That is the question is it not? At least for a good many in Bulldawg Nation. Should Kirby Smart stay and coach Alabama through the College Football Playoffs through the National Championship game or should he go and put his full energies into the University of Georgia?
Just a few weeks ago, back on Sunday, December 6th, after Alabama had just won the 2015 SEC Championship game the day before, the University of Georgia announced the hiring of Kirby Smart as its new Head Coach of the football program replacing former Coach Mark Richt. But there was a catch. Just a minor detail if you will; he would finish his coaching duties at Alabama until the Crimson Tide’s season was done.
Of course, this did not necessarily sit well with a number of fans who think that Coach Smart should thank Nick Saban and the Tide for a wonderful nine years, wish them well in the playoffs, and come east down the road to Athens, turning his full attention on the Bulldogs. Which leads us to this very moment after the College Football Playoff games that took place on New Year’s Eve, and where Clemson beat Oklahoma by 20 points in the Capital One Orange Bowl and Alabama spanked Michigan State 38-0 in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl.
Now, there were a number of Bulldawg fans that were hoping beyond hope that Sparty would pull the upset and end the Tide’s season; therefore, sending Kirby Smart on over to Athens. Since that did not happen, it will be another 11 days or so before Georgia will get Coach Smart’s full attention. Does this really hurt the Dawgs’ football program though?
Just because Kirby Smart has been getting Alabama ready for a National Championship run, which based on last night’s game against State with the Tide’s defensive performance is any indicator … he’s doing a mighty fine job , it doesn’t mean he isn’t already working for Georgia. Before the ink was dry on his coaching contract, Smart had already hit the ground running meeting with players and staff as well as burning rubber on the recruiting trail. He was up in Stephens County, GA visiting 2016 offensive lineman prospect Ben Cleveland that same Sunday. And 24 hours later, after his official UGA introductory press conference, the new Georgia Head Coach was making his way to the other side of the country to visit 5-star 2016 quarterback prospect Jacob Eason and family in the state of Washington.
Before the week was out, Kirby Smart had also visited 2016 prospects Chad Clay, Antwuan Jackson Isaac Nauta, and Julian Rochester along with hiring 3 coaches for his staff: defensive staff – Glenn Schuman, Offensive Coordinator Jim Chaney and Offensive Line Coach Scott Pittman.
On top of that, Kirby Smart was able to keep 5-star 2016 QB prospect from decommitting from the Dawgs and to reaffirm his commitment to Georgia. He also got class of 2017 five star prospect, Richard LeCounte III, who was an Ohio State lean, to commit to Georgia. Although he had to head back to Tuscaloosa to get his defense ready for their bowl game, Smart was still able to negotiate retaining Defensive Line Coach Tracy Rocker and Linebacker Coach Kevin Sherrer as well as get another 2017 prospect to commit to Georgia, linebacker Breon Dixon.
Could Kirby Smart have done much more if he had decided not to stay in Tuscaloosa with Alabama to close out the season; if he had chosen to go and come on over to UGA? That is hard to say, but I don’t think so. For starters, the Dead Period for the College Football Recruiting cycle started on December 14th and will not end till January 13th. While coaches and prospects can still communicate electronically, there is no face-to-face time, no in-person contact allowed during the dead period; so, Smart’s presence at Bama doesn’t really hurt Georgia as far as recruiting goes.
And as far as hiring the remaining staff goes, he more than likely will be announcing the rest of the staff within 24 to 48 hours of the end of the National Championship Game, which is something we have discussed on BD Illustrated ON-Air on the podcasts.
The fact of the matter is that while it would be nice to have Kirby Smart in Athens with 100% of his attention on UGA football, it didn’t work out that way. And that is OK because it really isn’t hurting Georgia. If anything, he can use staying on at Bama and finishing out the season as a recruiting pitch to prospects and their families, and if Alabama should win another National Title, he can show off that jewelry to boot.
Regardless, in 10 days, Coach Smart will say good bye to Tuscaloosa and hello to Athens, and the Kirby Smart era will begin. And based on what I have seen from the energy and work ethic out of Coach Smart just in these few short weeks, Georgia will be A-OK. Go Dawgs and Happy New Year!