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How Long Will We Let Kirby Smart Ride Mark Richt’s Coattails?

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NCAA Football: Georgia Spring Game Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Kirby Smart Hater’s Guide to Georgia Football, where we give a voice to the fans who will never be happy with Kirby Smart at the helm in Athens.

I’m a big enough man to admit when I’m wrong, and last week I was wrong. As it turns out, Kirby Smart is not a worse coach than Butch Jones. He’s exactly as bad as Butch Jones, as evidenced by his 1-1 head-to-head record with the aforementioned Butch Jones. Fortunately for Kirby, being as bad as Butch Jones is enough to keep your job under a complacent athletic director like Greg Mc-Dont-Care-ity.

And in fairness to the Georgia athletic department, Tennessee is keeping Butch Jones so Georgia might as well stick with the equally inept Kirby Smart. After all Volunteer Football is literally (and rightfully) the namesake for amateur football. If Tennessee, a program with more all-time wins and more money than Georgia, can tolerate a crap coach; so can we.

NCAA Football: Georgia at Tennessee
It’s hard to find coaches like Butch Jones and Kirby Smart.
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

So now, I guess we sit back and act like beating the also-worst coach in the conference is something worth celebrating. But before we all crush our own pelvises trying to reach between our legs to pat our own backs, let’s recap the Georgia Bulldogs’ lengthy list of accomplishments in 2017:

  1. Georgia defeated a team that also lost to Wake Forest and barely beat Texas State. That team was App State.
  2. Georgia defeated a team that was 4-8 last year at a neutral site by one single point. That team was Notre Dame.
  3. Georgia defeated an FCS team. That team was Samford.
  4. Georgia posted a 28-point win over a team that had a losing record last year and that lost to Auburn by 39 points last week. That team was Mississippi State.
  5. Georgia defeated the team that is tied for last place in the SEC’s weaker division. That team is Tennessee.

Georgia is 5-0, and Kirby Smart deserves credit for that—at least a little bit. It’s mathematically impossible to win more than five games in five attempts. So in that regard, Kirby couldn’t do any more than he’s done so far this year. But I have trouble buying into the “culture change” and the “new Georgia” when I know that the only smart thing Kirby has done is ride the ever-living crap out of Mark Richt’s coattails.

You’re kidding yourself if you think this is Kirby Smart’s team. No part of this team is a byproduct of Kirby Smart. Practically every successful component of this team came from Mark Richt.

Mark Richt or Kirby Smart?

Player Known For Who Brought Him In?
Player Known For Who Brought Him In?
Nick Chubb Georgia's #1 Rusher Mark Richt
Sony Michel Georgia's #2 Rusher Mark Richt
Terry Godwin Georgia's #1 Receiver Mark Richt
Javon Wims Georgia's #2 Receiver Mark Richt
Roquan Smith Georgia's #1 Tackler Mark Richt
Lorenzo Carter Georgia's #1 Sacker, Leader in Turnovers Mark Richt
Jake Fromm Averaging 146.8 Passing Yards Per Game Kirby Smart

Georgia has a really impressive ground game under Kirby Smart. It’s so dang strong that its leading rushers are the same two leading rushers Georgia had in Mark Richt’s last season with the Bulldogs. Oh, Terry Godwin has really stepped up as a receiver. He’s made such huge strides. In Mark Richt’s last year he was only Georgia’s second-leading receiver, behind Super Bowl Champion and then-senior Malcolm Mitchell. Oh, good thing Lorenzo Carter is finally leading the team in sacks this year. After all, he finished way down in third place in that category as a Richt-coached true freshman in 2014.

This isn’t a cultural change; it’s cultural appropriation.

Kirby Smart is appropriating Coach Mark Richt Culture - aka CMRC [(Trademarked by DudeYouCrazy, 2017)]. What’s next? Is Kirby gonna start teaching Sunday School and doing diving board backflips?

Oh I have an idea! Maybe Kirby Smart could try to mirror Mark Richt’s insistence on consistency at the quarterback position. That would be a cool trait for him to poach from his predecessor. Because right now, the only part of this team that isn’t completely laced with Richt’s DNA / CMRC is the quarterback position.

In 11 of Richt’s 15 seasons in Athens, the Bulldogs averaged at least 200 passing yards per game. The four anomalies for that period saw the Dawgs pass for 184.4 yards per game (in 2006), 185.1 (in 2015), 108.4 (in 2007) and 199.9 (in 2014).

This year’s Definitely-All-Kirby-Smart-Not-Mark-Richt Team is passing for fewer than 150 yards per contest. That’s not a good number, folks. Georgia’s passing attack is almost 35 yards per game worse than Richt’s worst passing attack. Interestingly enough, the quarterback position is the single component of this Georgia team that is not being played by one of Richt’s guys. Jake Fromm is a true freshman—I don’t know if you realized that. Nobody is talking about how Fromm is a freshman and is 5-0.

This all bodes poorly for Kirby Smart because of the two patterns we see coming to fruition.

  1. When Georgia does things the “Smart” way (i.e. going with Fromm over one of Richt’s guys, like Brice Ramsey), the performance sucks.
  2. Georgia is only good at things that get done in a way Richt would do them.

Those patterns feed into a larger, more dangerous threat for Kirby Smart. Any college coach is only as good as his roster. There’s a reason Alabama is the top team in the country, and that’s because the Crimson Tide have had like a billion consecutive no. 1 recruiting classes. Well, if Kirby Smart’s roster is only good because of all of Richt’s guys then it’s pretty obvious that Richt is a better coach than Smart.

In case you’re as dumb as Smart, this means that Kirby should probably be fired. After all, if Richt wasn’t good enough for Georgia why would someone less good than Richt be good enough? At his very best, Kirby Smart is Mark Richt (though his winning percentage is significantly lower). At his worst, he’s Butch Jones.

Is that who you want leading your Bulldogs? Just something to think about.