Mistakes Happened ~ Fix It

Mistakes Happened ~ Fix It

Han Vance on Georgia football: Kirby Smart maintains a veneer of being above (his own perceived) criticism, in much of his public communication with the football media. An obvious weakness he should have long ago been coached to fix by the UGA comm professionals, now halfway through the fifth season of his head coaching career.

Coachspeak should be replaced by more personal accountability for his glaring mistakes. I won’t list all of them here, but here’s a snapshot: 1. James Coley as his hand-chosen play caller, 2. The fake punt in the SECCG (worst decision I’ve seen in the history of the sport), 3. The fake field goal at LSU, 4. The limited usage of Justin Fields by Jim Chaney, 5. Playing an in the doghouse James Cook in the Sugar Bowl after his traffic stop.

These aren’t a “we” situation, Coach. These are head coaching mistakes. These are all on you.

Head coaches choose their assistants; head coaches decide when to unveil special teams trick plays. Head coaches influence assistants. Character issues are about a head coach.

Many of us loved only Ol’ Georgia while Smart was off getting scorched by $CAM and Johnny Football and OLE MI$$ and disallowed to give interviews, focused instead on convincing teenagers to play for the flagship of his birth state – it is a purely false narrative that Kirby is “from Georgia” – (like I did) dude went to school in the Peach State, but he was born in Alabama and is no more from Georgia than I am – I know who I am, I’m a Texan (mom from Nebraska) like my Nanny and Dad were who first moved to metro ATL in 1976, on America’s 200th birthday. I’m an ATLien, I own my place in Atlanta proper where I had three kids, and I am an alumnus. I bleed red-and-black.

But a Georgian/from Georgia means something. Those words have meanings, and that tired story should stop being told. Not whatever.

This on-the-job training period should be well over by now. The Coach Donnan-like defensive “I disagree” stance when no statement of fact was made, when a simple question is asked of Smart is as unacceptable as a team scoring: ZERO, ZERO, 7, ZERO, 7, ZERO in its last six quarters. This Mark Richt-like sudden it’s more than about winning games it’s about raising boys to men BS rings hollow after a loss, when our best player is riding a dirt bike at night the week of the biggest game of the year and Deandre Baker was praised as such a solid guy. The lessens learned eventually show up.

Georgia has consistently gotten further from winning the SEC or national championship since double overtime ended in Pasadena, a resilient but lucky win if ever I saw one, when the team came out flat and unprepared for the big stage.

First they blew a national championship. Then they got blown out in a winnable game at LSU. Then they blew the SECCG on 4th and 11. Then they got embarrassed in the Sugar Bowl by an average at best Texas program (I’m FROM Austin). Then they got upset by Carolina, when late game head coaching was terrible. Then they got blown out in the SECCG in Atlanta.

Then they went scoreless at Bama after listening to a butt-clincher of a halftime speech, while Saban told his team, “We were built for this.” Kirby tries not to lose instead of knowing how to win. It’s what college professor Dr. Gary Green, at inaugural UGA Alumni Weekend, described to me as (Kirby’s) “Impostor Syndrome” at lunch.

Green is a Richt guy who gave the former coach insight into key recruits and their family members using advanced psychological techniques. Kirby is scared of him.

Speaking of scoreless, the team where Kirby is from just gave up ZERO points over their last four quarters, after blowing out rival Tennessee without Bama’s best player, after blowing Georgia out late, after blowing out SEC West number two Texas A&M, a team that would outscore Georgia, and who outscored Florida.

I made a mistake, too: I reverted to thinking Mel Tucker was still at Colorado. Somehow. Even after I wrote an article for pay on his compensation package, for USA Today. I’m man enough to say it. It was I.

Kirby’s national reputation is plainly at stake Saturday. Lose this game and he won’t be getting a second SEC title in his first five years, like his old boss Richt did. Kirby was on that staff in 2005, his only experience at all coaching offense. It shows.

This is so much bigger than the Bama game was: this is the whole damn season in one game.