ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart said Monday there was “not really” any particular reason he didn’t allow quarterback Jake Fromm to speak to the media since last spring.
It would seem there’s “not really” any reason for him not to just go ahead and name Fromm the starter, either.
Fromm led the Bulldogs to the SEC Championship and a runner-up finish in the national title game last season, and Smart said Fromm is working with the first-team.
But Smart won’t say Fromm is starting at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday against FCS Austin Peay at Sanford Stadium.
It’s a matter of principle, Smart seemed to suggest.
The Bulldogs didn’t release a depth chart on Monday, as is customary at most FBS schools. Austin Peay, an FCS school, did release a depth chart.
“It’s just kind of the mantra we go by here,” Smart said, “that every practice is really competitive here, and the job opportunity is competitive.”
That begs more questions:
• Would releasing a depth chart prevent Smart making a change in the Georgia football lineup if a player didn’t practice well or was injured?
• Would naming Fromm the starter undermine other players working hard and competing for positions at Georgia?
• Has not being named starter damaged Fromm in preseason awards or all-conference team balloting?
It was to the point on Monday that Smart was asked if there was any reason lurking why he didn’t name the sophomore the starter or allow him to speak with media.
At Nebraska, former Cornhuskers quarterback Scott Frost allowed freshman Adrian Martinez to address a media corps on Monday representing a fanbase just as big, dedicated and rabid as any in the SEC.
Frost played at Nebraska (1995-1997), the same era that Smart was playing at Georgia (1995-1998), but their philosophies obviously differ.
Smart did make it clear on Monday he didn’t withhold Fromm from SEC Media Days or other interviews in fall camp because he was concerned with Fromm’s ability to handle himself in front of a room.
“The things we do in this meeting room with the team, and from a team standpoint, Jake stood in front of the team and talked,” Smart said. “Jake does a great job if we ever ask him to break down the team afterwards, standing up in front of the room and talking to them, he commands a lot of respect, he’s one of our best leaders.”
It’s possible Smart is being sensitive to freshman quarterback Justin Fields, who hasn’t talked to the media because of the head coach’s policy that freshman don’t get to talk to the media.
“I didn’t want [Fromm] to have to deal with questions regarding the other quarterback, just like I didn’t want Justin to have to deal with them asking about Jake,” Smart said.
“Both of those kids have visited frequently with us, as coaches, and we’ve let both of them know where they are, and communicated really well with them, and Jake has handled that well, and I know he’ll handle today well because I know Jake Fromm well.”
Smart clearly believes in Fromm, and he’s aware the sophomore won’t be affected by the strategy of not naming him a starter or speak to the media before Monday.
“Jake’s been going with the ones the whole time,” Smart said. “I think Jake would tell you the same thing, and Justin would tell you the same thing, they both want to do what’s best for the team, they both want to give us a chance to win football games.”
It’s not clear how officially naming Fromm the starting quarterback on Tuesday would detract from that, but Smart is a wise enough coach to have his reasons.
And it’s probably not just because that’s the way Alabama does it.
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart