Hayes: Kirby Smart knows what he's doing in hiring Mike Bobo as Georgia's OC
Before we hit full meltdown mode, let’s first consider what must be believed to get there.
Kirby Smart doesn’t know what he’s doing.
Kirby Smart values friendship over winning.
Now, reality: Smart just won the past 2 national titles as Georgia’s coach and is on the verge of becoming one of the sport’s all-time greats just 7 years into his head coaching career.
And I’m not breaking news here by declaring Smart values nothing over winning. Sometimes, to his own detriment, over things he shouldn’t.
Do you think a guy who works so relentlessly and tirelessly as Smart — who grinds so hard at his job in and out of season, that many in the coaching profession wonder how long he can keep it going, year after year — is going to flippantly give Mike Bobo the most important assistant coaching spot on staff because he and Bobo are best friends and former college roommates?
Have we learned nothing from watching this maniacal symphony of a recruiter/talent developer/program builder to believe such nonsense? It makes absolutely zero sense.
Also, just in case this means anything: 2 offensive coordinators in the history of Georgia football had teams that averaged more than 40 points a game. Todd Monken, who just left to become the Baltimore Ravens OC, and a guy named … wait for it, Bobo.
In fact, since we’re going there: Bobo’s 2014 offense (41.3 ppg.) is statistically better than Monken’s 2022 offense (41.1).
But because social media has birthed the unquenchable need for nattering nabobs of negativism (another story for another time), Bobo is seen as the guy who flamed out in his only head coaching job (Colorado State), and who failed in his past 2 OC jobs (South Carolina and Auburn) before Smart threw him a lifeboat.
Not the guy who, as quarterbacks coach, developed David Greene into an All-SEC quarterback who set nearly every Georgia passing record. Or the guy who coached DJ Shockley to an SEC Championship in 2005, or the guy who coached Matthew Stafford, who broke many of the same records Greene broke and became the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.
That not enough? How about the guy who then coached Aaron Murray, who broke all of those passing records — and but for an untimely catch by Chris Conley in the 2012 SEC Championship Game, could’ve been part of a national championship rout of Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl.
Suddenly this is the guy who will be the beginning of the end of the Georgia dynasty. In the history of dumb, that statement is in rarified air.
Bobo struggled at Colorado State because he didn’t have players (that’s on him), and he was out of his element recruiting to that area of the country (also on him, by choice).
He struggled as the OC at Auburn and South Carolina because they were unique, no-win situations. Will Muschamp was in a win-or-walk situation at South Carolina and didn’t have a quarterback, and Bryan Harsin was fired before he was hired at Auburn — and didn’t have a quarterback.
The key this time around: Bobo will be nearly bulletproof at Georgia. Smart has this program so fined-tuned and overflowing with elite players at every position, it’s almost impossible for Bobo to mess this up.
He walks into a quarterback room where his options begin with 4th-year junior and former blue-chip recruit Carson Beck, who was the No. 2 after fall camp in 2021 before JT Daniels got hurt and Smart and Monken decided playing Stetson Bennett was the safer route. The rest is Georgia lore, forever and ever, amen.
Beck is an uber-talented thrower, more in line with Stafford and Murray. He’ll stand tall in the pocket and make throws from the far hash to the opposite numbers. You know, the NFL throws.
If for some reason Beck doesn’t work, the other options are former 5-star recruit Brock Vandagriff and 4-star recruit Gunner Stockton. Whoever is playing quarterback, he’ll stroll to the line of scrimmage in Week 1 against an FCS punching bag with:
— 1 of the top 3 offensive lines in the nation.
— A deep and talented (and fast) wide receiving corps, that added 2 of the SEC’s best receivers (Dominic Lovett, Rara Thomas) through the portal.
— Brock Bowers, the best tight end — and some would say, best offensive threat — in college football.
— A trio of running backs (Daijun Edwards, Kendall Milton, Branson Robinson) whose production will likely mirror the 3 running backs from 2022 (2,190 yards rushing, 25 TDs; 62 catches, 669 yards receiving, 3 TDs).
It’s nearly impossible for Bobo — or any offensive coordinator — to walk into that situation and fail. And that’s ignoring the fact that Bobo has a fantastic track record at Georgia of developing quarterbacks and successful offenses.
Late last December, while Georgia was preparing for the Playoff semifinal against Ohio State, Monken was talking about Bobo — then an offensive analyst for Georgia — and his impact on the unit.
Bobo played for Georgia in the mid-1990s, and began his coaching career at Georgia in 1999. All but 7 of his coaching years have been with Georgia.
There he was this season, drawing up scout-team cards for game preparation, content and excited about any role he could provide his alma mater. That’s grunt work, the stuff of graduate assistants and those trying to get their nose under the exclusive tent of coaching college football.
“You don’t see that kind of stuff now,” Monken said.
Kirby Smart knows what he’s doing, everyone. Winning supersedes all.
That’s why he hired Bobo.