Kirby Smart has grown accustomed to high expectations. Working with Nick Saban in college at both LSU and Alabama, as well as in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins, Smart learned all about high expectations.
Smart had to live up to high expectations in 2008 when he assumed the Alabama defensive coordinator position, taking the reins of the Crimson Tide defense and following in the footsteps of Will Muschamp and Kevin Steele. The transition was seamless.
In eight years as Alabama’s defensive coordinator the Crimson Tide’s defense never finished below 12th in the country in total defense and in seven of those years had a top-five defense nationally.
Smart not only lived up to what Muschamp and Steele achieved under Saban, he surpassed them. Those high expectations didn’t affect Smart one bit.
Smart was named the head coach of his alma mater, the Georgia Bulldogs, in December of 2015.
Smart took over the Georgia job from Mark Richt who was one of the most accomplished head coaches in the country.
Mark Richt won 145 games at Georgia from 2001-2015, including a 83-37 conference record in that time and a 10-5 bowl record.
That’s right, Georgia went to a bowl game in every one of Mark Richt’s 15 years on the job.
Not exactly easy shoes for Kirby Smart to come in and fill.
Richt’s biggest issues in Athens were his inability to beat arch-rival Florida, (winning just five times in 15 tries) and his lack of conference titles (winning just two SEC championships in 15 seasons).
Winning in at Georgia wasn’t the issue for Richt. He averaged nearly 10 wins a year for 15 years.
When Smart took over the Georgia program from Richt, the expectation wasn’t just to win, Georgia had already been doing that; the expectation was to beat Florida and win the SEC.
In Smart’s first two years on the job at Georgia, the Bulldogs are 1-1 against the Gators, beating Florida in blowout fashion 42-7 in 2017, and have already won an SEC title and played for a national championship – something Richt was never able to do.
Smart not only met expectations in his first two years as Georgia’s head coach, most would say he has surpassed them.
Now, fast forward to 2018, and expectations may be as high for the Georgia football program as they have ever been.
Kirby Smart has been rewarded for his first two years on the job with a brand new 7-year, $49 million contract. With that new contract, come even higher expectations.
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