Georgia head coach Kirby Smart appeared on ESPN Monday as part of their “Carwash” series, which aired multiple SEC coaches across different ESPN programs and platforms throughout the day.
Smart appeared on ‘Mike and Mike’ and ‘SportsCenter’, among others, to discuss what fans should expect out of the Georgia football program going forward. The five main topics of discussion included player discipline, a Nick Chubb status report, the current quarterback battle, expectations for Coach Smart, and expectations about the team this upcoming season.
Let’s rewind back to March when Smart faced one of his earliest big decisions as UGA’s head coach, pertaining to the transfer of running back AJ Turman. Smart granted Turman release, but put a blockade on him transferring to any SEC schools plus the University Miami, where former UGA coach Mark Richt is now the coach. Co-host of Mike and Mike in the Morning, Mike Greenberg, publicly scolded Smart for his decision to restrict Turman’s transfer and went as far as to proclaim “shame on you” to the first year head coach.
“Shame on you Kirby Smart,” Greenberg said back in March. “You’re scared of some 19-year-old kid going someplace, who’s obviously barely playing for you and that’s why he wants to transfer in the first place or has whatever other reason to go someplace else. And you’re so terrified to allow him to go to someone you might play on your schedule? Shame on you.”
On Monday, Greenberg gave Smart the opportunity to respond to the criticism.
“I appreciate that, Mike, first of all,” Smart said. “And I think in the down time of college football, when there’s not a lot going on, it’s easy to reach and grab straws to yell and scream about something, and I certainly think that issue is a sensitive issue to a lot of people. And I certainly see both sides of the issue. And I’m also – the only thing I’d say is – I’m trying to protect the University of Georgia. And do what a lot of my competitors do as well. And that’s really where it’s at.”
In regards to the topic of disciplining players, Greenberg questioned coach Smart about Nick Saban’s decision not to suspend the two Alabama players who were arrested this offseason and about his own decisions with the punishments of Julian Rochester, Juwuan Briscoe, Jonathan Ledbetter, and Chad Clay.
“I think as a coach you have to be willing to do what’s best for the player,” Smart said in an interview on Mike and Mike. “And you say what’s best for the player, is it better to give him a game suspension, three-game suspension, no suspension. I think each case may be different in that. I think it’s what’s best for that kid. Are you going to teach that kid a lesson for 10 years down the road by suspending him a game.”
When asked about the timetable on Chubb’s return from his knee injury, Smart did not rule out an opening night start from the featured back. During his interview, Smart suggested that Chubb would be able to participate in at least one of the team’s three scrimmages this offseason. Smart made it clear that he believes Chubb will be good to go for the season but he will not have a good understanding on his progress until he competes in his first scrimmage.
“When we get to go live and tackle and hit and he gets over that mental aspect of taking that first hit. But I know this: There’s nobody in the country who could be back as fast as he is right now. And he’s sped up the progress by his effort and toughness,” Smart said.
One of the biggest questions for UGA this offseason revolves around who will be lining up under center in 2016. Jacob Eason is coming in as one of the most highly praised recruits in UGA history, while Greyson Lambert led the team to 10 wins last season. Smart made it known that the job won’t be given to Eason, like most expected, but instead, Smart insisted that Eason must earn the trust of the team before he wins the starting job.
Moving on from his interview with Mike and Mike, Coach Smart later appeared on SportsCenter and was asked what his expectations for himself were and what his expectations for the team are for this upcoming season.
In regards to his expectations for himself, Smart felt very confident in himself and his ability to run the program going forward.
“First off, guys that do a great job in our profession get jobs, and I think Mark (Richt) did a fabulous job and he’s at the University of Miami now,” Smart said. “But we’ve moved on from that. And we’re focused on where we are now and moving forward.”
And finally, when Smart was asked about the expectations fans should have on his team, he once again attacked the question with a simple approach rather than breaking down an expected win total.
“To play as hard as you possibly can every single game,” Smart said. “That’s what we talked about, I don’t want those kids carrying that burden (of expectations), I carry that burden. Certainly we want to win big early. We’re not sitting here playing the waiting game. Much like Will at South Carolina, in our league you better win, or you won’t be here long. So it’s important that I get them to focus on what they’ve got to do to win.”
Here is a link to the original story: http://www.ugafootballlive.com/highlights/georgia-coach-kirby-smart-said-espns-car-wash/