At what point does the heat get turned up on Kirby Smart’s seat at Georgia football?
Georgia football has experienced quite a bit of success under Kirby Smart. They have won three SEC East titles, one SEC Championship, two New Year’s Six bowls, and one College Football Playoff game. They have also lost a New Year’s Six bowl and a National Championship game. Most of this success has been attributed to Smart’s elite level or recruiting. However, it’s not like the cupboard was bare when he got to Athens. Georgia was ranked number six on 247’s college football team talent composite for 2015, Richt’s last season.
Last season was the first season Smart was working with a roster of just the players he recruited. It was a shortened season with no spring and little summer practice. This was capped off by the starting quarterback opting out just three weeks before the season would start. To make matters worse, Smart had hired Todd Monken to modernize the offense. This wasn’t a mistake, but the timing of not having spring practice couldn’t have been worse.
With these setbacks in mind, Georgia football went 8-2 on the season capping it off with a Peach Bowl win. Smart showed that even with a pandemic going on during the season he could still guide it to a winning season. He also proved his detractors, that said he could only be successful with Mark Richt’s players, wrong. Now going into his sixth year as head coach of Georgia’s football program he looks to have it aimed in the right direction.
However, is there a point at which we ask ourselves if the success on the field matches recruiting success? According to 247Sports’ Composite, Georgia football had number one recruiting classes for both the 2018 and 2020 recruiting cycles. They also had the number two class for the 2019 cycle. That is quite a talent influx into a program. In fact, 247 had Georgia’s 2020 roster rated as the most talented in the nation.
Should fans begin to question if Kirby Smart can win a National Title?
With all that said, some sports media members are calling 2021 a “championship or bust” season for Georgia. Should Georgia fans heed this warning? Should they begin to question if Smart is the guy? If Smart doesn’t win it all this year and you shouldn’t worry, when should you begin to worry? These questions have been pondered for some time and there seems to be a reasonable answer.
When you think about Smart’s 2018, 2019, and 2020 recruiting classes the first thing that comes to mind is talent. However, with that talent comes youth. It takes that youth time to develop. Given three years for every class to become upperclassmen the optimal years for each class would be as follows:
So, the optimal year for Smart to win a National Title should be the year 2023. He would have seven seasons of head coach experience and had four upperclassmen groups (leadership) from the top three recruiting classes (talent). If Georgia football goes into the 2024 season without a National Title, it would be time to take a second look at the head coach position at Georgia. Not that it would be time to fire Smart, but it would be time to warm his seat a bit.
What is the average time it takes a head coach to win their first National Title?
The common response to anyone putting a limit on Smart’s time to win a National Title is the time it took Saban and Swinney. It took Saban nine seasons as a Power Five head coach to win his first title. It also took Swinney nine seasons as a Power Five head coach to win his first title. Ed Orgeron did it in his eighth season as a Power Five head coach. This is why it feels fair to say that Smart should have won one by the end of his eighth season.
As mentioned before, Smart has the talent to get the job done. In fact, since 2018, Georgia football’s roster has been rated in the three, talent-wise. The only thing Smart has been missing is experience. Smart goes into his sixth season as head coach for Georgia in 2021. The experience excuse is losing its momentum. Even the Alabama excuse can’t hold water. Ed Orgeron showed that they could be taken down when he beat them on his way to his first National Title.
Again, this is not a “championship or bust” season for Smart and the Bulldogs. However, that season is quickly approaching and will be here before you know it.