Friday, March 25, 2016

The Smart Era and some paradigm shifts, part two

I know you haven't seen much of me around here lately. But remember when I asked back in January about the differences we should/could/would expect now that the Richt Era moved south for the Winter? Well, since many national expert shock jocks and writers have recently weighed in and singled UGA and Coach Smart out, maybe it's a good time to add to the list.

Transfers. In the recent past, most of the players that have left the program (of their own doing, not dismissed) were due to playing time and depth chart issues. Sure, there may have been some behavior related issues mixed in and a guy was encouraged to look elsewhere. But overall, there were more cases like Logan Gray, Faton Bauta and Makiri Pugh than otherwise; situations where a player just wasn't seeing the playing time and wanted another opportunity before his eligibility was up.

And before we go too far, I want to say that I agree with the angst over Smart's recent decision in restricting AJ Turman's transfer choices. It has the feel of one spouse exerting control over the other after the divorce is settled.

But, I also agree with Coach Smart exerting said control. It's nonsensical for the media to get in a tither over this and direct their venom at UGA/Smart when programs exercise the same practice every single year. I guess it's just too easy for them to pat Alabama on the back in Januaryfor another Championship after turning a blind eye when Parker McLeod transferred to Western Kentucky.

Is this a complete 180 degree turn for UGA? Yes, absolutely. Maybe that explains some of the media derision. After all, take this quote from Coach Richt after Pugh decided to transfer:
“We are appreciative of Makiri’s contributions during his two years at Georgia,” said Richt. “We understand and support his decision to transfer and wish him great success the remainder of his career.”
To go from that to making a statement to current players that their old coach in Miami is off limits is quite the shift. Still, we had to know this was coming. It's what happens when you make the decision that ten wins ain't enough.

GDay. The PR campaign for #93KDay coupled with a rare spring game that doesn't conflict with Masters Saturday should produce quite a bump in attendance. Of course, the wild card will be the weather. Hopefully it gives us a nice spring day in Athens to reacquaint ourselves with the Gameday experience. Regardless, the build up has been fun to watch, mostly because it's a new regime and there is much curiosity around the program. New faces and new blood add up to excitement!

And I hope Smart continues to push the envelope with the spring game. The more emphasis there is on not competing with Masters weekend and making it as big a crowd as possible will only help provide the players with a competitive mindset.

Media & Public Access. We talked last time about the media being given less access to players and assistant coaches. So far that has played out as expected. What we didn't see coming (at least I didn't) was the legislative support card being played so that the program can, for lack of a better word, "hide" behind Open Records Law when it comes to behind the scenes access to information about the program, such as NCAA compliance issues and coaching contract ins and outs.

Let's be perfectly honest, less access to this level (and to be clear, if Gov. Deal signs the bill it would put Georgia well past other southeastern states) affects the media directly in that it's their job to give the public information. It affects the rest of us indirectly because of that. Right now there are not many fans upset about this development, despite all the print and digital columns asking us to do just that.

Where do I stand? Like I've said before, it's a new dawn. What Kirby wants, let's give it to him. We're not a program satisfied with old school bowl games. We have to win at (almost) all costs. If that means less access for media, the public, and lowly bloggers like be it.

"We're going to the Ramsey!!". Just for fun, we know pool days and high dives are no longer. RIP Natatorium Go-Pros! What do you think takes its place? Will Smart give the 1's a steak dinner while the 2's get a spoon and a can of Spam?