Hayes: Georgia's turnover is the biggest threat to a 3-peat
These are the decisions that make or break potential dynasties, personnel moves that have buckled even the seemingly bulletproof.
Miami, USC, Florida, Florida State and Clemson. All positioned to make dynastic runs since the millennia, all falling short because of misses on quarterback and/or coaching staff personnel moves.
Next up: Georgia, which — after back-to-back national championships — will begin the 2023 season with a new quarterback and potentially a new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach.
“You don’t inherit greatness,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said over and over during the 2022 season.
It’s not transferrable, it’s not a given.
That’s what makes this offseason so critical in terms of returning to the Playoff, much less finding a way to do the unthinkable: win 3 straight national titles.
Minnesota is the only team to win 3 straight national championships, long before the modern era (1934-36). A 3-peat from Georgia would go down as one of the greatest team records in any sport at any level.
That’s what makes this offseason so important — and what makes the first quarter of 2023 so critical to the evolution of this specific Georgia team.
High school recruiting rolled on (No. 2 class according to 247Sports), and for the first time in 3 seasons, Smart took a few healthy swings in the transfer portal and landed 3 potential starters (CB Smoke Bouie and WRs Dominic Lovett and Rara Thomas). All smooth, right?
They’re not clear yet.
Offensive coordinator Todd Monken has interviewed with multiple NFL teams, and if he were to accept a job in the NFL — where he spent 8 years of his career with 3 franchises — the impact would be the greatest obstacle faced by Smart in his 7 seasons at Georgia.
The Bulldogs would begin spring practice with a new offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and play-caller, and a quarterback room with a combined 0 starts and 61 career pass attempts.
Georgia would still have the most talented defense in college football, and would still be loaded everywhere on offense. But new quarterbacks are always the sticking point — especially when combined with new offensive coordinators and play-callers.
Miami won the national title in 2001, and lost the next in 2002 in overtime. Then QB Ken Dorsey left, and next in line were Brock Berlin, Derrick Crudup, Kyle Wright, Robert Marve, Jacory Harris … and you see where this is going, right?
USC won the AP national title in 2003, BCS title in 2004 and lost in the national championship game in 2005. OC Norm Chow left after 2004, and QB Matt Leinart left after 2005, and the next thing you know, Carroll had 3 coordinators in the next 4 years before he left for the NFL — without playing for another national championship.
Florida lost Tim Tebow and Dan Mullen, and Urban Meyer hired his offensive line coach, Steve Addazio, to coordinate his offense. At one point over Meyer’s final season, he was using 2 players at the most important position on the field who would end up playing tight end in the NFL.
I can go on with the other dynasty teams, but you get the point.
Smart is excited about 4th-year junior QB Carson Beck. He has waited and developed behind Bulldogs legend Stetson Bennett, and it would be a wild upset if he’s not the starting quarterback when Georgia opens the season against FCS Tennessee-Martin.
The question: Who is running the Georgia offense, and coaching the quarterbacks and calling the plays? Monken is interviewing because he wants back in the NFL.
But if the right job/fit doesn’t happen, he could come back and earn another $2 million to take a run at history with Georgia. If he leaves, what next?
Don’t be shocked if the simple answer is Mike Bobo, currently quality control for the offense. A former Georgia quarterback, and OC/QBs coach under Mark Richt — and Smart’s best friend and college roommate — Bobo would fill the spot with as little transition drama as possible.
His offenses at Georgia under Richt were always among the best in the SEC, and his last job running an offense was 2020 under former South Carolina coach — and current Georgia co-defensive coordinator — Will Muschamp.
That season was brutal, the final of 5 years for Muschamp at South Carolina. Bobo’s offense averaged 23.5 points per game, with a Colorado State transfer (Collin Hill) and a true freshman (Luke Doty) playing quarterback — and not much help around them.
What would Bobo do with a blue-chip quarterback (Beck), and 2 more blue-chip quarterbacks (Brock Vandagriff, Gunner Stockton) behind him? With the best offensive line in the SEC, a loaded and talented backfield, the best tight end in college football and a receiving corps that includes the leading receiver for Missouri and Mississippi State in 2022.
He — or whomever gets the job — truly would be inheriting greatness. It’s almost impossible to screw it up.
That’s what all of those other dynasties thought, too.