UGA Football

Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart Press Conference Transcript

Kirby Smart
(Photo via UGA Athletics)

Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart met with the media on Wednesday at a press conference inside the Butts-Mehre Building. Below are his comments:

Opening statement…

“It’s great to be home. It’s great to have one job. I’m ready for questions, y’all shoot them away.”

On finalizing the defensive staff…

“It’ll be a work in progress at some spots. Glenn Schumann is going to work primarily with the inside backers. Kevin Sherrer outside backers. There’ll be times when they meet together. There’ll also be times where I’m very involved defensively. That’s the position that I’ve enjoyed coaching most of my Alabama career, was the linebackers. I’ll be working with those guys, with the inside guys, with Coach Schumann and Kevin also. Coach (Mel) Tucker will work with the (defensive backs) and be the defensive coordinator also, obviously.”

On focusing on his job here and balancing two jobs at once…

“I cannot explain how well I slept last night. Number one, we won the national championship at the University of Alabama. To be able to finish that the right way was a relief. Obviously we did not perform the way I wanted to perform, but we won the game. To know that those players achieved what they wanted to achieve, and then to get into this room yesterday and meet with this team, the University of Georgia team, my team -everybody told me when you get to do that finally, and it’s the only thing you have to worry about, it would be a great relief. A burden off your shoulders. That’s what it’s been for me. I feel much more relaxed. I got to meet with those guys and have a conversation with them. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It was the first time I’ve gotten to do that without something else lingering.”

On his schedule in the near future…

“No down time now. Now’s the hottest time there is for recruiting. We’re getting ready to get back on the road. We’re going to attack the road. We’re going to try to go get the best players we can. We’re going to build this thing through recruiting, which you have to do. No down time now. It may feel like a down time to me, from what I’ve got. Every hour I’ve got, every waking moment we’ll be on the phone with a prospect, with support staff, with some kind of role player, to make this place as good as we can.”

On the strengths and weaknesses of Georgia’s roster…

“I know from playing them offensively more than anything. We had to play them (at Alabama) so I got to observe it. To pinpoint one area, I think as a whole we always have to build from the lines. It’s hard to play good SEC football without great offensive and defensive linemen. I think there’s a lot of skill players within a five-hour radius of here. But I think you have to have great O-lines and D-lines, and that’s where we want to start the building blocks to build a great program. To say I know exactly what’s here, I’d be lying if I told you I knew exactly what’s here. Especially maybe defensively, I don’t get to see those guys as often. A lot of them I got to recruit, so I know a little bit about it from that, but not where I need to. I do know that we have to go out and get great players, and there’s a lot of great players in this area.”

On his recruiting pitch after winning another national championship…

“They know coming in that there’s a certain standard of excellence that I’m used to that they’re going to be held to. There’s also a certain standard of expectations that they’re going to be held to at the University of Georgia. If they understand that and they know what the expectation is, to be great, to win championships, to do things the right way, to go to the SEC Championship, to win the SEC East, when you build all those things with building blocks, you focus on what it takes to get you there, not the actual result — I think they’ve seen that product. They’ve seen me be part of that product for nine years. I really want them to understand that those are the goals and that’s what we want to do. I think there’s proof in the pudding. We’ve got to use that in recruiting, and we will.”

On any surprises with juggling coaching at Georgia and Alabama…

“There were time constraints, obviously. I knew what a bowl schedule, what a national championship schedule, what a playoff schedule was like at Alabama. I’ve been through all of those. I knew it was going to be grueling from that aspect. It’s not like there’s a lot of free time. The biggest challenge, again, I would say was finding time to hire the staff, finding time to talk to people to hire the staff. I’m used to a process for hiring staff where you have a group of people sitting in a room making a decision. I was forced to make a lot of these decisions with two or three people as opposed to 10 people. That was the biggest difference and the most trying thing. But I got what I wanted in all of those scenarios. I think we’ve put a great staff together, certainly one that’s very cohesive. I’m looking forward to working with them.”

On any parting advice from Nick Saban…

“Not so much advice. I think the advice that he’s given me is nine years of experience. The other night he was very appreciative and supportive. He told me that any way that he can help me, he wants to keep that relationship open. He’s always been that way. He is a developer of young men, developer of coaches, promoter of the game. As many times as I’ve been with him, he wants to promote the game of football, the same as I do. It’s my lifeline. It’s what my father did. I want football to be better. He’s always been about the guys who worked for him being the best they can. He’s always been in support of that. We left in a moment after the game. He was very appreciative of me staying and helping. Obviously we didn’t play real good, he wasn’t fired up about that. But we won the game.”

On the special teams unit and the offensive staff…

“I’ve got a lot of respect for the job Shane (Beamer) has done. I’ve known Shane personally a long time. I think he’s a very good recruiter. He’s been in the Southeastern Conference which I think is critical to be able to coach in this conference. I think he’ll do a good job with special teams. I’ll be very involved with that, and so will the other staff members. We’ve got other guys on our staff who’ve worked with those units as well. James Coley, he and I have worked together. When I was at LSU, my first full-time coaching job, he was a GA. He did an amazing job as a grad assistant. I don’t know how many years ago that was — 10, 11, 12 years ago, he did a great job. He’s gone and been really successful. He’s been with some great programs. He’s been with Jimbo (Fisher), he’s done a good job out on his own. I’ve got a lot of respect for the job James does and the person that he is as a recruiter. He’s also been very involved in special teams and coached those, and he’ll help on those units as well. Dell McGee, who I had the great fortune of recruiting his high school. Every time I’ve gone to Dell’s high school, I’ve always thought about the respect I had for him as a person first and foremost.I can’t tell you how many times Coach Saban and I went through the whole Gabe Wright and Isaiah Crowell process where I thought ‘Man, this guy is a really reputable person. He’s going to be a great college coach one day.’ He took the steps to do that. He went and worked at Auburn. He went and got his job at Georgia Southern. He did a great job recruiting for two years. I don’t think there’s a person more qualified for this position, as far as in the state. Well respected as a person, as a coach, has proven himself, and he’s done nothing since he’s been here to disappoint me at all. I’m looking forward to working with Dell. As far as those kids, they really like him. I think it’s a great deal for us.”

On getting multi-year deals for the assistants…

“I think there’s a misnomer out there among the media and among some other people. I think when you talk to agents and you talk to different people – are multi-year deals great? Sometimes they are. You’ve got to read all the stuff in the contract. What’s the buyout? What are the clauses that come with that? Me personally, or when you talk to a lot of NFL coaches, a lot of them don’t want multi-year deals because it locks them in a lot of times. It’s a two-way street. Each guy was dealt with on an individual basis. Some of those decisions they made, some of them I made, some of them were mutual agreements. I didn’t always like a multiyear deal, personally, as an assistant. If I do my job, I recruit good players, and we win football games, I’m going to have opportunities. Opportunities create leverage, create movement, create a situation where you can go advance. Sometimes that advancement can be hindered by multiyear deals, depending on the wording. I was happy that we were able to create a great staff, but each one was dealt with on an individual basis. I think each one of them got what they wanted.”

On what he expects as Georgia’s offensive approach…

“We’ve got to win football games. Ultimately we’ve got to do what’s best for our offensive system and what we have. What we have here right now, a situation with our quarterback environment where we’ve got to compete to find the best guy for the job. Of the three guys, four guys we’ve got here, we’ll be able to compete and find that out. If a dual guy comes along that we’re going to recruit, I’ve played against Jim Chaney. I’ve coached against him. You go back to his history at Tennessee, he had some quarterback runs. He had some things where he had to use that. If that’s your best way to run the ball is with your quarterback, then you’ve got to use that. If your best way to run the ball is to hand it Derrick Henry or to Nick Chubb, then you do that. You do whatever you have to do to win the game. If that becomes a dual-threat quarterback, then we cross that bridge when we come to it. I do think that creates challenges for the defense. If you find the right guy, which I agree with you there have been a lot of good ones to come out of this state, then you use that. You also recruit to the style of quarterback you have, and that allows you to get other positions, whether it be running back, receiver. You also recruit to a NFL criteria of can this kid advance and go on to play in the NFL? More and more dual threat guys are doing that in the NFL. That’s opened the door to it. Would we be open to it? Absolutely. Can Jacob (Eason) do that? I don’t know that right now.”

On the blueprint for recruiting…

“In the coaching profession, everybody plagiarizes and takes ideas from other people. I didn’t invent any blueprint. When it comes to recruiting, everybody recruits their own individual way. My recruiting style is different than Nick Saban’s recruiting style. I have to recruit the way I feel comfortable recruiting. Building relationships and bonds with those people, and building trust, is the way I like to do it. I like spending time with them, getting to know them, bringing them in, getting them on campus as many times as you can. That’s how you develop relationships. At the end of the day, that’s what a person decides where they’re going to school on is the trust with that coach. To say I have the blueprint or what that blueprint is, I can’t really put that into words. It’s kind of intangible at times.”

On meeting with the current players and building relationships…

“I told each one of them I plan on having individual meetings where I sit down and get to meet each one of those guys. It’ll probably be after signing day, to be honest. Up until then, they’ve already met the new strength coach. They’re going to meet with their position coaches. I’ve gotten to meet with some of them individually, as we’ve gone along the last two days. The weekends will be important. We’ll have a lot of players coming in. We’ll have players involved in that recruitment. I’ll get to be around the players at that time and spend time with them. Getting to know them will be a slow process, and getting to know them the right way. I do believe probably 30 or 40 percent of them I already have a good relationship with. I know most of these kids through recruiting. But some of them I haven’t spent time with. So I’ll spend time with them and get in a better situation moving forward.”

On changing the culture at Georgia…

“I think culture is very important any time you take on a new job. Not that anything was completely broken before, but this culture has to be created by Coach Smart and Coach Smart’s staff. We’re doing that right now. We’re doing that in the weight room on day one. We’re going to make sure every kid understands that. It’s a tough, competitive culture. But it’s going to be done through our eyes, our window. That’s what we want to establish in the offseason. That’s the point of the offseason — create toughness. To make kids be comfortable being uncomfortable. I think that’s important for them to have to do. I had to do it as a coach. I think when you step outside that box it makes you a better person. We’re going to challenge these kids to be comfortable being uncomfortable.”

On spring practice…

“We didn’t go in depth about spring practice, nothing like that. This was a general meeting. This was more of a get to know you meeting and spend time with them. I went over and ate with those guys in the environment they eat in each day, just being around them. It was not specific to spring practice. We won’t broach spring practice until a little bit further down the road.”

On evaluating Georgia’s players…

“We’ll watch tape in the coming weeks, especially after signing day, of these players. We’ll get to see them in their games, absolutely we’ll do that. A lot of this is a clean slate in the perspective that they’re starting in the weight room new, they’re starting academically new. They’ve got a fresh slate with all of us. But what they’ve laid out on tape is on tape. That’s your resume as a player, not your resume as a person. A lot of our coaches have already watched that. The ones who have been hired and been in house, they had bowl games to watch that, evaluate that. I haven’t had that luxury, to be honest. That’s something that I look forward to being able to do – to watch and observe.”

On what Georgia’s offense must improve on…

“I faced it and had success. We had our complications when we were in the SEC Championship Game. They moved the ball on us. We haven’t always had ultimate success. I do think that at this program, at this University, you will always be able to recruit talented running backs. You always want to be able to run the football, because you can’t win football games if you can’t run it. If you can only run it, you will lose football games, too. You’ve got to be able to have balance, which is why we hired the staff we hired. I think it creates a great balance, using a guy like Coley, who has been in a lot of different passing systems, has coached in the NFL, been around Jimbo, done some things. He and Chaney have similar lineage. They’ve both been around Scott Linehan, who’s a great offensive mind. We’ve got to have balance. What’s the one thing we’re going to have to improve? We’ve got to throw the ball better than we have in the past here. I think we can do that with the people we have here. We’ve got to improve the offensive line, we’ve got to get bigger people, we’re got to get more depth. We’ve got to be able to survive a couple of injuries because they’re going to happen. It’s inevitable. It’s going to happen. You’ve got to be able to survive those. There’s a lot of areas to improve on. We’ve got to improve on defense, too. All that can be done through recruiting and in the weight room, and that’s what we’re focused on right now.”

On the strength and conditioning program…

“I envision it looking very detailed, very organized. We’re going to structure it in a way that I’m comfortable with. Scott (Sinclair) and I have sat down and talked about that. That was part of the interview process and that’s probably what intrigued me most about him. He’s very personal. He enjoys being around the players. He thinks if you get to know them that they will work hard for you. They’ll buy into that. I believe in that. We have a lot of similar beliefs. We also had a lot of similar people we worked with. The guys I worked with at Alabama, they worked prior too. Very reputable guy. Very good reputation. He did a very good job at Marshall. I felt very strongly that he was the right guy to hire. Then Ed (Ellis) coming with him, they made a great tandem. Those two have worked together before and done really good things. I like what they’ve produced. They’ve been able to develop players at places they’re at to play at the pro level. The guys at Central Florida, a lot of their former players called and reached out to me. I felt really good about those guys.”

On filling out the support staff…

“I think in today’s day and age in college football, that’s where the most growth has come. Every school is trying to take advantage of support staff every way they can. What role can they play? What role will the NCAA allow them to do? Try to maximize those benefits. We’re going to try to do that every way we can. The administration here has been very supportive of me and (filling) those roles. Getting people in those roles, trying to fill them. At whatever point we start to hire those guys, we’ll be able to release it. For me, I want to do it the right way. I don’t want to rush into hiring somebody in one of those roles and not feel comfortable with them. I do think there’ll be a little bit of expansion there, and the administration has been very supportive of that.”

On the indoor practice facility and logistics until it’s finished…

“I think you have to take a step back and take two steps forward. Obviously, there’s going to be some logistical issues of which I don’t know all of them yet. I don’t know exactly what all it is. I know it’s going to incur some problems with practice and things like that, but I’m 100-percent on board with that to get the indoor. You’re not going to hear me complain about having to travel to get that. I’m all on board with that. I’m really fired up about it. I’ve seen the plans for it. I think a lot of thought and the right mindset went into that, to build it the right way. Once you’ve got it, it’s yours. It’s your baby. You want it to be done the right way. Logistically, it’ll create some problems for the first season. I do think we can overcome that, and they’re willing to do it. As we incur some problems you’ll know about it.”

On operational changes coming for the program…

“Alabama has the largest staff in any capacity that I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if that’s a fair comparison sometimes when it comes to pure staffing. A lot of those issues have been addressed through the last couple weeks. I think they will be addressed in coming weeks with hiring people and developing a staff. To say that it’s going to be as large as theirs or comparable to theirs, I don’t know if that’s necessarily the truth. We want to do everything we can to win here. Everything I think we need (the administration) we have here too and they want to win. I think that’s an important part. I think you should win here. I think that part of doing that is hiring the best people you can hire in those roles. Do I think we need every one of those roles? No, I don’t. I was there for nine years. I don’t think you need every one of those roles. I certainly think we’ve got to develop that. They’re on board with that and we’ve started in that process. You’ll see that come to fruition in the coming months. To say that I’ll run out right now and hire somebody before I get out recruiting, I’m not comfortable with that either. I want to get this done right the first time, even if it takes a little longer to get done.”

On anticipating transfers…

“You take it as it goes but you accept that that’s probably going to happen. Everybody I’ve talked to, taking head jobs, they’ve dealt with that first transition, changing culture. There’s going to be kids who felt they were so loyal to that coach or that staff or some staff member that they feel they need to take a chance to look somewhere else. Our job is to convince them that we’re here for them too, to build that relationship, to make sure they know that they’re a part of this family. They chose to come to the University of Georgia for a reason. We want to make those reasons the same. Is it inevitable? I do think it’s inevitable. I do think that when you change the culture, sometimes people may not fit that culture, and they’ll choose to leave. There’s regrets about that. It affects your APR, it affects your graduation rate long term. At the end of the day, they’ve got to decide what’s best for them, and we can’t sacrifice our goals and culture for one player.”

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. lemondrop88

    Jan 13, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    Good luck with your new job Coach Smart at UGA and with the Dawgs and Dawg Nation, and hope 2016 will be a great season for you and ‘The Dawgs’ and we can get to and win over ‘The Gators’ and on to win the SEC East and hopefully win Conference Championship, playoffs and can even win the National Championship.. I like your plans,,,

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