Han Vance on Georgia football: Kirby Smart can someday cease these constant and/or annual comparisons to his former boss Mark Richt, by outperforming the retired coach by a wide margin. It just hasn’t happened.
The once all-time leader in school win percentage, Mark Richt won 74% of his games at UGA, and would have easily cracked the 3-out-of-4 plateau if he’d elected to coach his final team in a bowl win over Penn State.
Hired by athletic director and former head coach/AD Vince Dooley, who I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with a handful of times in both Athens and Atlanta, he was a good hire.
Taking over a perennially underachieving four-loss team with real discipline issues coached by Jim Donnan, after a much worse run by alumnus Ray Goff, Mark Richt – like Kirby – won the SEC and 13 games his second season as a head coach.
An Alabama native who went to high school in Georgia, Kirby played for Goff and Donnan, and I still see the influence of these guys on his public demeanor.
Neither ever coached again, by the way.
Kirby inherited a stronger UGA, off three straight 10-win years. His best guys were very well-entrenched as starters when he got it going, after an 8-5 aberration.
Florida native Richt coached the Davids: nice guy I’ve met Greene becoming the then-winningest QB in NCAA history and the SEC’s then all-time leading passer. Media member I truly admire, Pollack left school as by far the most-decorated defender in UGA history, after being SEC Player of the Year as a true sophomore first-year starter. Their 13-1 team, peaking at the end, would have won it all if a four-team CFP had existed (Ohio State did), they and I and we truly believe.
Richt eventually coached the current SEC stat beast, Aaron Murray, never even winning the SEC with him, both victimized by some bad breaks.
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While Kirby’s best teams have lost two football games, and he’s 3-1 right now. Few expect him to win out with Stetson Bennett IV at QB.
Under All-SEC QB DJ Shockley – a buddy of mine now – Richt won a 2nd SECCG in Atlanta in 2005 and would have made the CFP, again. Shockley lost one regular season game ever as a starter and upset a top-tier LSU in ATL, who I after watched whip Miami in the Peach Bowl.
Richt had a Florida problem!
Urban bested him. He had a Spurrier problem (briefly) at UF and then at South Carolina.
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Same way Kirby has an Alabama and LSU (0-5) problem, except Kirby never ever beats these teams. Richt beat every team occasionally. Even winning at Alabama in consecutive tries over ranked teams, the last coached by Saban.
It wasn’t greatness, though, and injuries and over-loyalty to guys were often to blame.
Kirby hasn’t felt the injury bug sting the way Richt did with Gurley, Chubb, Murray, but I see the same loyalty. Loyalty loses games.
While best-in-country Gurley and AJ Green were suspended for improperly selling their likeness, this hasn’t plagued “the great recruiter” and NIL rules are changing. Name Image Licensing is the least the NCAA should do for these real moneymakers. The players take the hits!
These coaches at UGA are good enough to win most of their games as they should, usually, but they are in no way great. There is no evidence of real greatness, folks.
…Well, Richt was a great human being. He was known for winning the right way, more than for coming up short, which he did.
Justin Scott-Wesley, “Mark is the man.”
Recruiting is where Kirby has supposedly “improved” UGA. After winning the SEC once with the key dominant players all being Richt’s recruits (and one flip, Jake Fromm), Kirby has outpaced Richt 78% to 74%.
That’s one win per every 20 games, with longer regular seasons allowing for more cupcakes.
SEC East “trophies” are piling up, and the longest losing streak in UGA postseason history was snapped five ballgames ago with a sUGAr Bowl win, over private school Baylor. Georgia is 4-2 over the last six games, the two losses: blowouts late by LSU and Bama.
Kirby was on TV recently saying that it is more about leading men than winning games. Sounded like Richt, to me. Coach Smart went on to say he gets his feelings hurt less than he used to when he reads the real facts in print.
Here’s some of that recruiting stuff:
Lou Groza Award
Jim Thorpe Award
All-Time NCAA Duo
Sony and Chubb
Fromm – Bills bench buried
Fields – 20-21 Saturday
ZEU$ – he runs hard