Kirby vs. SEC West: Room for Improvement
Han Vance on Georgia football: Overall the West has been the best, of late, and head coach Kirby Smart has had a long climb to unseat the top division of the top conference in the sport. College football is 50 years older than pro football, folks, and Auburn week – as does Homecoming – always gets me in a mood to ruminate on history, recent and long gone.
It’s always a big rivalry game, too.
Kirby has struggled versus the SEC West. This is one of the key areas where Kirby needs major improvement, in his numbers, to go from good to great. The others are: true road games at the SEC West (0-3), national championship games (0-1), CFP games (1-1), SEC championship games (1-1), bowl games (2-2) and all postseason games (3-3). Note that none of these is an above .500 category.
All have involved the other division. (*NCAA counts each CFP game as a bowl game.)
I’ll look at Kirby in every single game against the still somewhat superior, but overvalued in reality, division, as Georgia can clinch the SEC East by beating either Auburn on the Plains or Texas A&M on Senior Day Between the Hedges, a week later. Both are 3:30 CBS games.
Broad snapshot of the ascendant Smart era reveals the winningest coach percentage-wise in the long, storied University of Georgia Bulldogs football history. Kirby replaced and then surpassed in career winning percentage, within his third (11-3) year, the all-time UGA winning percentage record held by future College Football Hall of Fame coach Mark Richt, riding the momentum of a 13-2 rebound, off an 8-5 start. Consider Dooley (25 years) and Butts (1939-1960). Kirby sits atop them all.
The nation’s oldest state chartered public university, the birthplace of American public higher education, founded 1785, is actually two years older than Georgia’s statehood. Empirical.
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CANINES vs CATHOLICS
The school of #34 Herschel Walker, the school of #21 Frank Sinkwich and #62 Charley Trippi. The school of the (split with Ohio State) 1942 and (undisputed) 1980 national champions. The program with the second-most SEC titles, tied with six-time national champion Tennessee with 13, behind only football’s most evil of all ever evil empires – they claim 17 national titles, many of which are fairly dubious.
UGA is the birthplace of Deep South college football; Auburn has no involvement therein. Herty Field in the Classic City of Athens, Ga., was the site of the first ever American college football game played down here, y’all, in 1892. Georgia whooping up on Mercer of Macon, before falling to UGA’s old sister school AU-barn later that winter, right up the street from me at Piedmont Park, in Atlanta. I live on one of six segments of Olmsted Linear Park in Historic Druid Hills, by the way, and Frederick Law Olmsted, father of landscape architecture, laid the plans for both major Atlanta greenspace gems, as well as Central Park in NYC, where I spent some time with an old UGA college roomie this August.
What up, Chris Boggs! – (long) night before, after my NYC spoken word gig:
The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry has been won by Georgia 5-of-6 times, as the much more newly regular Georgia-Tennessee series has actually come to be a closer and more competitive rivalry. Georgia has a game lead on UT, and this week’s opponent trails UGA 59-56-8. At one recent point, Georgia and Auburn each had 55 wins, 8 ties and the point differential was near nil.
Then the Dawgs kept winning. Georgia has won 11-of-14, after each of the schools’ teams had won two apiece, two apiece, dating back to 2002 – Richt’s first of two SEC title years.
Without Auburn, Kirby would look terrible versus the SEC West! Big game, Saturday.
D. 2019 (8-1):
1. 0-0: Georgia 24, Auburn 20 (my prediction)
2. 0-0: Georgia vs Texas A&M (forthcoming, my grandpa went to A&M)
3. 0-0: Georgia vs LSU, SEC championship game, ATL (Aubie held them to 23 AT LSU)
4. 0-0: CFP probably features at least one SEC West team (GEORGIA must win out)
A. 2016 (8-5):
1. 45-14 Loss at Ole Miss (0-1) – Georgia trailed 45-0 in the 3rd
2. 13-7 Win vs Aubie (1-1) – Does defense win championships?
B. 2017 (13-2):
1. 31-3 Win vs Miss St (2-1) – Kirby edged above .500
2. 40-17 Loss at Aubie (2-2) – Georgia was CFP #1
3. 28-7 Win Aubie in ATL (3-2) – Kirby won his SEC title
4. 26-23 Loss Bama in ATL (3-3) – Georgia blew a near national title
C. 2018 (11-3):
1. Loss 36-16 at LSU (3-4) – The fake field goal game
2. Win 27-10 vs Aubie (4-4) – Better than them
3. Loss 35-28 Bama in ATL (4-5) – The fake punt game