ATHENS — Kirby Smart was one of the SEC coaches to do the ESPN “Car Wash” on Monday, which offered up two interesting visuals: Smart alongside previous critic Mike Greenberg, and also alongside SEC division rival and close friend Will Muschamp.
You can read here an account of Smart’s rather tepid exchange with Greenberg. Otherwise, here are five other subjects that Georgia’s head coach weighed in on while appearing on “Mike and Mike” and “SportCenter”:
1. Disciplining players
This came up on “Mike and Mike” in light of the arrests at Alabama over the weekend, and the criticism of Nick Saban last week for not disciplining two other players who were arrested but not charged. Smart, who worked under Saban the previous nine years, also has some situations of his own (Julian Rochester, Juwuan Briscoe and Jonathan Ledbetter) he either has yet to decide or has yet to announce.
“I think as a coach you have to be willing to do what’s best for the player,” Smart said. “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.
“I don’t know all the details of those (at Alabama), I’ve certainly got my own deals I’ve got to deal with over at the University of Georgia, and I think it’s tough (when) you decide that, what is best for that player. But at the end of the day it’s what’s going to make him a better person 10 years from now, not whether or not he plays in a game.”
2. The requisite update on Nick Chubb
Last week at SEC media days Smart said Chubb would have “no limitations” at the outset of camp, but didn’t know how much Chubb would do when practices became more physical, or whether he’d participate in scrimmages.
During his “Mike and Mike” segment, however, Smart did indicate (if you want to parse it) that Chubb will participate in at least one scrimmage, and perhaps the first one. The team is allowed three preseason scrimmages.
“I think Nick Chubb’s going to be fine. But I won’t know that until the first scrimmage. Or the second scrimmage,” Smart said. “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.”
3. The requisite quarterback question
Smart’s approach – not surprisingly – the entire offseason has been to take some pressure off freshman Jacob Eason, and remind everyone that Greyson Lambert and Brice Ramsey are still on the roster. On “Mike and Mike,” when Eason and all his talent was mentioned, Smart jumped in to speak about the other two scholarship quartberbacks.
“I’ve got two young men on that team who are great leaders,” Smart said. “One (Lambert) won 10 games last year, like (SEC Network analyst) Greg McElroy said, and did a great job of managing that offense. And he’s done a good job of that right up until now. … Both of those guys (Lambert and Brice Ramsey) have got a great competitive chance to come in and help our team. Yeah, I don’t disagree, Jacob’s very talented. But Jacob’s got to earn the trust of that team.”
4. Expectations (for you)
Smart and Muschamp appeared together on SportCenter, and it was pointed out to the fellow SEC East coaches that they were each replacing “established” coaches, Mark Richt and Steve Spurrier. What challenge does that present?
“First off, guys that do a great job in our profession get jobs, and I think Mark 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.”
(Muschamp’s response: “Be yourself, and have your staff act as yourselves and embrace each other. And that’s what we’ve tried to do on our football team, I think.”
5. Expectations (for the team)
Smart was also asked what the expectations should be for this year’s team. Shockingly, or not, he didn’t set a specific win total. He went for the general approach.
“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.”