ATHENS — Georgia’s status as a “Tier One” coaching job in football, per ESPN, should come as no surprise with the success the Bulldogs have enjoyed under Kirby Smart.
On the field Georgia has made three straight SEC Championship Game appearances, a feat not accomplished in the East Division since Steve Spurrier patrolled the sidelines at Florida in the 1990s.
But beyond that, UGA has committed more than $170 million to football facilities — while maintaining more than $100 million in its reserve fund — since Smart was hired in 2016.
ESPN college analyst Adam Rittenberg penned that “ No national titles since 1980 is embarrassing, given Georgia’s location in one of the nation’s top recruiting states.”
That may be a bit of an overstatement considering the four-team College Football Playoffs didn’t begin until 2015. And, until the invent of the BCS in 1998, the so-called “national championship” was quite subjective and even at times political.
Georgia represented itself well in the BCS Era and featured at least three teams — 2002, 2007 and 2012 — that would have been in the discussion had there been a four-team CFP Playoff.
The four-team CFP is indeed a game changer, and one that has played into the hands of Nick Saban’s dynasty at Alabama.
In discussing and ranking great head coaches, few point out Saban won four national titles at Alabama during the eight years Kirby Smart was his defensive coordinator.
Even fewer will note Saban won just one at Alabama in the five seasons without Smart as his defensive coordinator.
But to the point of Rittenberg’s pay-site ESPN-Plus article, Georgia does indeed have all the makings of a Tier One job.
Michigan State head coach and former UGA defensive coordinator Mel Tucker explained he came to Georgia with Smart from Alabama because of the built-in advantages the Bulldogs have.
In short, Tucker said, UGA is the one dominant program in a talent rich state. Other programs that fit that profile include Ohio State and LSU, two of the other programs on the Tier One list.
Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas and USC were also on the list.
The Gators spot is questionable, based on the struggles the school has had in recruiting, and the loss of luster after the Urban Meyer Era.
Further, as programs like Central Florida and South Florida have risen, the state has become more stratified with FBS options.
Indeed, Florida Atlantic and Florida International have even managed to chip away in addition to the obvious Gator recruiting competitors at Florida State and Miami.
Penn State and Notre Dame also should have been on Rittenberg’s list as Tier One coaching jobs.
Pennsylvania is loaded with talent, and as a member of the Big Ten, the Nittany Lions have all sorts of exposure outside of their traditional Northeast market and into the Midwest.
Notre Dame, in addition to its great tradition, still has what is essentially its own network via NBC.
The Irish haven’t won a national championship since 1988. Is that “embarrassing” when one considers the program had its own special provisions written into the BCS bylaws?
So while it’s fair to say Georgia has had missed opportunities, falling short as recently as 2017 in a controversial College Football Playoff field and championship game, the word “embarrassing” does not fit the program’s identity.
The fact Georgia has the third longest home sellout streak in college football – behind Nebraska and Oklahoma — serves as further testament to that.
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