Georgia football has been on top of the mountain for two years now. The program has supplanted Alabama as the benchmark program. This has many wondering what is the key to their success.
Kirby has one answer to the question of success and that is retention. In the Winter of 2022, the Georgia Football program had to replace A Defensive Coordinator in Dan Lanning, Receivers coach Cortez Hankton, Offensive line coach Matt Luke and defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae.
This would probably cripple other teams if they had to replace that many coaches. Not only did Georgia go on to win another championship, but in some areas they received upgrades on the coaching staff.
Going into the 23 season Mike Bobo, who was on staff in 2022 is replacing Todd Monken. Monken left for the NFL and many thought Kirby might go outside of the program to hire a new OC. But as quickly as Monken departure was announced, the announcement of Bobo taking over play-calling duties was made at the same time.
Outside of Monken, Georgia is bringing back every coach who was on staff in 2022. Not many national championship teams have ever been able to say that. Oftentimes when your team wins, coaches leave for higher positions.
Furthermore, at least 4 coaches are on their second stint with the Dawgs. Bobo, McLendon, Hartley and Stacy Searels are all back for their second year and second stint. Then Georgia has 5 former players as coaches on this staff.
There are a bunch of stats you can get into, but I think having former players from Georgia is probably the biggest difference between Georgia and everyone else. They care not only about the university, but they understand how important the Dawgs are to the state and the entire fan base.
Another part of retention that Kirby brought up was the 2021 class. 17 out of the 20 players who came to Georgia are still there. That’s an incredible achievement not only for the program but also for Kirby Smart.
Smart, however, does not pat himself on the back for retaining so many players from that recruiting class. He thanks COVID. Smart alluded to the fact that all the players that committed to Georgia did not take any official or unofficial visit to Athens. Also, the players had to send workout videos to the coaches for them to evaluate them. Smart and the staff used that as a litmus test if the players were fit for the program.
That recruiting class included some big names: Amarius Mims, Smael Mondon, Brock Bowers, Javon Bullard, and Kamari Lassiter: A lot of talent in that class and a lot of DGD in that class. They all wanted to come to Georgia and love the university.
Smart mentioned that all those players loved the university but more importantly, spoke about how they love football. The class before, the 2020 class also had similar stories. 2020 had hat recruiting class included some big names: Keele Ringo, Jalen Carter, Broderick Jones, Darnell Washington, Sedrick Van Pran, Tate Ratledge, Kendall Milton, Arian Smith, and Warren Brinson.
Smart talked about how much Van Pran loves the university and one of the reasons why he came back. Van Pran himself talked at length about how great Georgia is and why he loves everything about the school. All of the guys that have stuck around really do love the game of football and the university. That has been the difference between Georgia and everyone else the past few seasons.
Retention has been the biggest key the past two years at Georgia and it looks to be a big key in this upcoming season. It will not last forever, look at the turnover that happens at Alabama every year. But, let’s hope it stays that way for at least another year.