MACON – Kirby Smart was about an hour late to his scheduled appearance here on Monday night, where he was the featured speaker at the Macon Touchdown Club’s meeting. When it was his time to speak, Georgia’s new head coach offered up an explanation.
“We’re doing offseason workouts, and we’ve got some guys who didn’t want to work,” Smart said.
It was one of many nuggets Smart offered during an appearance at The Methodist Home for Children that lasted more than a half-hour: Twenty minutes speaking, then a question-and-answer period – that started with Smart saying three questions were off limits:
“No. 1 question: Who’s going to be the quarterback? Answer: I don’t know,” he said, to laughter.
The second question: When will Nick Chubb be 100 percent? Again, Smart said he didn’t know, but added: “He’s gonna be a phenomenal player in the NFL.”
The third question? Smart said he would tell the audience if they asked it. They didn’t.
But Smart did offer up a few team tidbits, such as the offensive line being impressive in team workouts: “I wish there were more of them. And I wish they were bigger. But those guys are working hard.”
Overall, Smart was in top form on Monday night, lively, telling stories and drawing plenty of laughter.
“You see that standing ovation? Next year if we don’t win you might not even want me back,” Smart said. “Coach (Jim) McElwain or coach (Butch) Jones will be up here.”
It’s been a busy time, even after signing day and completing his staff. Smart also mentioned that his father, Sonny, texted him Sunday night.
“Me and your mom would like to schedule an official visit,” Smart said. “I looked over at my wife: You think my Dad pissed at me? (She said), well when was the last time you talked to him? About three weeks ago. She was like, yeah, he probably is.”
Smart spoke to the seven high school players sitting in front of him – two of them who signed with Georgia earlier this month – telling them they had been or in some cases were about to become part of a recruiting process that “is blown way out of proportion.”
And he spent a lot of time harping on three words that he’s instilling at Georgia.
Smart recalled that about seven years ago he flew up to New England to spend two weeks around Bill Belichick and the Patriots. The first thing he saw, on a sign behind the secretary’s desk, were three words: “DO YOUR JOB.”
Smart wrote it down. Then he saw those three words again in a meeting room. And then, finally, in a bathroom.
Before he left, Smart asked a Patriots employee, Bill O’Brien, (now the head coach for the Houston Texans), what that was all about. O’Brien told him that Belichick had instituted it when he came and had stuck with it.
It was also the finishing message to Smart’s speech.
“Do … your … job,” he said, slowly but emphatically.
Two of Smart’s incoming players were there: Defensive linemen Michail Carter (Jackson High School) and David Marshall (Upton Lee High School), each of whom committed to Georgia on signing day. So were at least two other players Smart is targeting for next year: Linebacker Nate McBride (Vidalia High School) and defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon (Lee County).
Then there was quarterback Jake Fromm (Houston County High School), who drew some groans when it was pointed out he was “verbally committed to the University of Alabama.” Smart remained stone-faced. Fromm smiled.
A Georgia helmet signed by every living Georgia head coach – Smart, Mark Richt, Jim Donnan, Ray Goff and Vince Dooley – was auction off for $1,500. (The helmet was missing Bryan McClendon, who coached the TaxSlayer Bowl win, and UGA is counting McClendon as an official head coach.)
A Georgia helmet signed just by Smart was auctioned off for $1,100. The same person bought both helmets.
Mike Cavan, in his new role as the special assistant to Smart, gave the introductory speech on Monday. Cavan, a Thomaston native and former Georgia quarterback, mentiomed that Mary Beth Smart was one of the best 3-point shooters in Georgia women’s basketball team history.
“She told me that, anyway,” Cavan quipped, drawing a laugh from Kirby Smart.
Cavan, while introducing Smart, read off his coaching history.
“And of course we know where he’s been for the last nine years. We don’t like to talk about that anymore, it’s over with,” Cavan said.
Indeed it is, and when Smart left the podium on Monday night, the crowd stood and applauded again. A few minutes later Smart, not one to linger, was headed back to Athens to do his job.