Georgia Football: Trusting the Process from Tuscaloosa to Athens

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

When the Georgia Football team brought in Kirby Smart three years ago it was clear that he had a plan and he’s been executing it ever since.

On December 7th, 2015 when Kirby Smart was announced as the head football coach at the University of Georgia, he used two words a dizzying amount of times: recruiting and process. Over the nearly three years that have followed, he’s demonstrated that he understands both of those words very well. When it comes to recruiting, Smart has dramatically increased Georgia’s talent level, which wasn’t all that bad under his predecessor Mark Richt. Georgia routinely reeled in top 10 recruiting classes and remained a legitimate contender in the SEC’s eastern division. The problem was that Smart was coming from a place where the talent on campus far exceeded just about everybody else in college football. That place was Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where head coach Nick Saban had begun to drain the life out of the rest of college football with seven straight top-ranked recruiting classes from 2011-2017, according to the 247Sports composite team rankings.  

Upon Smart’s arrival, according to the same rankings system, he was able to secure the nation’s 6th best class in 2016, led by the now departed Jacob Eason, tight end Isaac Nauta, and wide receiver and return man Mecole Hardman Jr.  There were misses of course. There always are in recruiting. Derrick Brown opted to go to Auburn and Demetris Robertson unveiled a painting with a Golden Bear on it in May. There were misses on the field too, like a certain Hail Mary against a certain team in orange. There was the near disaster against Nichols. There was the unthinkable loss to Georgia Tech. All the while, Smart kept preaching “the process.”

Then came the 2017 recruiting cycle and the following season. Jake Fromm had gone from the leader of a recruiting class to one of the most important players on the team in the span of about seven months. Most Georgia fans began to concede the season in the opening minutes of the Appalachian State game when they saw Eason limp toward the locker room at Sanford Stadium. Fromm, however, conceded nothing. Instead, he bought into the process. The Dawgs went on to breeze through the rest of the SEC, save a hiccup at Auburn. They would get their revenge in the SEC Championship game and go on to win the Rose Bowl over Oklahoma before falling to Alabama in the National Championship game on a play that everyone has seen a thousand times by now,

Still, Smart and his staff continued to recruit relentlessly, bringing in the nation’s best recruiting class in 2018. Smart had defeated Saban in living rooms. He still seeks to do it on the field. Before he gets that chance, the Dawgs must beat upstart Kentucky on Saturday. Much has been made of Georgia’s inconsistent play in 2018, but perhaps that is part a part of the process that most Georgia fans don’t realize. On a team littered with talented freshmen and sophomores, Saturday afternoon will provide many young Bulldogs the opportunity to sweep the SEC East in back to back seasons. Let that sink in for a moment. That hasn’t been done since a guy named Tim Tebow and Florida did it in 2008-2009. In fact, that’s the last time any SEC team swept their division in consecutive seasons. That’s right, the feat has even eluded mighty Alabama.

Next. 5 takeaways from the win over Kentucky. dark

Can this team beat Alabama? Should freshman stud quarterback Justin Fields play more? Do the Dawgs have the depth along the defensive line to make a championship run? All of those questions can be debated. Here are a few things that cannot: Kirby Smart is 28-8 as a head coach. He is 16-6 against SEC opponents during the regular season, with four of those losses coming in his rookie season as a coach in 2016. His last loss to an Eastern Division opponent was on October 29th, 2016 when he lost to Florida 24-10. Georgia now owns the SEC East, thanks in large part to Kirby Smart’s process. Bulldog fans would be wise to trust it.