“It’s 4th-and-1 for the national championship every day”

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“It’s 4th-and-1 for the national championship every day”

Kirby Smart
Kirby Smart
Photo: Greg Poole/Bulldawg Illustrated

Single-minded adherence to the pursuit of excellence is easy to talk about. In fact, it may even be easy to practice when fall camp begins each year. In today’s college football environment, however, if one waits until practice starts; one has already been outworked.
Derek Dooley recently shared his impression of the environment created by Nick Saban at LSU and Alabama:

“The first thing I told a new coach was, every day, I don’t care if it’s March 5, May 10, June 28, Oct. 14, it’s 4th-and-1 for the national championship every day. It is,” Dooley said. “As a young coach, I absolutely loved the environment, because it made me better. I knew I was getting better. I knew when I didn’t perform to a standard that he was going to confront me.
“Even though I’d get upset sometimes when he’d confront me — there were very few times — he was right. I could have done this better. That environment was perfect for a guy like me. It’s not good for other coaches who didn’t like it.”

Based on my observations of the Kirby Smart regime, he has brought that same urgency to Athens.

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Greg is closing in on 15 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.