Tag Archives: Kirby Smart

Alex, I’ll take SEC coaching analogies for $200.

Is this year’s “Georgia hired Kirby Smart to be the next Nick Saban” going to be “Tennessee hired Jeremy Pruitt to be the next Kirby Smart”?  Barrett Sallee takes off down that path.

But Pruitt is still a first-time coach who’s going to make rookie coach mistakes. He’ll forget to call for the punt team, mismanage the clock, unnecessarily use timeouts and do all of the other things that first-timers might plan for, but struggle with when it comes down to execution.

It even happened with Kirby Smart at Georgia in his first year in 2016, and he was with Nick Saban at Alabama and the NFL‘s Miami Dolphins for a full decade. One year later, those two were squaring off for all the marbles.

Easy peasy.  Although he goes on to qualify, “That’s not to say that Pruitt will follow in Smart’s footsteps.”

Sallee sees a rockier (topped?) road for Pruitt than Smart had because the talent base he inherits in Knoxville is at a lower level than what Smart started with — amazing how Georgia’s incredible disappearing class of 2013 is already a faded memory — and because UT’s S&C program needs a complete rebuild.  I’m skeptical on both fronts about the comparisons, but I do think starting out Pruitt has a harder row to hoe than Smart did in one important aspect:  the SEC East in 2018 is a tougher neighborhood than the one Smart moved into a couple of seasons ago.

That being said, if the Vols aren’t playing in the 2019 SECCG, expect the Smart comparisons to crop up in Knoxville.  And not in a good way.



Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

Today, in what a difference a year makes

A year ago, if you looked at one of those ubiquitous coach rankings, Kirby Smart showed up in the lower half, whether it was for the SEC of D-1 as whole.  Now, you see stuff like this:


  • Nick Saban (Alabama) – Six national titles. Successfully held off the heir apparent by making a personnel change that no one without Nick Saban-level job security would. Is still Nick Saban.
  • Kirby Smart (Georgia) – Technically is not Nick Saban…but still. Kirby is hoarding elite quarterbacks like my father hoards soy sauce and hot mustard packets. Clearly that team has all the talent it needs to be a juggernaut and keeps bringing in more. It’s only a matter of time before they are the big bully of the conference.

Those “Dan Mullen is the second-best coach in the SEC” takes seem kind of quaint now, don’t they?


Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

The secret of their success

There are going to be a lot of tired takes on the Saban-Smart face off over the next few days.  Gentry Estes, who covered Alabama and Georgia, doesn’t write one of them.

Saban has, of course, since built one of college football’s all-time great dynasties at Alabama. The Crimson Tide has won four national titles under Saban and will play for a fifth Monday night against Georgia in Atlanta.

Yet the secret to Saban’s success at Alabama hasn’t been much of a secret. Sure, his teams are well-coached. They tend to be physical, disciplined, machine-like in execution.

But they also have better players than everyone else.

In terms of an old debate in college football circles — is it X’s and O’s or Jimmies and Joes? — Saban’s Alabama dominance has been very much about the latter. It’s not much more complicated than that.

“The plays are great, the schemes are great, all that stuff,” former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin said earlier this season. “But, look, the coaches keep coming and changing, coordinators, offense, defense, everything, Kirby (Smart). All the guys change over time. At the end of the day, it’s great players. And it’s not because it’s Alabama. It’s him. It’s because he works harder at recruiting than anybody in the country, and that’s why.

“Everybody says, ‘Oh, well, he’s got better players than everybody.’ Well, they didn’t just show up there. They came there because of how he recruited them. He outworked people and showed them why to come there and why to play for him.”

If you’re a Georgia fan, that sounds very familiar right now.


Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules

“He knows what it’s like to not make it.”

Nice Dennis Dodd piece on Kirby coming to Georgia:

“He always wanted Georgia,” said a member of Smart’s inner circle standing outside the locker room. “He never knew if he was going to get it.”

That changed after Alabama’s national championship in 2015. The planets aligned. Richt was fired, and the search extended all the way to one guy.

“The first day he came and spoke to us, he was busy with Alabama winning the championship,” tailback Nick Chubb said. “He just looked exhausted. We’re like, ‘Man, what’s this man been up to?'”

Now we know.


Filed under Georgia Football

Danielson: “Kirby took the high road”.

Gary thinks Kirby is jonesing for another shot at Malzahn.


Filed under Georgia Football

We got nothin’.

Kirby, on Malzahn’s “We whipped the dog crap out of them, didn’t we?” post-game glee:

“I’ll be honest with you, I think when you perform the way they did on the field, you earn the right to say really whatever you want,” Smart said. “I don’t get into what Gus says and he probably doesn’t get into what I say.”

He’s right.  The only way to answer that is to return the favor the next time you play ’em.


Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Georgia Football

Oh, what might have been. And what may be.

When it comes to Auburn’s hiring decision in the wake of Chizik’s departure, Kevin Scarbinsky weaves an intriguing tale.

Look at the facts alone, and it’s tempting to say Auburn made a mistake when it chose Malzahn over Smart. The truth is more elusive.

After talking to people familiar with Auburn’s 2012 coaching search then and now, it’s possible to draw two conclusions. Malzahn was the preferred if not preordained choice from the start. Smart had too many demands and issues for Auburn’s taste.

One example: Smart wanted full control to hire his own staff. As logical as that requirement may seem, Auburn decision-makers were used to having significant input in that regard. They had identified Malzahn as the offensive coordinator they wanted on Chizik’s staff.

A person familiar with Smart’s Auburn interview said he told the search committee, if hired, he would tap longtime friend Mike Bobo as offensive coordinator. The committee didn’t like that idea, given Bobo’s mixed results as a playcaller at Georgia.

Another 2012 concern: Auburn’s inner circle feared that, if Georgia were to part company with Mark Richt in the near future, Smart would leave Auburn for Athens in a heartbeat to take his dream job as head coach at his alma mater.

Throw in Smart’s demands that he get a full accounting of the NCAA’s investigation of Auburn at the time and that, if hired, he be allowed to coach the Alabama defense through the BCS Championship Game – neither of which was acceptable to Auburn – and there were simply too many obstacles for both sides to overcome.

That’s interesting in terms of looking back — Smart and Bobo at Auburn?  Would Smart Bobo leave Richt for a lateral hire, even if the powers that be at Auburn relented? — in terms of looking to the present — Georgia was a lot more compliant in the face of similar demands than was Auburn — and, finally, the future.

I mentioned it before, and Seth Emerson touches on the potential financial aspects here, but the offseason negotiations between Smart and McGarity (and their surrounding casts) will be something else, I suspect.


Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Georgia Football