Photo Credit: David Barnes/UGA Athletics
ESPN.com published a profile today of Georgia’s new football coach, Kirby Smart. The takeaway is Smart knows the Dawg Nation is antsy, and he’s gonna get fired if he doesn’t win an SEC championship in the next couple of years.
Smart replaced Mark Richt, who was essentially fired last year after averaging 10 wins a season when fans and eventually administrators grew frustrated that the team couldn't break through from good to great.
"I feel the pressure of the whole state. I mean, you feel it every day, and we haven't played a game. I want to be great. The people that love this place, I want to be great for them. I want to be great for us. I want to be great for these players. At times, it's overwhelming when you start thinking about the magnitude of it, but that's what we all signed up for, and I'm honored to be here."
Smart is the first to concede he won't be here for long if he doesn't start adding to the football trophy case quickly. Richt wasn't fired because he didn't win enough games. He won games at a 74 percent clip. He was fired because he didn't win enough of the right games and, after winning a pair of SEC championships in his first five seasons, didn't win another SEC title in his final 10 seasons.
Smart’s first recruiting class was ranked seventh nationally, and he talks about how important recruiting is, and how UGA’s new facilities will help him in that regard.
"We've got to recruit at the same level of the people who are winning titles and playing for titles, and to do that, we've got to have great facilities," Smart explains. "We have the resources and the people within the radius of us to build those facilities, and we're going to recruit like crazy. We've just got to have the facilities to get them in here."
Georgia was behind at least half the SEC schools -- and just about everybody in the Western Division -- in the facilities arms race when Smart was hired. A long-awaited $30.2 million indoor practice facility was already in the works and should be completed by January. Smart's checklist also includes an expanded locker room at Sanford Stadium, a recruiting lounge at the stadium for recruits and their families and a new weight room that will feed into the indoor facility.
Which explains why Bulldog season tickets are going up next year.