Kirby Smart’s First Year at UGA

Every Georgia fan has thought it or at least heard it. “What if Kirby Smart turns into another Will Muschamp at Florida?” The scripts seem to follow each other. Both come from great head coaches. Both are defensive coordinators. Both are getting their first head coaching job at an SEC East. The similarities are uncanny. Tony Barnhart, SEC Network broadcaster, doesn’t see it that way.

“They’re both separate cases,” Barnhart stated.

“Kirby waited until he got an opportunity he wanted. He had an 11-year apprenticeship with Nick Saban, certainly the best coach of our generation, and he’s ready.

He also cited that Smart’s father also coached and that he will follow in the family business. Barnhart was quick to say that Smart, like all first year head coaches, was going to make mistakes, “but he’ll learn from them.”

As far as the comparison to Muschamp, Smart said that the two cases were totally different.

“They (Florida) were good on defense every year he was there, but they got into a hole offensively and could never get out. I think Will’s learned a lot from that. I’ve told my South Carolina friends that the short term for South Carolina will not look very good, but I know the people on that staff and there are a lot of good recruiters. They will be better down the road.

Some point to some of Muschamp’s shortcomings with Florida to changing offensive schemes and not having the best staff to surround himself with. Many people have not had the same criticism of Smart, however. While hiring Jim Chaney to be the offensive coordinator was not necessarily a “sexy” move, he has a lot of respect in the industry and should really help with UGA’s offense, particularly with using the tight end more. The hire that many like for Smart’s staff was defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, the former assistant head coach and defensive backs coach at Alabama.

Georgia has its shortcomings for the 2016 season, but the future with Smart and his staff looks as bright as ever.


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