game as a result, but Smart deserves credit for embracing that risk.

“We’re not running from Power 5s,” Smart said. “(The selection committee) has proven that later games in the year have more impact on who makes the Playoff, so if you can get a Power 5 team late in your schedule, I’m talking the last three or four weeks, you’ve got a chance to spike and send yourself into that conversation.”

It’s not exactly on point, but that strikes me as somewhat echoing the calculated move Bobby Bowden made with FSU’s “we’ll play anyone” scheduling approach early in his tenure in order to elevate the national perception of that program.  That canny decision worked as intended, and it’ll be interesting to see if this move pays similar dividends with the selection committee’s appraisal of Georgia in the coming years.

Mike Griffith makes this point with regard to another position Smart has taken:

Smart, a former All-SEC safety at Georgia himself, has been a proponent of a nine-game SEC schedule, too.

“I’ve always been in favor or a nine-game schedule, (but) it’s not my decision to make,” Smart said last October, asked his thoughts on adding another league game with respect to the fact that UGA made its first trip to LSU since 2008 and under the current model wouldn’t be in Baton Rouge again until 2030.

“I think it (would be) a good thing, but I think you will have teams with more losses,” Smart said. “Does it affect a team getting in the playoff? I don’t know, but I know you have a lot more games to get up for, a lot more good rivalry games.

“It’s not just about traveling, it’s just as much about the atmosphere of playing an SEC opponent, I think you are playing more comparable teams to your talent level, I think it’s important for college football.”

You’re preaching to the choir there, Kirby.

Of course, the difference is that upgrading the home-and-homes only takes McGarity’s consent; a nine-game conference schedule is a matter above McGarity’s paygrade.  (Yeah, yeah, keep your snarky comment to yourself here.)  But again, from a business standpoint, over the long-term it makes more sense because it gives the fans more product to be engaged with.  Will Georgia take a more public lead in getting the rest of the conference to change its mind?  It would sure beat the hell out of Michael Adams’ crusades.

Which brings me to what provided the most impetus for this post.  You may recall that Nick Saban has groused a good bit about students cutting out early from Alabama’s routine seal-clubbing of cupcakes.  While you might think that a schedule upgrade would be the most obvious way to fix some of that, apparently that’s not how they think in Tuscaloosa.  This is how they think.

An email sent Monday to every corner of the University of Alabama campus had Nick Saban’s fingerprints all over it.

The message from the school’s athletic department alerted students about their options for buying tickets, informing them of their eligibility for both full and split packages that included a select number of home games.

There was also a section outlining the prices — $20 for an SEC matchup and $15 for one of those rent-a-win affairs.

Then, at the very end, was a note describing a new initiative called “Tide Loyalty Points.”

“Through the Tide Loyalty Points program, students will earn points for attending home football games and for their support in the 4th quarter,” the email read. “Those points will contribute to students’ priority access to regular and postseason tickets.”

What a grim way to get kids — you know, the folks you hope will turn into future season ticket holders one day — to hang around long enough to satisfy the head coach.  That’s meant literally, by the way.

“Look, our players work too hard and they deserve to have everything and people supporting them in every way and have tremendous spirit for what they’ve done,” Saban said last fall. “And they might not be able to continue to do it and we’re going to work hard to continue that but there’s a part of it that other people need to support them, too. And there has to be a sprit that makes it special to play here because that’s what makes it special to be here. And it that’s not here, does it continue to be special to be here or not? That’s the question everybody has to ask and I’m asking it right now.”

Admittedly, I’ve done my share of mocking the way Kirby has tried to turn the fan base into a G-Day prop for recruiting, but he’s never pretended that the program is entitled to fan support in the way that Saban proposes.  When it comes to spending my money and my passion, if I’ve got to choose between a place that’s made a conscious decision to chase both by offering a higher level of entertainment in the competitive sense and a place that makes it an almost joyless obligation… well, that’s not really much of a choice.

I never thought I’d see the day when I could honestly say that the Georgia football program has approached something in a way more worthy of respect than Alabama has, but here we are.  At least in one area, the pupil has clearly surpassed the master.  Thanks, Kirby.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules

Kirby’s presser

Something old.

Something new.

(Somebody’s been reading some Bill Connelly, it appears.)

Something borrowed (from PAWWWLLL!!!).

(Of course, he doesn’t say whether he has a relationship issue with anyone else in Tuscaloosa, so I guess we’ll await further news from Finebaum.)

Something blue.

I didn’t think it was possible, but Mr. Impose Your Will has managed to make Mike Bobo and Mike Leach spin simultaneously in their graves.  Rhetorically speaking, that is.

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Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya…

PAWWWLLL!!! has a little shit-stirring he’d like to share with everyone.

Finebaum was a recent guest on the Cellini & Dimino show on 680 The Fan and explained why the two SEC coaches won’t likely be exchanging Christmas cards anytime soon.

“Remember, Kirby Smart spent all those years under Nick Saban. He knows what it is like to be an assistant. Even though he was his top assistant, Saban does not treat his assistants well, in fact, he treats them shabbily,” Finebaum said on the show. “And I think Kirby left there and there was a lot of fingerpointing toward Kirby, as you guys have heard.

“Even though they won the championship (in 2016), Alabama gave up nearly 40 points to Clemson. They pointed towards Kirby and what really created the friction that exists to this day is that Alabama officials and coaches blame Kirby Smart for ripping off the inner sanctum recruiting room — which is in Saban’s office. If you go to the secondary office where they keep all the prospects, what I mean by that, Kirby went to recruits and said, ‘Hey listen. We want you, you are No. 1 on our list but I know for a fact Alabama has you third or fourth or fifth.’ And that cost Alabama some key recruits and they have not forgiven Kirby Smart yet in Tuscaloosa.”

Yeah, Alabama’s recruiting has really suffered since Smart decamped for Athens.  Jesus, these people whine.  What’s gonna happen should the pupil finally beat the master?

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Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules

Now do McGarity.

Mr. Conventional Wisdom’s Q&A with Coach Impose Your Will is every bit the hard-hitting bland, keenly insightful cliché-ridden, top-notch journalism coach speak PR exercise you’d expect.

Q. Was it difficult for your team to focus after Alabama? It’s a hard position when you miss out on the playoffs after a tough loss.

Smart: “I’ve been there twice when I was at Alabama that when you went from playing for everything to playing for the Sugar Bowl championship. That (winning the Sugar Bowl) should be enough. If you’re a competitor and you have inner drive and you have ‘want to’…..

“We’ve can all make excuses for players being out or juniors coming out early or injuries and all that. It doesn’t matter. You’re playing Texas in the Sugar Bowl.

“You get over your wounds. Obviously they did a better job. I do think them having nine seniors on defense speaks volumes as to who they are.”

On the plus side, at least you don’t have to pay anything to read it.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Mr. Conventional Wisdom

Today, in where are they now

This Kipp Adams piece on what’s happened with every recruit who decommitted from Georgia since Smart’s hire is a fascinating read.  With just a few exceptions, like Plumlee and Emory, almost every kid who left was replaced by someone either higher ranked or more specifically suited for the program’s needs.  It’s a running testament to roster management.

It’s also a reminder that recruiting is about relationships.

Four-star wide receiver Devonta Smith (Amite, La./Amite) committed on Aug. 10, 2015, when Georgia hired Sam Petitto, a former high school coach in Louisiana. When Smart hired new support staff and Alabama hired Petitto on January 14, Smith de-committed from Georgia the same day. Smith played in every game as a freshman for Alabama in 2017, making eight catches for 160 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning pass in the national championship against Georgia in overtime. In 2018, Smith made 42 catches for 693 yards and six touchdowns. Georgia would will his spot with Trey Blount.

Yeah, that one wound up stinging a little.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

“There’s no incompetent group among our staff.”

Kirby doesn’t exactly sound torn up about not bringing Eddie Gran to Athens (assuming for the sake of argument that was ever in the cards, of course).

Coley, who coaches the quarterbacks, was picked to run the offense after three seasons on staff. The former Miami offensive coordinator replaces Jim Chaney, who left to be coordinator at Tennessee.

“I like the energy he brings,” Smart said. “He’s got enthusiasm for the players. Players ultimately play for coaches and the relationship you have with them and the drive you have with them is important. Now, so is scheme, so is getting guys to buy in and maybe not doing too much and keeping things exciting for the players. There’s a fine line in those things and James has been around really good coaches throughout his whole career and understands what it takes to win, especially in this conference. He’s been around it for a long time so we’re excited about him bringing some new energy.”

Lanning replaces Mel Tucker, who served as coordinator for all three of Smart’s seasons as head coach. He landed the head coaching job at Colorado.

Lanning just finished his first season at Georgia as outside linebackers coach.

Smart downplayed the process of having to replace both of his coordinators.

“It’s really probably overrated,” Smart said. “I think the media has made a lot bigger deal of it than it actually is. At the end of the day when you sit in the seat that I sit in, we’re responsible for both sides of the ball and special teams. So if you sit in those meetings, obviously it’s important to have good leadership but it’s done by a group of men who do it together.

In the end, it’s Smart’s world and his assistants are just living in it.

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He doesn’t write; he doesn’t call.

For those of you who have worried about Kirby Smart’s lack of public comment so far this year, maybe he’s just been too busy otherwise.

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Filed under Georgia Football