Saturday, April 16, 2016 is a day that will live in University of Georgia football infamy. With nearly 100,000 fans overflowing Sanford Stadium, many of those Between the Hedges for the first time, signaled the reawakening of the Bulldog program. A proud program with the recruiting base, facilities and resources to dominate the SEC East that had recently fallen into a pattern of underachieving, showed those days are a thing of the past. No, UGA is not magically going to compete for National Championships overnight, but what it does mean is that average is not going to be acceptable.
This is not a shot at Mark Richt. He did a fantastic job as the head coach for the Dawgs and masterminded the rebirth of a football program that had become largely irrelevant under Ray Goff and Jim Donnan. He also left the program in a position much better than when he came in. A position where the right man could elevate the program to a level he could never quite reach.
It is early, but in my opinion Coach Smart has all the traits to be that man.
First and foremost, he is going to keep doing things The Georgia Way. The Georgia Way was somehow twisted and misinterpreted toward the end of Mark Richt’s tenure as a reason why Georgia cannot win championships. However, at its core, The Georgia Way is all about doing things the right way and not taking shortcuts. It is exactly why UGA will once again win championships and why it will be incredibly satisfying when they do.
Second, Coach Smart demands perfection and he is going to do everything he can to draw it out of his players. More often than not that will involve a boot on the ass instead of an arm around the shoulder. As the saying goes, while perfection is ultimately unattainable, if you strive for perfection you have an opportunity to catch greatness.
Third, Coach Smart is relentless in absolutely everything he does. He wakes up every morning and Attacks the Day. Whether it be recruiting, film study, or player evaluation, he does not do anything halfway. He makes the most out of every second of the day.
I could go on listing traits that differentiate him from his predecessor but I will end with this fourth trait. He is bold. Coach Smart’s is going to coach without fear and he is going to demand that his team plays with a channeled reckless abandon. He is not going to settle for holding onto a lead in the second half, he is going to put his foot on the opponent’s throat and not let up until the other team has lost the will to fight.
As I stated above, UGA is not going to magically start competing for and winning National Championships. Why? Because other teams aren’t going to roll over at the Dawgs feet. UGA is going to have to fight, scratch and claw their way to that level. A level that Alabama fought so hard to attain. A level that Nick Saban fought hard to attain. Having spent the last 9 years at Alabama under Saban, Coach Smart knows what it takes and once he teaches his team not to fear greatness and instead embrace it, UGA will be ready to finally take that ever elusive next step.
The Bulldawg Nation sent a message on Saturday, April 16, 2016 that they are beginning the process of taking that step.