Kirby 2016/Crean 2019 – A Step Back Before Moving Forward?

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Kirby 2016/Crean 2019 – A Step Back Before Moving Forward?

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Remember the 2016 football season? Georgia finished 7-5 and there was plenty of controvery about Kirby Smart and his approach to his first season as a head coach. Many pundits and fans observed that Smart insisted on installing a power run game when he clearly did not have the offensive line personnel to successfully run the scheme against quality SEC competition. The term ”square peg in a round hole” was used more than once to describe Smart’s insistence on running his preferred offense in spite of personnel challenges.

Tom Crean

Coaches don’t get fired when everything is wonderful and the talent cupboard is stacked, just waiting the new guy to coach-up. So, what is the responsibility of a new head coach in year one?

Is it to maximize wins by designing schemes to best utilize available talent, or should the new coach install the new the preferred system and go with it – even if the current talent cannot execute it effectively.





If one opts for the latter, one is staring a down year right in the face. If one opts for the former, the regime change will likely go into multiple years.

Does one rip off the bandaid or try to coax it slowly away from the wound?

Both Kirby Smart and Tom Crean appear to have chosen the quick, but painful, approach.





Kirby Smart

As I photograph games, my seat along the end line is directly adjacent to Georgia’s bench for half of each game. Being close allows one to get an idea of the extent of buy-in. Crean’s entire squad is into the game, not detached, not joking around, not looking bored. He has their attention, and if it waivers, he demands everyone’s focus.

The next step for Crean is recruiting to fill the obvious gaps in his roster and begion to swap close losses for close wins.





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Greg is closing in on 11 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.