Expectations For Kirby Smart in Year 1

Life is all about expectations. Our judgement or critique on something is based on our expectation of how it should be.  Last week when I talked about Sprayberry’s Barbecue, I was disappointed because my expectations where so high.

The Georgia men’s basketball team this season has done something it has never done in its history: finish .500 or better in four consecutive seasons.  But going into SEC play, we expected so much more from Coach Fox and his team.  It has been a terribly disappointing season.

On the surface, outsiders may wonder why Coach Richt was fired.  As I’ve said, it was not being great enough often enough.  There were great moments.  But there wasn’t the consistent greatness that was expected.

I think the separation of Coach Richt and UGA has turned out to be the best possible outcome for all parties involved, as far as the coaches go.  The transition from the previous regime to the current one was as seamless as it could have been.

Mike Ekeler, who seemed negative after the ordeal, wound up as defensive coordinator.  McClendon and Thomas Brown, who weren’t to blame for the offense’s struggles, got great opportunities elsewhere.  Even John Lilly wound up in the NFL, and being a tireless recruiter, this should prove a better job for his family.  Jeremy Pruitt became DC at Alabama.  Brian Schottenhiemer even landed on his feet.

Of course, Mark Richt got a great job.  He goes to a place where he will be welcomed in with excitement, and the expectations in Miami aren’t as high as they were in Athens.  Plus, he gets to trade Auburn, Tennessee, Florida and South Carolina every year for Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Duke and N.C. State.  Not a bad trade.  I predict much success for Coach Richt at Miami.

Managing our expectations is something that is difficult for Georgia fans.  Every year, we say, “this could be the year.”  Then, something happens where it is clear this isn’t the year.  Then, something else happens that gives us hope.  The hope is then shattered in epic fashion.

Sitting here about a month away from the GDay game, and a week or so before spring practice I ask myself:  what are reasonable expectations for Kirby Smart?

Long term expectations are pretty clear: win championships.  Do we expect Alabama-level of national championships?  That isn’t reasonable.  But we all should expect SEC Championships, and should expect being relevant in the national conversation beyond September.

Short term, Year 1 expectations are a little fuzzier.  If Nick Chubb is healthy and is able to come back, this team could be a contender for the SEC East in Year 1.

But breaking in a new coach, potentially a new quarterback, and potentially not having a healthy Nick Chubb could lead to down season in Coach Smart’s first year.

Games against North Carolina, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Florida could be troublesome.  Auburn could get theirs, and the first time a defensive coach sees Georgia Tech’s offense it causes problems.

I long said that if we fired Richt, one reason to be wary of making a change would be the gamble of trading in the consistency for the unknown, and there are many cautionary tales across the college football world that supports that.

But if Miami has a good season and Georgia struggles to something in the 7-5 neighborhood, it is too early to scream “We shouldn’t have parted ways.”  You can only fairly say that several years from now, not after one or two seasons.  It will be maddening to hear folks that sort of thing after the Coah Smart’s first, or second, season.  Especially if Coach Richt is successful in Miami.

My expectations for Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs in 2016 are these:  I want to see consistency.  I want to see the players play hard.  I want to see the coaches make decisions that put the players in the best position to succeed.    I don’t want to see us struggle to put away inferior opponents.  I don’t want to see the team come out flat.  I want to see Georgia play well against good teams, and even in defeat, I want to feel like Georgia did all it could do to win.  I don’t want to see the same mistakes made game after game, season after season.

If these things are achieved, 7-5 would be worth it, because it would also show that the program is heading back where it needs to go, win/loss record be damned.

So, what are your expectations for Kirby Smart’s first year?

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5 Responses to “Expectations For Kirby Smart in Year 1”


  1. 1 LIVEFREEORDIE (@DIEDIN1865) March 7, 2016 at 10:47 am

    AT END OF DAY IT’S OBVIOUSLY ABOUT W’S IN ATHENS OR CMR WOULD STILL BE HERE….
    KIRBYV SEEMS TO BE ON A RECRUITING BLITZKRIEG SO THAT IS ENCOURAGING. …. CHUBB/EASON WILL MAKE THIS SEASON…. I’D SAY 8-4 SHOULD BE THE LINE….BELOW OR ABOVE DETERMINES REAL SUCCESS. … ALL THIS SAID DON’T FORGET TO SUPPORT YOUR SCHOOL REGARDLESS OF RECORD OR HOW MUCH WE MISS CMR….. ALSO IT IS REALLY ABSURD HOW SO MANY COACHES ENDED UP WHERE THEY “SHOULD” BE….
    GOD BLESS LEWIS GRIZZARD AND JERRY CLOWER…. BOUT THEM DAWGS! DOWN IN DIXIE….

  2. 2 Vineyarddawg March 7, 2016 at 10:57 am

    I think you’re selling Miami short on their fans’ expectations. Given their past history of national championships, their fans expect pretty much the same thing that UGA fans expect. Always in competition for the conference title, and almost always in competition for the national title, as well. It’s just that they haven’t seen that level of success in well over a decade. In essence, I think Mark Richt is walking into the same situation at Miami that was was entering in 2001 at Georgia. But that worked out pretty well for him in Athens, so there’s no reason it can’t work out at Miami, also.

    As for Kirby’s expectations in Athens, year 1 is almost always a throwaway year for a new head coach. There are situations where that hasn’t been the case (Miami is a great example in 2001 with Coker), but in most cases, year 2 is where the rubber meets the road. So, I have almost no expectations for year 1. I’d say 8-4 is about right, since that’s practically the floor for any reasonably-talented UGA team in most seasons. Anything 6-6 or below would give me cause for concern, since Georgia should never, under any circumstances, be a 6-6 team. And if we were to go 9-3 or better, I’d be impressed.

    Early-season should be toughest for us, since we’ll be breaking in a freshman QB and we’ll have a less-than-100% Nick Chubb (no matter what anybody says, he won’t be 100% on day 1). But I’ve already mentally written off 2016, and am more looking forward to the 2017 season. Of course, we’ll need to find an elite RB for 2017, since Chubb will be playing on Sundays by then. But that’s a fretting session for another day…

  3. 3 Woody March 7, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    A 7 win season will never be acceptable in Athens. Coach Richt won 8 his first year with a freshman QB and 13 his second year. Only once did he win fewer than 8. We swap Ole Miss for Bama and add UNC. We played half the season last year without Chubb. We return the starting QB that won 10 games. Why would anything less than 9 wins be acceptable?

  4. 4 lakedawg March 8, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Agree with Woody, why would we expect less this year than last, superior coaching, strength & conditioning, a competent QB, additional resources, easier schedule. Think 10 is a minimum, just as Miami fans think 10 is a must for them.gg


  1. 1 Expectations for Kirby year 1 – covered this many times but a blog THE GRIT TREE has not posted my reply there yet ? | Georgia Bulldogs' Blog - Proven smart insight Trackback on March 7, 2016 at 1:27 pm

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