ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart was intentionally vague when it came to questions about coaching changes and potential player attrition at his Wednesday press conference.
Smart, finishing up his fourth season and headed to a second consecutive Sugar Bowl with the No. 5-ranked Bulldogs, said the fluid nature of his program is routine this time of year.
“This is part of the profession,” Smart said. “When you win football games, when you win your division three years in a row, people get opportunities.”
New South Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, however, was not offered or talked to about coaching at Georgia, Smart said.
“I talk to Mike often and a lot because we’re really good friends, but as far as conversation about coming to coach at the University of Georgia, no,” Smart said. “He and I conversed about what he was going to do when he was let go but that was during the week of the LSU game.”
Smart replaced departed offensive line coach Sam Pittman with former Ole Miss head coach and co-offensive coordinator Matt Luke within 48 hours last week.
Smart said Luke was the first coach that came to mind.
“The minute we found out about Sam, (Luke) was the first guy who came to my mind and wanted to visit with,” Smart said. “I’ve had a lot of respect for the job that he did everywhere he’s been.
“He was at Duke, came up under Coach (David) Cutcliffe, played for him and been a good friend of mine for a long time.”
Smart said other Georgia assistant coaches had opportunities to leave for other jobs and elected to stay.
“We’ve had other coaches get opportunities that have elected to stay,” Smart said, “and that is a good thing.”
Smart did not rule out initiating other coaching changes, but he indicated none were imminent.
“As far as any other changes or anything like that,” Smart said, “that’s decided after the bowl game, after we look back at the whole year.”
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Georgia will be missing three starting offensive linemen at the Sugar Bowl, and there’s a possibility more players could be missing when the team arrives in New Orleans.
Offensive tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson declared for the NFL draft on Tuesday, and offensive guard Ben Cleveland reportedly is academically ineligible.
Smart said Thomas and Wilson leaving early and not playing in the bowl is more business as usual.
“One’s probably a first round pick (Thomas), and one a potential first round pick, it’s tough, right?” Smart said. “Those kids have an opportunity to go do something they wanted to do all their lives. We give them the information and we let them make the best decision for them. For us, it’s not like this is something new.
“We’ve known that this was the potential to happen for these two guys all year … Those guys have been out games, both of them in the last two years, so we’ve had to play without them.”
Georgia, which has held four closed bowl practices, will arrive in New Orleans on Dec. 27.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart