The Georgia Bulldogs had an incredibly tough loss this past weekend to Tennessee, some UGA fans have started to look towards their former coaches 4-0 record at Miami and wonder whether Georgia really made the right decision to move on from him.
The Georgia Bulldogs and Kirby Smart have lost their last two games to big time SEC programs, Mark Richt and his new Miami Hurricanes are currently sitting undefeated after their victory against Georgia Tech. Over the past few years, a growing part of the fan base was looking to move on from Richt, who failed to deliver even an SEC East title in his final 3 years and those fans got their wish this year as the Dawgs brought in Kirby Smart.
While its understandable for fans to feel frustrated, particularly after such a tough loss, it’s also probably a bit short sighted for those fans to look over to what Mark Richt is doing at Miami and wish he was still at Georgia.
To start with, it’s important that fans remember that Kirby Smart is essentially coaching the team that Richt recruited. The poor Georgia recruiting classes of 2013 – 2014 and the lack impact players from them might be the biggest problem the 2016 UGA roster is facing. There are far too many position groups right now that are dependent on Sophomores and true Freshmen because they lack good upper class-men.
While we don’t know enough about this Miami team due to the lack of quality opposition they have faced, Richt has certainly inherited a good junior quarterback in Brad Kaaya, a player many think will be a first round pick in next years draft. While we probably can’t say that the Hurricanes have a deeper roster than UGA right now, they’re certainly not as deficient a key positions such as offensive line and wide receiver.
It’s also worth considering that unlike Georgia, who have just played two very good ranked SEC powers, Miami are yet to face a real test this season. No disrespect to the likes of Florida A&M and FAU, but these are games Miami is expected to dominate and so that undefeated record is hardly surprising. Georgia Tech was certainly the biggest test the Hurricanes have faced so far this year and they are hardly a powerhouse this year and in many ways, they threw the game away as much as Miami won it.
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Miami is only now getting to the point in their schedule where they will face an actual challenge. In the next 4 weeks, they will face Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. Losing 2 or 3 of those games is very possible and Miami’s record will likely look very different as we head into November.
5 games or even one season is far too early for people to make judgements about a coach. Those who wanted Richt to move on at least had 15 years of results to point to whereas those calling for Smart’s head are essentially basing their opinion on less than 20 quarters of football. Add this to the fact that Richt himself went 8-4 in his first season, experiencing devastating losses to Auburn and South Carolina and it should be remembered that it takes time for a coaches message to sink in.
Rather than looking back, I would argue that what fans should do more of is look forward. The 2017 recruiting class is a good example of why the change to Smart was so necessary if the University is ever going to push for championships. The Georgia Bulldogs currently have the 3rd ranked class, with 12 4-star commitments with several highly raked players still expected to sign with the Dawgs before January. Compare this to Miami, which may be ranked 8th, but this is based more off numbers than high level talent. Richt has commitments from 20 players already, but only 6 of them are ranked as 4-star talents, half UGA’s haul.
The difference between a top 3 recruiting program and a top 10 one is what separates perennial contenders from sometimes ones. Alabama hasn’t been outside the top 3 in over 5 years and since Urban Meyer arrived in Columbus, neither have Ohio State. Kirby Smart was brought in from Alabama with a mission to put Georgia up in that category recruiting wise. Such a highly ranked 2017 class would be a terrific achievement for a first time head coach.
UGA moved on from Mark Richt for many reason, most specifically that after 15 years, the University was no closer to winning the SEC than it was on the day he arrived. It seems counterproductive to expect a new coaching team to achieve more than the previous setup after less than a year.
Winning the SEC East with a Freshman heavy team against considerably more experienced and talented programs such as Florida and Tennessee was never going to be likely in 2016. While this most recent loss will likely sting fans for a while, it shouldn’t change the bigger picture in regards to what Kirby Smart and his coaches are trying to build.