Georgia Football: Is it Time to Move on From Kirby Smart?
Just two short years ago, a disappointing Georgia win over alleged rival Georgia Tech was enough to get long-time Bulldog head coach Mark Richt fired. The prudence of that decision remains to be seen. On one hand, only beating the Yellow Jackets by six points may very well be a fireable offense. On the other hand, Mark Richt is now 18-5 at Miami and knocking on the door of a playoff appearance.
We can debate whether Richt deserved more time at Georgia until we’re blue in the face, but in the two years that have since transpired we have learned rather definitively that Greg McGarity made at least one poor personnel decision in late 2015. And that was the hiring of Kirby Smart.
There’s plenty to like about Kirby Smart (his infectious need to be displeased, his enthusiastic jumping about on the sideline, etc.), but in just two short years and 25 total games, Smart has already carved out Georgia’s positioning within the national landscape and it is not one of prominence. In doing so, he has rather concisely fragmented college football into four buckets of schools:
- Teams that Georgia always beats.
- Teams that Georgia should (but does not) always beat.
- Teams that always beat Georgia.
- Teams that have not yet been lucky enough to play Georgia.
An honest assessment of the four categories above renders an unacceptable result from Kirby Smart.
Teams that Georgia Always Beats
This is an interesting collection of programs that can really be broken down into a handful of sects (pronounced: sex).
- FCS Teams: Nicholls State (2016), Samford (2017)
- Non-Power 5 FBS Teams: Louisiana-Lafayette (2016), App State (2017)
- Traditionally Bottom-Feeding SEC Schools: Missouri (2016 / 2017), South Carolina (2016 / 2017), Kentucky (2016 / 2017), Mississippi State (2017)
- Teams Who Have Never Won a Conference Championship Game: TCU (2016), Notre Dame (2017)
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2016)
This is about as strong as the case for Kirby Smart gets. His Georgia program is better than FCS teams, non-Power 5 teams, crappy SEC teams, teams that never win their conference championship game and UNC.
Seriously, that’s as good as it gets.
Teams Georgia Should (But Doesn’t) Always Beat
This is where things really go south for Kirby Smart’s track record.
- He is 1-1 vs. Tennessee, a program that recently fired its coach.
- He is 1-1 vs. Florida, a program that recently fired its coach.
- He is 1-1 vs. Auburn, a program that was recently considering firing its coach.
- He is 1-1 vs. Vanderbilt, a program that should never beat Georgia.
- He’s 1-1 vs. Georgia Tech, a program that should never beat Georgia.
Teams that Always Beat Georgia
Ole Miss. The Rebels, at least under former coach Hugh Freeze, never lost to Georgia. In the interest of transparency, this list seems likely to grow.
Look, if you’re an FBS team in a Power 5 conference and you occasionally win your conference, you ought to feel really good about playing against Georgia. Because the only teams Kirby Smart consistently beats hail from smaller divisions, smaller conferences, weaker traditions or Chapel Hill. Alabama has to be excited about the SEC Championship Game. Whoever draws Georgia in a bowl game has to be excited.
And that’s not a good thing for a program like Georgia. Does an 11-1 regular season record matter if all you’ve done is win most of the games you were supposed to win? It’s time for another change in Athens. It’s time to bring Mike Bobo home.
-The Kirby Smart Hater