Smart grades out OK in first Media Day

Georgia's Kirby Smart represents the G Tuesday in Hoover, Ala., during Georgia's time at SEC Media Days. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Georgia’s Kirby Smart represents the G Tuesday in Hoover, Ala., during Georgia’s time at SEC Media Days. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Hoover, Ala. – In his first SEC Media Day appearance, freed from the windowless, soundproof room where Nick Saban keeps his assistants, new Georgia coach Kirby Smart on Tuesday showed a solid grasp for the fundamentals of this ritual.

Like any good head coach, Smart did not give the faintest clue as to who was going to be his quarterback going into that first game against North Carolina. He clearly displayed the ability to turn a mere roster into a secret of nuclear launch-code proportions.

Not surprisingly, in the battle between experience (Greyson Lambert/Brice Ramsey) and raw ability (freshman Jacob Eason), Smart said he would side with “the young man out there who gives the best opportunity to win football games.” Good to know that he has not come to his new job with the idea of starting someone based on eye color, hygiene or how doggone hard the candidate tries.

Much like Saban, his employer at Alabama for nine years before he left to replace Mark Richt in December, Smart began his mass media session with a long introductory statement. Savvy move. That leaves less time for annoying questions.

Unlike Saban, he did not anywhere in his presentation get the least bit preachy or sanctimonious. That’s something Smart really will have to work on in the future.

Never has a coach come to one of these things and admitted, “You, know, our kids have been really fat and lazy this summer.” Smart was no exception. “These kids have come to work,” he announced.

And on the topic of his long-serving predecessor, and winning the loyalty of a locker room after taking over for Richt, Smart showed some real political chops.

“First I would like to say coach Richt is a good friend of mine. I respect coach Richt and worked for him for a year and respect the man he is and respect what he stands for. I don’t think it’s a competition between coach Richt and me to win over this team. I think you earn that by the way you behave and the way you perform. Every kid I’ve been around as a football player, they want their coaches to make them better as men and as players,” Smart said.

He wasn’t done there.

“If they see value in you as a coach that you can create value in them as a player and a person, they respect that. And it’s not a competition between him and me to win the team over. That’s never what it has been about. I’ve got a lot of respect for coach Richt. He’s reached out to me, and we’ve had communication. I think he’s going to do a great job at University of Miami. Our team has moved forward. Our team is focused on this season and not looking in the rearview mirror.”

At one point, when talking to a smaller gathering about the over-blown nature of recruiting rankings, there was one subtle shot at the way Georgia’s previous regime operated. If you really listened hard enough.

“The proof (of a recruiting class’s merit) is when they get there and what they do,” he said. “I don’t get caught up in where we are, who we have, I really don’t. … My job is to make sure they understand they’ve got to play good, they have to produce on the field to be players. That’s the part we got to change at the University of Georgia – to excel on the field with what we bring in and not just excel at recruiting and just have a top-10 class. I don’t think that does anything for you until you produce on the field.”

Overall, for someone never before in this position, Smart delivered, well, smartly. With time, I’m sure he’ll get a little more relaxed in the company of so many distinguished typists and professional talkers. Maybe even crack the occasional joke. And certainly appear more generally imperious, in the classic mold of the big-time southern college football coach.

Grading Smart’s first SEC Media Day: Solid B.

Now on to the rather more pressing matter of SEC game day.

Reader Comments 0

22 comments
BCB
BCB

Smart just gets it.

DawginLex
DawginLex

@DaltonbywayofBickley  Good luck to you waiting on that to happen. You are going to be severely disappointed. Enjoy 2016 though. It will be our worst team under Kirby for the immediate future. By 2018, you will be cowering in a corner sucking your thumb

Thenumber34
Thenumber34

It was an A+. Crack jokes? He's a football coach, not a comedian.

You'd be a good columnist if you'd write more substance.

OH:IO
OH:IO

Trophies for all dogs everywhere! 

DawginLex
DawginLex

@OH:IO  Hey idiot, how are you justifying having Greg Schiano on your coaching staff? He witnessed a child being raped when he was at Penn State and did nothing about it. Oh yeah, I forgot he works for a head coach who enabled a serial killer in Gainesville. You really need to shutup and look in the mirror sport. Unless you are in favor of children being raped and molested

BCB
BCB

@OH:IO Free tattoo's for all buckeye players.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@DawginLex @OH:IO

Well, he probably IS in favor of that deviant behavior, based on the perverted obsessions he demonstrates on these blogs virtually every day.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Did he get Nick his coffee yet?

MikeMahan
MikeMahan

North Avenue Trade School (NATS), pupil.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@MikeMahan It's gnats professor!.....yea, I have to think all the way back to 2014!....Lol...:)

TOJacket
TOJacket

@MikeMahan Oh you're talking about The Georgia institute of Technology?...ranked US News and World reports "Top 10" public colleges in nation. They're the school that has more NC's, more conference championships, More recent NC, and more recent Conference championship. And I believe the 2 highest CFB awards to a player and coach were named after former GT Coach's....more history. Learn anything pupil?

TOJacket
TOJacket

@MikeMahan You're not very bright are you......we have more trophy's....more history....you humps have Herschel and the Bee Gees!...lol!! Here is some math for you today sport....a 'couple" multiplied by a "couple" is twice as many, you Ag boys might want to stick to picking up the eggs and milking the cows?

MikeMahan
MikeMahan

The nats may never beat Georgia again. It must be rough for you. Sorry about that. :(

MikeMahan
MikeMahan

You are actually bragging because Heisman coached there a century ago? Really? By the way, swing by Athens to actually see a couple of those trophies in person.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket @MikeMahan

They're also the school that's lost 13 of its past 15 vs what you like to term "underachieving" UGA football teams.

You haven't forgotten that part, have you? 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket @MikeMahan

It's "trophies," dummy. You might want to stick to running your yap on the phone instead of in writing.