Expanded playoffs are good for Kirby Smart… But how good? – BY DAN MATHEWS

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FILE – Georgia wide receiver George Pickens (1) celebrates with Georgia coach Kirby Smart after scoring a touchdown in the second half of a NCAA football game between Georgia and Missouri in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. Georgia won 27-0. (Joshua L. Jones/AP File Photo)

June 16, 2021
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – I’ve had a co-worker here at 680 The Fan who has brought up that extended College Football Playoff fields would have meant a different narrative for Kirby Smart. I’m not sure I completely agree with that. 

Yes, 12 teams would have seen the Dawgs in the playoff field for the last three seasons. But, I do not think that takes away from the issues that still face Kirby during his time at Georgia. 

Smart is entering his sixth season and has one SEC title under his belt. They are recruiting at a level we’ve never seen, as evident in 247Sports.com‘s Blue-Chip Ratio. Kirby is also 17-11 against ranked opponents during his first five seasons on the job. 

The issues still remain, that Kirby hasn’t figured out how to solve the puzzle of beating Nick Saban and Alabama. I’m not saying it would be a passing of the torch in the SEC. But, I do think it would be a huge sigh of relief from Georgia fans when they finally accomplish this feat. 

Another issue is still being mired in the more than 40 year drought of not winning a national title. The overall belief in Kirby is still high. Trust me, you all let me know in my one Kirby piece I wrote. 

There is value in being one of the 12 teams playing for the national title at the end of the season. We can’t go back in time to figure out if they had a national title run in them for the 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons. 

The issue that Kirby could face is recalibrated expectations from the fanbase and experts. Soon enough, just getting into the playoff is not good enough. 

Let’s take Oklahoma as an example. The Sooners have shown no issue of getting into the current four-team field over the last few years. Their problem has been not getting out of the semifinal round. I get it, they’re in the field every year. But, don’t you think OU fans are already starting to want more from Lincoln Riley? 

Every major college football program has a reputation. Clemson is another example of one who kept progressing as a program and eventually became what they are. Don’t we remember “Clemsoning?” That was a thing, until it wasn’t. 

Kirby has gotten better in games versus ranked opponents over the last two seasons. In fact, Georgia is 8-3 in said contests. He gets the chance to improve that record on September 4 against Clemson in Charlotte. 

The 12-team playoff field should have Georgia expecting to be part of those teams, if they continue to recruit at the rate they are. The law of averages tell you that soon enough you’ll have the right group to make something special happen. 

I just know that if Kirby does make the CFP and not win a national title? I think that will become a problem for him. 

Mark Richt was not fired because he didn’t win. They had the “mutual parting of ways.” because he didn’t win enough SEC titles, beat Florida enough or win a national title. 

The expectations only increase at places like Georgia. They rarely if ever decrease. 

Dan Mathews
Chuck Oliver Show – Anchor/Fill-In Host
WCNN-AM 680 The Fan, also on FM at 93.7

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