ATHENS — Social media allows for everyone to have an opinion, and while there is great value in that, there are also some downsides.
On The Beat
Chief among them, misinformation, and how it can be used to bolster agendas and make for freezing cold takes.
As foolish and ridiculous as some bad takes are, the scary thing is if repeated enough perception becomes reality.
But Georgia fans are pretty savvy and there are enough of them assertive enough to call out offenders who are painting incomplete or inaccurate pictures.
Here are a few of the worst recent cold takes on Georgia athletics:
1. Kirby Smart is on the hot seat
Who comes up with this kind of opinion, really? A 45-year-old coach who has produced four-straight Top 10 seasons and back-to-back New Year’s Six Bowl wins over Top 10 teams is on the Hot Seat?
Smart is 10-6 overall vs. Top 10 (three of those losses to Alabama), and he’s only the second SEC coach in history to win the East Division three consecutive years (Steve Spurrier is the other).
Georgia has produced the No. 1-ranked recruiting class twice in the past four years and is currently only par for the No. 1 class in 2022.
As for development, UGA will have more players drafted this year (at least 10) than ever before in history, and the Bulldogs could break that mark in the 2022 NFL Draft.
2. It’s now or never for Kirby Smart
Seriously, it’s almost as if fans or rival schools are just trying to speak this sort of narrative into existence. Amazingly, there are some who have been paid to embarrass their publication with this opinion.
The idea is that if Georgia can’t win a national title with a star quarterback like JT Daniels, that it won’t happen under Smart.
The logic is so flawed it’s hard to know where to begin, so instead let’s just refer back to the recruiting classes Smart is bringing in and point out that a new $80 million football building is in its early stages of opening and consider how that will provide even more of a lift to recruiting.
Oh, and about the NIL, for those savvy recruits wanting to make money off name-image-likeness? Georgia is well-positioned there, as well.
Atlanta is the seventh-largest media market in the nation behind New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas-Ft Worth and San Francisco-Oakland-SanJose.
It’s possible USC, UCLA or Stanford might get their acts together and capitalize on their major markets, but the Pac-12 seems impossibly far behind the SEC in facilities, revenue and interest in college football to post much of a threat anytime soon.
If someone still tries to argue Smart’s time is running out, point them in the direction of the YouTube video of the G-Day Game and tell them to look closely at the quarterbacks. The future looks good with Carson Beck and/or Brock Vandagriff.
3. Tom Crean can’t coach
To be clear, the verdict is out on whether Crean has a long-term future at Georgia.
But to suggest Crean can’t coach is naive and overlooks his results at Marquette (Final Four) and Indiana (Big Ten championships).
The Hoosiers have won two regular-season Big Ten titles in the past 19 years — Crean won both of them.
The challenge in Athens is much greater. Crean’s not just trying to change a program at Georgia — he’s trying to lift an entire men’s basketball culture.
Georgia has won just one regular-season SEC title (1990) and two SEC tournament championships (1983, 2008) in 90 years of SEC play. Of the 10 original SEC members, only Ole Miss has a worst conference mark.
The current challenges go beyond the lack of tradition, as the one-time transfer rule has flooded the NCAA transfer portal.
At the time of this writing, there have been 1,470 players in the portal. That’s an average of more than four per school based on the 347 teams that played Division I basketball last season. There have been 63 transfers from the 14 SEC schools alone.
UGA has been hit hard, but taking a closer look, the starting players who left might want to spend time in the practice gym before auditioning for new teams:
Tye Fagan 10-37, 27-percent from three, 55.6-percent from FT Line
Sahvir Wheeler 18-80, 22.5-percent from three, 73.8-percent from FT Line
Toumani Camara 15-57, 26.3-percent from tom three, 62.1-percent from FT Line
Anyone who has watched Georgia basketball has seen Crean’s offense, if nothing else, is noted for spacing and the ability to get open shots.
It’s up to Crean to land players that can change that trend, and fortunately for him, he has NBA all-stars like Dwyane Wade and Victor Oladipo, along with rising star Nic Claxton and NBA Rookie of the Year frontrunner Anthony “Antman” Edwards who have endorsed him.
As for those who yearn for the “glory years” of the former coach — a coach who failed to produce an NCAA tournament win or league title in nine years — Mark Fox might soon be available. Cal basketball went 8-19 last season and 3-17 in league play, last in the Pac-12.