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SMITH: Getting it right

October 01, 2021 - 01:00
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Like a sudden snap of the fingers, a third of the college football season has been completed. It seems that time is advancing with greater alacrity than ever in the past.

It was not all that long ago that there seemed to be more of a measured pace with the playing of this great college game. The fall seemed to walk. It didn’t run. Now it sprints. The initial weekend in September, we get underway with the first game, which is a reminder that in the past, the players did not report until Labor Day weekend.

Getting to the top is one thing. Staying there is another. They are swooning in Fayetteville, Arkansas today, but carping in nearby Clemson. They are scratching their heads in Columbus, Ohio, and Southern California had enough of Clay Helton two games into the season. Nothing is swifter on a college campus than alumni discontent—not even the fastest running back in the country can match disgruntled grads and aficionados. Since Pete Carroll left the Trojans, following the 2009 season, USC has had five head coaches including interims.

They can’t seem to get it right in Austin, Texas. Not sure how to evaluate the current head coach Steve Sarkisian, who obviously has succeeded in the big time. He arrived in Austin with affiliations which bode well for his latest team, but he also showed up with baggage. Obviously, time will tell if he has the right stuff.

How can you not get it right at Texas? If you evaluate all the schools in the country, the view here is that none has more potential than that of the Longhorns. There are players upon players in the Lone Star state. There is tradition and, most of all, there is abundant money. The only thing that can slow down the revenue streams at Texas and Texas A&M is the electric car but that seems to be “down the road.”

Florida certainly has assets, recruiting base and weather. Georgia has plenty of that, too. While the Bulldogs, like many other schools, recruit nationally such as Alabama and Clemson lately, succeeding long term is enhanced by home state recruiting advantage.

The Bulldogs are on the way to establishing an exceptional facility complex. The Bulldog constituency has been generous over the years, but there needs to be a commitment of legacy donors, moving forward.

One of the things, Sam Pittman, coach of Georgia’s next opponent, immediately noticed was that Bulldog fans “really travel well.” He had not seen fans flock to out of town sites that surpassed that of UGA.

Not sure of the attendance figures from last week’s game in Nashville, but the dominant color at Dudley Field, both sides of the stadium, was flaming red. A friend living in South Bend, says that Notre Dame still talks about the excessive number of Georgia fans, who showed up for the game with the Irish at Notre Dame Stadium in 2017.

Georgia’s incumbent coach has remarkable vision and influences giving at all levels, which stimulates overt passion. He is as organized as he possibly could be. Eisenhower could have used him when the Supreme Allied Commander was planning the D-Day invasion.

Kirby’s recruiting acumen is unparalleled. His energy level is pent-house-like—always at the top. He is smart, he is savvy and he is keenly balanced. While he is enthusiastic, he is never negatively emotional. He has keen judgment and never loses control. He can make cogent decisions under pressure.

On top of all that, he is well rounded. He enjoys quail hunting and golf in the off season but there is not much of that. He is committed to elevating, tweaking and enhancing his program every hour of the day the entire year.

With a Masters degree, he knows the value of a college education and wants that to come about for all his players. He supports University campaigns and programs. He is a proud donor to his alma mater.

He gets high marks in all phases, but especially in recruiting, player management and development. He is an intellectual football coach who is on top of his game. I would say that Georgia got it right with Kirby Smart.

Having said that, there is this reminder. None of that guarantees a national championship. However, to win a championship, you have to do the things he is doing.